In general, dimes refer to ten-cent pieces in the system of US coinage.
Dimes may not be worth very much money based solely on their face value, but they can sometimes be worth a whole lot more when they are sold for their silver content at coin shows, auctions, and also by individual coin collectors.
Current Roosevelt Dime Usage
The Roosevelt dime is the dime that is currently being used in the United States. While it might be hard to believe, the Roosevelt dime has actually been struck by the United States Mint continuously since way back in 1946
The current coin still displays the image of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) on the obverse, which was the design that was authorized soon after his death in 1945.
Putting the Coin in Context
President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, after guiding the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.
Roosevelt had suffered from polio since 1921 and had helped found and strongly supported the nonprofit March of Dimes organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, so the ten-cent piece was a good way to honor a president who was generally quite popular among the public for his strong war leadership.
The Roosevelt dime was first struck on January 19, 1946, at the Philadelphia Mint. It was released into circulation on January 30, which would have been President Roosevelt’s 64th birthday. Although the release date had originally been February 5, it was adjusted to coincide with the anniversary.
The new Roosevelt dime was ideally conceived to replace the Mercury dime (which is sometimes also known as the Winged Liberty dime). It is worth noting that the new 1946 dimes were the first coins in history that ever featured President Roosevelt’s image on the obverse.
The Rest of the Coin’s Design
The initial design of the rest of the coin was supposed to be the responsibility of Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock, although a great deal of the design work was actually done by Gilroy Roberts, who was Sinnock’s assistant.
All of the initial models showed a bust of Roosevelt on the obverse side and, on the reverse side, a hand grabbing a torch, and also clutching a few sprigs of olive branches and oak branches. Several other sketches were prepared for the reverse, including a design that flanked the torch with several scrolls with varying types of inscriptions.
The final design was approved with Roosevelt on the obverse, with the inscriptions “Liberty” and “In God We Trust”.
Sinnock’s initials, JS, can also be seen near the bust, to the left of the date. The reverse shows a torch in the center, representing liberty, flanked by an olive sprig representing peace, and a sprig of oak symbolizing strength and independence.
The inscription “E Pluribus Unum” stretches across the coin. The name of the country and the value of the coin surround the reverse design, which symbolizes the end of World War II. The design of the coin has not changed much over the course of seventy years of production.
At the time the dimes were released, there were poor relations with the USSR, and Sinnock’s initials, JS, were suspected by some of being placed there by a communist to refer to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
However, the Mint sent out press releases refuting this myth. Despite this, there were still plenty of rumors that there had been a secret deal at the Yalta Conference to honor Stalin on a U.S. coin.
Which Dimes Are Made out of Silver?
Most of the dimes produced after 1964 are worth only their face value, but dimes have traditionally always been made mainly from silver, although some were made out of copper during times of silver shortages.
The Coinage Act of 1965 was passed to have all silver removed and replaced with a combination of nickel and copper. Mercury dimes (minted 1916–1945) are potentially valuable coins. Originally known as the Winged Liberty Head Dime, the design features Lady Liberty in profile, with a winged Phrygian cap.
Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, this image was sometimes confused with the Roman god Mercury, which is why this coin was known as the Mercury Dime. Also, Roosevelt dimes produced in the United States before 1965 are made of 90% silver.
Although these coins are sometimes called “junk silver” in the industry, they can be very valuable if they are in good condition. This is true for dimes as well as for silver dollars and half dollars.
Silver Coin Values
The most valuable dimes are the ones that are still in mint condition. This does not mean that the coin has to look the same as when it was originally minted. There are plenty of expected coloration changes that can be seen on old coins.
The dimes that can be sold for the highest values have to be in excellent condition, but clean coins may sometimes be less valuable. In the United States, there are two main ways to certify coins. These are the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).
Both of these organizations use the Sheldon Scale which has a numerical rating from 1 to 70. Coins rated 60 or higher are known as coins in a “mint state” and they are considered the most valuable ones.
If you are trying to figure out what your proof Roosevelt dime might be worth, you can calculate the melt value of your coin by multiplying its actual silver weight, 0.07234 troy oz, by the current spot price of silver.
The price of silver bullion is very volatile, so be sure to check it often and regularly. Assessing the grading condition is an important part of determining the difference between collector quality and bullion quality silver dimes.
Two helpful ways to determine the worth of your coin are by using a single light source and a magnifying glass to help you identify the most valuable features of the coin. Silver dimes can be valuable, but they can be hard to find.
Be sure to check the date on the front (obverse) of the coin. Some older Roosevelt dimes (like the 1943 Mercury Dime) will be 90% silver. Judging whether or not a modern proof dime is made of silver can be difficult.
Consult a numismatist or bullion dealer to test the coin for silver, because there is no other way to be sure without causing damage to the coin. All Roosevelt dimes struck before 1965 are composed out of 90% silver.
Like other coins, these dimes can be worth a premium price for their precious metal content. Unfortunately, most of the silver Roosevelt dimes that are from the 1946–1964 period are actually more common than you might expect and they are usually worth only their precious metal value.
For example, well-circulated Roosevelt dimes produced before 1965 are usually worth between $1.50 and $2. Lightly worn examples of rare coins can be worth a lot more at times. These types of coins might include specimens from 1949, 1949-D, and 1949-S, which can each be worth around $5.
San Francisco Mint Silver Roosevelt Dime
The San Francisco mint struck silver Roosevelt dimes from 1946 to 1955 when the mint closed their coinage operations.
There were over 288 million dimes, which is the lowest total of the three mints striking dimes of the silver variety. A small “S” mintmark can be seen on the reverse at the base of the torch of these coins.
Denver Mint Silver Roosevelt Dime
The Denver mint produced the highest number of silver Roosevelt dimes. They made over 4.7 billion coins, which by far outnumbered both the San Francisco and Philadelphia branches.
The coins are still available in large quantities both in circulated and mint state condition. Denver’s mintmark, a small “D”, can be found on the reverse at the base of the torch.
Philadelphia Mint Silver Roosevelt Dime
Philadelphia, the main mint, also struck silver dimes in each year from 1946 to 1964 and they ultimately produced over 2.6 billion pieces. Philadelphia is also known for the lowest number minted for any single year and mint variety.
There was a 12,828,381 mintage in 1955, which is the lowest of the silver Roosevelt dime variety. No mintmark was used during the silver series of coins minted by Philadelphia.
Other Valuable Dimes
The 1945 S Micro S Full Band Mercury Dime is the only coin with a Micro S mintmark on the reverse side of the coin. Only about 1,200 have been graded as mint condition by the NGC, even though there is no shortage of 1945 S dimes.
Dimes from this year struck in San Francisco were not of great quality so those with full bands are rare. Winged Liberty Head dimes, also known as Mercury dimes, are rare. There are some rare business strikes, such as the 1916-D, 1921, and 1921-D.
There are also some other varieties that are harder to find, like the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D overdates. All of these coins can be worth large sums of money.
Dimes With Doubled Dies
Doubled die Roosevelt dimes are scarce collectibles that can be worth $50 or more. The more dramatic the doubled die, the more valuable the coin. This is especially true if the doubling can be clearly seen with the naked eye.
Doubled dies that can be seen only under high magnification are usually not very valuable at all. A good example of this type of coin is the 2004-D Roosevelt dime which is sometimes referred to as an “Extra Ear”.
This coin has been very controversial, with some numismatists claiming that the doubling is the result of a die clash while others claim it is a case of hub doubling (a doubled die).
Finding Silver Dimes
Determining if your dime is silver can be quite easy. First, take a look at the mintage year. Mercury and Roosevelt dimes produced in 1964 or before have 90% silver content. While the year of mintage is the easiest clue, these coins also have a white and lustrous appearance.
The edge of the coin appears silver all the way through, with no line of other metal at its core. Like other valuable coins, there are lots of very efficient ways to find silver dimes. You can check bankrolls, bags, and boxes that you can buy from banks for face value.
Searching through large quantities of dimes at once can be profitable and highly rewarding.
If you try to remember some of the important aspects of all of these junk silver coins that we have described above, and if you can place them neatly within your coin collection, you just might discover that some of the coins may one day be worth a large amount of money at a coin auction or show.
Due to the large numbers of these types of coins, few regular-issue Roosevelt dimes can fetch a premium price, so the series has received relatively little attention from coin collectors. All silver coins remain legal tender and can be removed from circulation and collected in various ways.
Most collections of the silver era Roosevelt dime are mint state examples. These are boldly struck coins that show no wear to their surface and bear very few marks. An obvious thing to look for: if your dime displays an image of Lady Liberty, there is little doubt that it is made of silver.
This includes both Seated Liberty (minted 1837–1891) and Barber dimes (minted 1892–1916). Keep all of these types of coins safe if you come across them in your coin collection. Other prominent silver dimes were struck at Philadelphia in 1982, erroneously minted and released without the mint mark “P”.
These types of coins can sell for up to $75. As no official mint sets were issued in 1982 or 1983, even ordinary dimes of those years from Philadelphia or Denver in pristine condition are valuable (worn ones, not so much).
Far more expensive are the dimes erroneously issued in proof condition in 1970, 1975 and 1983 that lack the "S" mint mark. One of only two known from 1975 sold at auction in 2011 for nearly $350,000!
Also, keep in mind that in 1996, the United States Mint honored the 50th anniversary of the Roosevelt dime. It introduced a special dime bearing the "W" mintmark from the West Point Mint. These U. S. Mint coins are now becoming quite popular due to their increasing age and scarcity.
Over the course of the last 25 years, most of the 1996-W Roosevelt Dimes have been distributed only in 1996 uncirculated commemorative coin sets, but incredibly, some of the coins were removed from their cellophane packages and then spent as regular money.
The uncirculated 1996-W Roosevelt dimes are often worth $15 or more.
Roosevelt Dime Values
In general, Roosevelt dimes can be quite valuable to certain types of people and coin collectors, and they can be prized for their silver content. However, they are not especially rare coins and they can usually be found quite easily in a collection of a large number of dimes.