Like a lot of other U.S. coins you might find in circulation, there are some valuable ones that can be found in the form of dimes.
A "dime" is how to describe a ten-cent piece in the system of US coinage. Dimes may not be worth very much money when you look at their 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.
Which Dimes Are Made out of Silver?
Dimes have traditionally always been made mainly from silver, though some dimes 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 a combination of nickel and copper.
Most of the dimes produced after 1964 are worth only their face value, but there are a few exceptions. All of the dimes that were produced in the United States before 1965 are made of 90% silver. Although these coins are sometimes referred to as “junk silver” in the industry, they are often extremely valuable.
Also, every year since 1992, the proof Roosevelt dimes issued by the U.S. Mint in special Silver Proof Sets have all been struck from .900 pure silver. Another thing to look for: if your dime shows an image of Lady Liberty, it might almost certainly be made of silver.
This includes both Seated Liberty (minted 1837–1891) and Barber dimes (minted 1892–1916). Be sure to hang onto these coins if you come across them in your coin collection. Another good candidate is the silver Mercury dime (minted 1916–1945).
Originally known as the Winged Liberty Head Dime, the design features Lady Liberty in profile, wearing a winged Phrygian cap. Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, this image was often confused with the Roman god Mercury, and through the years this coin has become exclusively known as the Mercury Dime.
Silver Coin Values
Keep in mind that the special qualities of each type of coin can contribute to stronger individual value. Greater interest from large numbers of collectors, plus a strong base demand from the coin’s silver content, can often be the determining factors when working out the value of your coins.
If you are wondering what your silver dime might be worth, you can calculate the melt value of the coin by multiplying its actual silver weight, 0.07234 troy oz, by the current spot price of silver. The price of silver bullion is a volatile number, so be sure to check it 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 dime has to look like it did when it was originally minted. There are plenty of reasonable coloration changes that can be expected when it comes to old coins.
Clean coins may in fact 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 organizations use the Sheldon Scale to come up with a numerical rating 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. There are lots of silver dimes that can be valuable, but they can be hard to find. Below, we will take a look at ten of the most valuable silver dimes that you can sometimes find in circulation if you are very lucky.
Silver Dime #1: 1874 CC Seated Liberty Dime With Arrows
The arrows on the 1874 CC Seated Liberty Dime can be found 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 there are only about 50 of these coins still existing in any condition.
Silver Dime #2: 1943 Mercury Dime
It is a good idea to simply check the date on the front (obverse) of the coin. Some of the older dimes with the familiar Franklin D. Roosevelt design still in use today will also be 90% silver. Judging whether or not a modern proof dime is made of silver can be quite hard. You might want to consult a numismatist or bullion dealer that can test the coin for silver because there is no other way to be sure without causing damage to the coin.
Silver Dime #3: 1844 Seated Liberty Dime
The 1844 Seated Liberty Dime had a low mintage (72,500), but there is no real shortage of this coin in worn condition. It was even nicknamed “Little Orphan Annie”, mostly because it has been underrated by most coin collectors. There are only 15 examples of this coin that have been certified by the PCGS.
Silver Dime #4: 1945 S Micro S Full Band Mercury Dime
The 1945 S dime is the only coin where you will find the 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. In addition, dimes from this year struck in San Francisco were not of great quality so those with full bands are rare.
Silver Dime #5: 1798 Large 8 Draped Bust Dime
The 1798 Large 8 Draped Bust Dime is also quite rare. With only 27,550 of these coins minted, those in mint state have become even more valuable. These coins are very unusual in their design because the reverse die was also at one time used as the reverse side of a 1798 quarter.
Silver Dime #6: 1846 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 it is now one of the two best ones available.
Silver Dime #7: 1918 D Full Band Mercury Dime
This mint condition coin from the Denver Mint is rare, and one of these specimens was once sold at auction for $182,125. 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, which causes it to wear out quite fast. The coins with full bands are the ones that are most highly valued by coin collectors.
Silver Dime #8: 1872 CC Seated Liberty Dime
Dimes from the Carson City Mint in 1872 are rare, especially those rated very fine or above. The Carson City Mint used the same reverse die for all Liberty Seated dimes from 1871 to 1874. During 1872, the die developed a light crack which could be seen on some of the later coins. Coins like these have been sold at auctions for the amazing price of $188,000.
Silver Dime #9: 1859 S Seated Liberty Dime
The 1859 S Seated Liberty Dime is also a rare coin in any condition, but this is true especially in grades very fine and above. Only one set of dies was used during the production phase, with a total mintage of 60,000, which made it the rarest dime of the entire 1850s decade.
Silver 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 means that the coins were struck from fresh dies, with 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.
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 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. 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 that was 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.
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 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 has been reported that only 24 of these coins were minted in San Francisco, which makes this kind of dime extremely rare in the world of numismatics. It is believed that only nine of these types of coins can still be found in circulation.
Another point of interest: there were only about 120,000 of the 1805 4 Berries Draped Bust Dime, which came in two varieties. 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 it depicts only four berries on the olive branch, instead of five.
Winged Liberty Head dimes, also known as Mercury dimes, are very rare. There are a few rare business strikes, such as the 1916-D, 1921, and 1921-D. There are also some other varieties that are harder to find, such as the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D overdates.
All of these coins can be worth hundreds of dollars or more if they are in decent condition. Just to give an indication of the kind of value that these coins might have: there is evidence of a 1964 Kennedy half dollar being worth a world-record price of $108,000, making it the most expensive coin of its type.
This amount was raised during a public auction of rare U.S. coins held during April 2019, by Heritage Auctions. Roosevelt dimes struck before 1965 are composed out of 90% silver. Like half dollars or silver dollars, these coins can be worth a premium price for their precious metal content.
Unfortunately, most of the silver Roosevelt dimes that come from the 1946–1964 period are actually a little more common than you might expect and they are usually worth only their precious metal value. As an example, well-circulated Roosevelt dimes that were produced before 1965 are usually worth between $1.30 and $2.
Lightly worn examples of rare coins can be worth significantly more at times. These types might include coins from 1949, 1949-D, and 1949-S, which can each be worth around $5. 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 Roosevelt Dimes were distributed only in 1996 uncirculated sets as collectible coins, but some of the dimes were removed from their cellophane packages and simply spent as regular money. The uncirculated 1996-W Roosevelt dimes are worth $15 or so.
Finding 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. Mercury and Roosevelt dimes produced in 1964 or before have 90% Silver content. 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). 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 a lucrative strategy that might bring 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 a princely sum at a coin auction or show.