Ever since the United States Mint started producing paper money and a wide array of precious metal coins domestically and in various countries all over the world, certain designs have been more popular with coin collectors than others.
One of those designs is the well-known Barber dime, which was started in production early on during the first half of the 20th century.
Barber Dimes: Face Value and Design
The word "dime" refers to a ten-cent piece in the system of US coinage. Like a lot of other US coins you might find in circulation, there are some valuable ones that can be found in the form of Barber dimes.
Dimes may not be worth very much money when you only consider their face value, but they can really bring in large amounts of money when they are sold for their silver content at auctions and coin shows across the country.
In 1892, the Liberty Head “Barber” dime was introduced with the Barber dime series of coins, which also included a quarter, a half dollar, and a nickel. The designs for all four of these coins were created by Charles E. Barber, the chief engraver of the United States Mint.
The original 1892 coins were replaced in 1916 by the Standing Liberty quarter after their minimum term expired. On the obverse, the coins show the head of Lady Liberty as well as the inscription “United States of America”.
The year of mintage can be seen beneath the portrait of Liberty. The denomination is stamped on the reverse side of the coin within a wreath.
Which Dimes Are Made from Silver?
All dimes have traditionally been made mainly from silver, though some of them were made out of copper during times of silver shortages. The Coinage Act of 1965 decreed that all silver had to be removed and replaced with cupro-nickel, a combination of nickel and copper.
Most of the dimes produced after 1964 are generally worth only their face value, but there are a few exceptions. One of the most important things to consider is that all of the dimes that were produced in the United States before 1965 used to be made out of 90% silver.
Although these coins are sometimes referred to as “junk silver” in the industry, they can often turn out to be extremely valuable. Another important thing to consider: if your coin shows an image of Lady Liberty, it might almost certainly be made of silver.
This includes both the Seated Liberty (minted 1837–1891) coins and the Barber dimes (minted 1892–1916). Be sure to keep these coins safe if you happen to come across them in your coin collection.
The War Effort and Metals
As explained by the American Numismatic Association, the US Mint has been producing the coinage of the United States since the country was founded more than two hundred years ago.
During World War II, lots of valuable materials like shell casings and munitions were directly related to the war effort. All of these materials required a lot of precious metal to make. This is why some coins from this time period are worth more than many of the coins from other years.
Metal was not the only commodity or valuable substance that grew increasingly important to the war effort. Many consumers saved supplies that were rationed using coupon books issued by the government.
Although this rationing took up plenty of time and energy, there was still the need for coins of all denominations in many spheres of society. The Barber dime was one of the most popular coins that were produced in this era, and they often remain popular with coin collectors to this day.
Barber Dime Values
Keep in mind that the special qualities you will find in coin design can contribute to stronger individual value. Greater interest from large numbers of collectors, plus a strong grassroots demand for the silver content in coins like the Barber dime, can often be some determining factors when you are working out how much they might be worth.
You can easily find the melt value of your coin by multiplying its actual silver weight, 0.07234 troy oz, by the current silver spot price. The price of silver bullion is very volatile, so be sure to refer back to it quite often if you are trying to work out the real value of your coins.
The most valuable dimes are the ones that are still in mint condition. This does not mean that the coin has to look like it did when it was originally minted. There are plenty of reasonable coloration changes that are expected when it comes to old coins.
In fact, some of the cleanest coins can often be less valuable. The dimes that can be sold for the highest values have to be in excellent condition. 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 services use the Sheldon Scale to assign coins a numerical rating from 1 to 70.
Coins rated 60 or higher are in a “mint state” and they are mostly considered the most valuable ones. The Barber dimes are often valuable, as we’ll explore in greater detail below. But aside from the Barber dimes, there are also quite a lot of other silver dimes that can sometimes have value, but they can be hard to find.
Other Valuable Dimes
In general, if you discover any dimes minted before 1917, you should keep them. These classic dimes are rare and hard to find in circulation. These old coins can often include the Liberty Head (“Barber”) dimes.
Depending on their condition, these coin values may range from around $5 to more than $100. 1871 was the first year Carson City produced dimes. Just over 12,000 of the CC No Arrows Seated Liberty Dimes were issued by the Carson City Mint in 1873.
The standard weight of the dime was changed in 1873, and the arrows were added to show the increase in weight. The old dimes were supposed to be melted down and recoined at the heavier new standard.
Although more than two million 1894 S Barber dimes were produced, there were only 24 of these coins minted in San Francisco and not in Philadelphia, Denver, or New Orleans, which makes those coins very rare in the numismatics world. It is believed that only nine of these types of coins can still be found in circulation.
Other Varieties to Look for in Silver Dimes
Determining if your dime is silver can be quite easy and it takes just a few moments. First, you want to look for the mintage year. While the year of mintage is the easiest clue, the white and lustrous appearance of these coins hints at their metal content.
The edge of the coin edge will be silver all the way through, with no line of other metal at its core. Like gold coins or those made out of palladium, there are lots of very efficient ways for you to look for silver dimes (also known as junk silver coins).
It is a good idea to search through bankrolls, bags, and boxes that you can buy from banks for face value. Going through large quantities of uncirculated dimes at once can be a strategy that can bring you some quite rich rewards.
If you try to remember just a few of the distinguishing characteristics of these junk silver coins that we have described above, and if you take care to add them to your coin collection, you just might discover that a few of them may one day be worth lots of money at a coin auction or show.
Grading Each Type of Barber Dime
When it comes to coins like the Barber dime, you’ll find that many coin collectors will care a great deal about the specific condition of the coin. Many Barber dimes can be found in a poor condition, which is not surprising if they have been circulated for many decades.
However, many of the coins have been excellently preserved over the years and they are still looking very good. In general, coins that are in better condition are more highly prized by coin collectors.
All coins need to be carefully examined and separated by grade. The difference in value from the lower grades to the higher and more collectible grades can often be very large numbers indeed! When a coin enters circulation, wear removes some of the fine texture that produces the shine or luster, and a loss of this luster can lead to lower coin values.
To determine the exact condition of your coin, you can send it to a third-party grading service (like the Professional Coin Grading Service or PCGS) to get it authenticated. If you don’t have the time and money to do that, we’ll give you a few broad specifications to help you understand some of the characteristics of coins of specific grades.
How to Use the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale
You should always refer to the Sheldon scale when you are trying to get an idea of the possible value of your Barber dimes. Designed by William Herbert Sheldon, the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale is a comprehensive system of grading that is used as a standard grading scale.
It is a 70-point coin grading scale that many coin professionals rely on to assess the numismatic value of any of their coins. The American Numismatic Association has now based its Official ANA Grading Standards mostly on the Sheldon scale.
Also, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (or NGC) has suggested the following broad grading guidelines for coin collectors to use when assessing their coins:
- Poor Grade: Coin rims are flat or damaged and details are indistinct.
- Fair Grade: Some details are visible.
- Good Grade: Details are visible but not perfect.
- Very good Grade: All details are readable.
- Fine Grade: Raised areas are distinct and sharp.
- Very fine Grade: Coin is nearly perfect with a little wear on the higher points.
- Mint state Grade (NGC MS): The coin is in the same state as it was struck.
Looking More Carefully at the Barber Dime
If you are trying to get a better idea of the value of a graded Barber dime, there are a few important things that you might want to consider. The condition of the coin is paramount when you are trying to sell it.
If you have a well-preserved Barber dime, you can often expect a higher price. Also, the exact type of dime you have will also have a big influence on coin values.
Some Helpful Ways to Find Valuable Barber Dimes
These days, Barber dimes are not often found in modern circulation because they are so old. Even so, millions of Barber dimes still exist in drawers and attics because of coin collectors who have saved them over the years.
This means that Barber dimes, which had a high mintage, are still numismatically quite common. Generally, the most valuable dimes are still in mint condition. Coins with the highest values all tend to be in the best condition possible because this is an especially attractive quality for many coin collectors and other coin specialists.
Some coin collectors put a limit on the amount of time they spend searching for rare and valuable dimes to only the coins that they personally handle, but there are much more efficient ways to find these collectible coins.
For example, you can check boxes or bankrolls that you can buy for face value from a few local banks. Another strategy for coin collectors is to look online. A quick search on eBay lists a wide selection of Barber dimes for sale, as well as plenty of other similar coins.
Finding the exact type that you want can be quite easy when they are readily available on websites such as this. Buying coins online is a safe and affordable option. You will often find that websites like eBay will offer return shipping and they will accept all returns within 30 days.
Refunds will usually be given as money back, so you can enjoy complete peace of mind when you decide to purchase (or sell) your coins online.
Pricing Your Barber Dimes
If you are trying to figure out what your proof coin might be worth, you can try calculating the melt value 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 online as often and regularly as possible.
Those types of damaged coins that have been graded lower on the Sheldon scale are often going to be worth quite a lot less than you might think. Damaged coins of any mintage can sometimes be worth only their face value to most coin dealers, even if they do happen to be Barber dimes.
Further Details About Coin Values
Other variations in the value of your coin can also arise in more subtle grading points, the specific demands of certain coin collectors, or all kinds of other individual dealer needs. Use the step-by-step method that we explained above to assess the condition of your coin and to identify the dates and mintmarks.
For more specific details on how to properly assess your coin values, we suggest referring to the United States Mint Annual Reports, the 1948 U.S. Mint Annual Report, and the U.S. Mint Catalogue of Coins of the United States.