Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Dimes
1854 ARROWS 10C MS

Description & Analysis

The massive output of dimes from the Philadelphia Mint in 1853 went a long way toward replacing the decades of dime production at the earlier, now obsolete, standard. Though the 4.47 million pieces struck for 1854 was still an enormous mintage for the period, this only serves to show the magnitude of the need for replacement coins.

In order to speed this recoining by encouraging deposits of silver bullion, Mint Director James R. Snowden disregarded a provision of the 1853 law stipulating that fractional silver coins be paid out only in exchange for gold coin. This clause had been included to prevent a redundancy of fractional silver, as these coins had only limited legal tender value and could be refused by banks in excess of their needs. Snowden believed that the earlier shortage was so severe that the problem could be addressed only by sidestepping the law and, for a time, he was correct. He therefore offered to purchase silver bullion at slightly higher than the market price and to pay for it with newly-minted silver coins. By 1857, however, their numbers had become a nuisance, and his policy was rescinded during the following year.

There are no true varieties for the 1854 dime, despite the many dies required for such a large mintage. Only various die state anomalies are found, and the most appealing of these is F-104a with its shattered obverse.