Like a lot of other U.S. coins you might find in circulation, there are some valuable ones to be found in the form of dimes. A "dime" refers to a ten-cent piece in the system of US coinage.
Dimes may not be worth very much money in terms of face value, but they can really bring in some huge sums when they are sold for their silver content at auctions and coin shows across the country.
Well, How Much Can They Really Be Worth?
All dimes produced before 1965 are 90% silver, so they will always command prices that are many times their face value. Most of the dimes produced after 1964 are worth only their face value, but there are a few exceptions, as we’ll explain later in this article.
You may not think a few small coins can add up to anything of great worth, but that might be because you don’t understand the history of these coins. Specifically, when it comes to the dime, there are so many historical factors that have had a huge influence on the value of these coins today.
The dime was the first coin produced by the U.S. Mint, long before any mint building existed. George Washington was the one who ordered the first batch of dimes in 1792, which were all made on a borrowed press in his basement. The first dime produced in a U.S. Mint building was actually only struck in 1796.
The earliest ten-cent coins pictured Lady Liberty, either in full profile form or as a bust. From 1916 to 1945, coin designers put wings on her head, and this sometimes led people to think it was an image of Mercury. Today, these types of dimes are actually referred to as Mercury Dimes.) In 1946, the coins from this year were the first ones to feature President Roosevelt’s image.
All of the dimes we’ve mentioned so far were traditionally made mainly from silver, though some dimes did get made out of copper when there was a silver shortage. The Coinage Act of 1965 decreed that all silver should be removed and replaced with a combination of nickel and copper.
Like lots of other rare coins, the most valuable dimes are the ones that are still in mint condition. This does not mean that the dime has to look just as it did when it was originally minted. There are plenty of normal and reasonable changes in coloration that can be expected when it comes to old coins.
When a coin is cleaned, it may in fact make it less valuable. The dimes that can be sold for the highest values have to be in the best condition possible. These dimes are also extremely rare, due to various reasons. Some of these reasons might include production errors, a small quantity of the specific coin in production, or the fact that large numbers of the coins were already melted down for their silver content.
There are two main organizations that certify coins in the United States. These are the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Both of these organizations use the Sheldon Scale to assign a numerical rating. These ratings can range from 1 to 70. Coins rated 60 or higher are generally referred to as coins in a “mint state” and they are considered the most valuable ones.
In this article, we’ll take a look at ten of the most valuable dimes that you can find in circulation, and we’ll also give you a brief overview of a few of the other coins that might also be worth a fair amount of money.
1. Valuable Dime #1: 1968 No S Roosevelt Dime Proof
This is the first proof coin that was mistakenly struck without the mint mark, and only about 12 such coins are known to exist. It is believed that the San Francisco Mint caught the mistake early and adjusted the die for future coins.
2. Valuable Dime #2: the 1945 S Micro S Full Band Mercury Dime
The 1945 S dime is the only one known to have the Micro S mintmark appear 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. In addition, dimes from this year struck in San Francisco were badly struck so those with full bands are rare.
3. Valuable Dime #3: 1798 Small 8 Draped Bust Dime
The 1798 Small 8 Draped Bust Dime was sold at auction for $253,000. In 1798, both Small 8 and Large 8 coins were minted. The Small 8 is a bit rarer than the Large 8, which creates higher demand and value.
4. Valuable Dime #4: 1856 S Seated Liberty Dime or 1844 Seated Liberty Dime
This was the first year dimes were produced at the San Francisco Mint. With only 70,000 of the 1856 S dimes minted, even low-grade coins are rare. Overall, the 1856 S dimes are worth much more than others that were minted that year. However, coins in mint state are extremely rare.
The 1844 Seated Liberty Dime also had a relatively low mintage (72,500), but there is no real shortage of this coin in worn condition. It was even nicknamed “Little Orphan Annie”, mainly because it has been very underappreciated by most coin collectors. There are only 15 examples of this coin, and it is one of the best examples of a coin that has been certified by the PCGS.
5. Valuable Dime #5: 1860 O Seated Liberty Dime or 1874 CC Seated Liberty Dime With Arrows
In 1860, both sides of the O Seated Liberty Dime were updated. The Legend Obverse was used to replace the former Stars Obverse design. Again, the O designation shows that the coins were minted in New Orleans. There were only 40,000 of them, and many were melted when Louisiana seceded from the Union in 1861.
The arrows on the 1874 CC Seated Liberty Dime appear on either side of the date on the coin to indicate the increase in weight from 1873. Produced at the Carson City Mint, there are only five mint-condition examples of this coin known, and it is estimated that there are less than 50 of these coins still existing in any condition.
6. Valuable Dime #6: 1798 Large 8 Draped Bust Dime
While the 1798 Small 8 dime is less common, the Large 8 dime is also rare. With only 27,550 minted, those in mint state, as this coin is, are even more valuable. This coin is unusual in that the reverse die was previously used as the reverse of a 1798 quarter.
7. Valuable Dime #7: 1846 Seated Liberty Dime or 1859 S Seated Liberty Dime
With only a small number of 1846 Seated Liberty Dimes produced, the coin is considered to be very rare in any condition. This is one of only three 1846 Seated Liberty dimes to be certified mint condition by both certifying agencies and is one of the two best ones known to exist.
The 1859 S Seated Liberty Dime is also rare in any condition, but especially in grades very fine and above. Only one set of dies was used in production, with a total mintage of 60,000, which made it the rarest dime of the 1850s.
8. Valuable Dime #8: 1918 D Full Band Mercury Dime
This mint condition coin from the Denver Mint is rare. Only a few dozen 1918 dimes have been certified with full bands by PCGS. The central bands on the reverse are at one of the highest points of the coin, causing it to wear out the quickest. So coins with full bands are prized by coin collectors. It was sold at auction for $182,125.
9. Valuable Dime #9: 1872 CC Seated Liberty Dime
Dimes from the Carson City Mint in 1872 are rare, especially those rated very fine or above. This particular coin is rated mint condition. The Carson City Mint used the same reverse die for all Liberty Seated dimes from 1871 to 1874.
In 1872, the die developed a light crack which could be seen on some of the later coins. It was sold at auction for the high price of $188,000.
10. Valuable Dime #10: 1916 D Full Band Mercury Dime
Only 264,000 1916 D dimes were produced. The PCGS has graded 24 dimes full band with varying mint certifications. The full band designation indicates that the coins were struck from fresh dies, for greater detail in the central band on the reverse side.
A 1916 D dime in slightly lower condition brought $152,750 at auction in 2013 while one in 2015 brought $94,000. There was another 1916 D dime in good condition that sold at a 2015 auction for $43,475.
Other Valuable Dimes
There were only 120,780 of the 1805 4 Berries Draped Bust Dime, which came in two varieties. The more common of the two, the face of the 4 Berries dime was struck from the same die as the earlier 5 Berries version. The reverse die was new and has only four berries on the olive branch, rather than five.
1871 was the first year Carson City produced dimes, and only 20,000 of the CC Seated Liberty dimes were minted that year. Since all of these coins went into circulation, it is believed that only four or five dimes are in mint condition and only 50 to 200 in any other condition exist.
Also, there are only two known 1975 No S Roosevelt dimes, so it is one of the rarest U.S. dimes. Minted in San Francisco, this coin is missing the mint mark (designated by an "S" on the face of the coin) present on other proof coins. Only 12,400 of the CC No Arrows Seated Liberty Dimes were issued by the Carson City Mint in 1873.
The standard weight of the dime changed in 1873, and the arrows were added to indicate an increase in weight. The old dimes were supposed to be melted down and recoined at the heavier new standard. Although more than two million of the 1894 S Barber dimes were produced, it appears that only 24 were minted in San Francisco, making this dime extremely rare. It is believed that only nine of these still exist.
If you discover any dimes minted before 1917, you should keep them when it comes to coin collecting. These classic dimes are not only scarce, but they are also very difficult to find in circulation. These old coins can include Bust dimes, Liberty Seated dimes, and Liberty Head (“Barber”) dimes.
Depending on their condition, these coin values may be around $5 to more than $100. Winged Liberty Head dimes, also known as Mercury dimes, are highly scarce. They do, however, turn up from time to time in circulation. There are a few rare business strikes, such as the 1916-D, 1921, and 1921-D.
There are also some other hard-to-find varieties, such as the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D overdates. All are worth hundreds of dollars or more in decent condition. Roosevelt dimes struck before 1965 are made from a 90% silver composition.
They are worth a premium for their precious metal content. Most Roosevelt dimes from the 1946–1964 period are very common and they are worth only their precious metal value. In general, well-circulated Roosevelt dimes made before 1965 are worth between $1.25 and $2.
Lightly worn examples of scarcer issues are worth significantly more. This includes the 1949, 1949-D, and 1949-S. These can be worth about $5 or so. Several No-S Roosevelt dimes from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s were minted at the San Francisco Mint without an "S" mintmark.
These No-S dimes were found only in proof sets. They should not be confused with pre-1980 business-strike dimes from the Philadelphia Mint. These rare No-S dimes are worth a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000. Some Philadelphia-minted Roosevelt dimes were struck without their "P" mintmarks.
These have become popular collector’s pieces. While they are scarce, they can still be found in circulation at times. The most valuable examples are uncirculated pieces with a strong strike, but even worn examples are worth well above their face value. A typical 1982 No-P Roosevelt dime is worth $55 to $95.
1996-W Roosevelt Dimes
The United States Mint honored the 50th anniversary of the Roosevelt dime in 1996. It introduced a special dime bearing the "W" mintmark from the West Point Mint. These 1996-W dimes were distributed only in 1996 uncirculated sets, but some of the dimes were removed from their cellophane packages and spent as regular money. An uncirculated 1996-W Roosevelt dime is worth around $14.
Dimes With Doubled Dies
With enough careful searching, you may find a doubled-die Roosevelt dime. This hub doubling may range from very light to drastic. But in all cases doubled dies are scarce collectibles that are worth $20 to $50 or more. The more dramatic the doubled die, the more valuable.
That can be especially true if the doubling can be clearly seen with the naked eye. Doubled dies that can be seen only under high magnification are generally not very valuable, although they are true errors.
Dimes With Off-Center Strikes
An off-center strike can occur in one of two ways. Either the dies are misaligned or the retaining collar fails to deploy. Off-center strikes of less than 5% are not often worth big premiums. Those between 10% and 50% off-center can have coin values from $10 to $100, but these can be a lot higher if the entire date is visible.
Dimes With Other Errors
Most things that people think are error coins are really just damaged coins. Still, there is a wide range of mint mistakes worth a premium price and rare dimes like these can be quite valuable. They range from only a few dollars in the case of a mild die clash to several hundred dollars for impressive die caps.
Other Tips For Looking For Valuable Dimes
Many people limit their search for rare and valuable dimes to simply the coins passing through their hands as pocket change, but there are more efficient ways to look for these collectible coins. You can check bankrolls, bags, and boxes that you can purchase for face value from banks.
Looking through many dimes at once is a highly efficient strategy. Like so many other ways of getting rich, finding valuable coins among your change collection may not exactly be the quickest or most effective way to rake in a lot of money.
But if you try to remember some of the distinguishing characteristics of these valuable dimes, who knows? Perhaps next time you sift through a pocket of coins, you’ll find one that might just fetch a hefty sum at the coin show or auction.