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UNITED STATES TEN CENTS OR DIME
(1796-DATE)

Click on any the images or links at right to learn more about the different design types.

The first United States Dimes appeared in 1796 but gave no indication as to their face value!  The first type (Draped Bust) featured a buxom Miss Liberty with her long tresses neatly tied up in a bow.  The back of the coin showed a somewhat scrawny eagle with wings outstretched standing on a bed of clouds, all surrounded by a wreath.  In 1798, the reverse design changed and mimicked the Great Seal of the United States, thereafter showing  an eagle with outstretched wings and a shield on its breast, clouds and stars above.  This design lasted until 1807.

Any confusion as to the value of this denomination ceased in 1809, when "10 C" was added to the base of the reverse.  The new design showed Liberty facing left, with a Liberty cap on her head.  On the back of the coin, the eagle struck a more natural pose, but still bore a shield on its breast.  Production of this type was sporadic in the early years, but from 1820 to 1837 (when the design ended) every year is represented.

In 1837, the Seated Liberty design debuted.  Here, Liberty sits upon a rock wearing a long dress and holding a staff with a Liberty Cap perched atop.  Her other hand balances a shield.  The earliest versions bore no stars on the obverse...in 1840, thirteen stars were added to the front of the coin...in 1860, the legend "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" replaced the stars.  The back of the coin also went through some changes during its life.  The earliest versions showed the words "ONE DIME" within a plain wreath...in 1860, the wreath became larger and more ornate.  From 1853 to 1855 and again from 1873 to 1874, arrowheads were placed on either side of the date to indicate changes in the weights of the coins.  This design ended in 1891.

The Barber type (named after its designer, Charles Barber) appeared from 1892 to 1916.  This type boasts one of the classic American rarities, the 1894-S Dime.

The so-called "Mercury Head" type ran from 1916 to 1945.  The head is actually a depiction of Liberty wearing a cap with small wings at the ears, evocative of the god Mercury.  The reverse features a fasces (a battle ax surrounded by a bundle of staffs)...a design element later made infamous by the Fascists of Italy.

In 1946, the U.S. memorialized President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by creating a Dime in his honor, a design that has remained until today.  1964 was the last year in which 90% silver Dimes were produced...thereafter, Dimes were made of a "clad" composition consisting of alloys of Copper and Nickel over a pure copper center.

Obverse of 1796 Dime     Reverse of 1796 Dime
Draped Bust (1796-1807)
Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Obverse of Capped Bust Half Dime     Reverse of Capped Bust Half Dime
Capped Bust (1809-1837)
Images courtesy of David Akers Numismatics

Seated Liberty Dime Obverse     Seated Liberty Dime Reverse
Seated Liberty (1837-1891)
 Images courtesy of Superior Galleries

    
Barber (1892-1916)
 Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

1938 Mercury Dime Obverse     1938 Mercury Dime Reverse
Mercury Head (1916-1945)
Images courtesy of Early American History Auctions


Roosevelt (1946-Date)

 
 

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