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Denver Coins --> United States Coins --> United State Dime

Denver Gold and Silver
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Denver, Colorado 80246

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- Dime 10 Cents

The dime is a coin worth ten cents or one tenth of a United States dollar. The dime is the smallest in diameter and the thinnest of all U.S. coins currently minted for circulation. The 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is featured on the obverse of the current design, while a torch, oak branch, and olive branch covering the motto E pluribus unum are featured on the reverse. The dime's value is labeled as "one dime", since the term 'dime' also applies to a unit of currency worth 10 cents or 1/10 of a dollar.

The dime was commissioned by the Coinage Act of 1792, and production began in 1796. A feminine head representing Liberty was used on the front of the coin, and an eagle was used on the back. The front and back of the dime used these motifs for three different designs through 1837. The composition and diameter of the dime have changed throughout its mintage. Initially the dime was 0.75 inch (19 millimeters) wide, but it was changed to its present size of 0.705 inch (17.91 millimeters) in 1828. The composition (initially 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper) remained constant until 1837, when it was altered to 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. Dimes with this composition were minted until 1966, although those minted in 1965 and 1966 bear the date 1964. Beginning in 1965, dimes also began to be minted with a clad composition of cupronickel; this composition is still in use today.

The term dime comes from old French "di(s)me", meaning "tithe" or "tenth part", from the Latin decima [pars]. This term appeared on early pattern coins, but was not used on any dimes until 1837.

Denomination history and etymology

The term dime comes from old French "disme", meaning "tithe" or "tenth part", from the Latin decima [pars].

The first known proposal for a decimal-based coinage system in the United States was made in 1783 by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and David Rittenhouse. Hamilton, the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury, recommended the issuance of six such coins in 1791, in a report to Congress. Among the six was a silver coin, "which shall be, in weight and value, one tenth part of a silver unit or dollar".

From 1796 to 1837, dimes were composed of 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper,. the value of which required the coins to be very small to prevent their intrinsic value being worth more than face value. The composition was altered slightly in 1837 with the introduction of the Seated Liberty dime; the silver content was increased to 90 percent, while the copper content was reduced to 10 percent. To maintain the intrinsic value of the new dime, its diameter was reduced from 18.8 millimeters (0.740 inch) to its current figure of 17.9 millimeters (0.705 inch).

With the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965, the dime's silver content was removed. Dimes from 1965 to the present are composed of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. Starting in 1992, the U.S. Mint began issuing Silver Proof Sets annually, which contain dimes composed of the pre-1965 standard of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. These sets are intended solely for collectors, and are not meant for general circulation.

Design history

Since its introduction in 1796, the dime has been issued in six different major types, excluding the 1792 "disme". The name for each type indicates the design on the coin's obverse, the Barber dime excepted.

Rare Dimes:

  • Bust Dimes Draped Bust, Small Eagle Reverse (All are rare) 1796-1797 $400.00-$3,000.00
  • Bust Dimes Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle Reverse
    (All are rare) 1798-1807 $125.00-$1,000.00
  • Bust Dimes Capped Bust (Rare date: 1822) 1809-1837 $8.00-$75.00 $400.00-$1,250.00
  • Seated Dimes (Rare dates: 1844, 1860-O, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1870-S, 1871-CC, 1872-CC, 1873-CC, 1874-CC, 1879-1881, 1885-S; Many scarce dates) 1837-1891 $4.00-$15.00 $100.00-$175.00
  • Barber Dimes (Rare dates: 1894-S, 1895-O; Scarce dates: 1892-S, 1893-O, 1894-O, 1895, 1895-S, 1896-O, 1896-S, 1897-O, 1901-S, 1903-S, 1904-S, 1913-S) 1892-1916 $2.00-$5.00 $60.00-$125.00
  • Mercury Dimes (Rare dates: 1916-D; Scarce dates: 1921, 1921-D, 1926-S, 1931-D,1931-S) 1916-1945 $1.50-$2.00 $4.00-$10.00
  • Roosevelt Dimes Silver (No rare dates) 1946-1964 $1.50-$2.00 $2.00-$5.00
  • Roosevelt Dimes Clad (No rare dates) 1965-Present Face Value Face Value

"Disme" (1792)

The Coinage Act of 1792, passed on April 2, 1792, authorized the mintage of a "disme", one-tenth the silver weight and value of a dollar. The composition of the disme was set at 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper. In 1792, a limited number of dismes were minted but never circulated. Some of these were struck in copper, indicating that the 1792 dismes were in fact pattern coins. The first dimes minted for circulation did not appear until 1796, due to a lack of demand for the coin and production problems at the United States Mint.

Continue -- United State Dimes

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