Denver Gold and Silver
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Denver, Colorado 80246
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Seated Liberty (18371891)
Main article: United States Seated Liberty coinage
1843 Seated Liberty dime, with stars on the obverse
Christian Gobrecht completed the design of this dime, whose obverse
was used with every circulating silver U.S. coin of the period. Mint
Director Robert Maskell Patterson requested a new coin design, to be
reminiscent of the Britannia image found on coinage of the United
Kingdom. Chief Engraver William Kneass drew the original sketches, but
suffered a stroke and was too ill to finish them or to oversee
preparation of the dies. The task then fell to Gobrecht, who was
promoted to Second Engraver.
The obverse features an image of Liberty sitting on a rock, wearing
a dress and holding a staff with a liberty cap on top. Her right hand
is balancing a shield with the inscription "LIBERTY." The reverse
featured the inscription "ONE DIME," surrounded by a wreath. All
Seated Liberty dimes contain 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper,
and are 17.9 millimeters (0.705 inch) in diameter. This size and metal
composition would continue until 1965, when silver was permanently
removed from circulating dimes.
There were several minor varieties during the Seated Liberty's run.
The initial design (1837) had no stars on the obverse and, further,
the dates were minted in a Large Date and Small Date variety. These
two types can be distinguished by noting the "3" and the "7" in the
date. In the Large Date variety, the "3" has a pointed serif at top,
and the horizontal element of the "7" is straight. In the Small Date
variety, the "3" has a rounded serif, and there is small a knob, or
bulge, in the "7" horizontal element. Only the Philadelphia Mint
made both varieties. The Small Date is slightly rarer. The New Orleans
Mint also made the Seated Liberty Dime in this year, but only in the
Small Date variety.
Thirteen stars (symbolizing the 13 original colonies) were added to
the perimeter of the obverse in 1838. These were replaced with the
legend "United States of America," which was moved from the reverse in
mid-1860. At the same time, the laurel wreath on the reverse was
changed to a wreath of corn, wheat, maple, and oak leaves and expanded
nearly to the rim of the coin. This reverse design continued through
the end of the series in 1891 and was changed only slightly in 1892,
when the Barber dime debuted. Another variety is the 183840 dime
minted with no drapery underneath the left elbow of Liberty.
1874 cc Seated Liberty dime, with arrows
Arrows at the date in 1853 and 1873 indicated changes made in the
coin's mass (from 2.67 grams to 2.49 grams in 1853, then to 2.50
grams in 1873). The first change was made in response to rising
silver prices, while the latter alteration was brought about by the
Mint Act of 1873 which, in an attempt to make U.S. coinage the
currency of the world, added a small amount of mass to the dime,
quarter, and half-dollar to bring their weights in line with
fractions of the French 5-franc piece..
This produced the greatest rarities in the Seated Dime Series, the
1873 & 1874 Carson City Dimes, with arrows and the unique 1873
Carson City Dime without arrows.