Description and Analysis

Mercury Dimes

Description & Analysis

The U. S. Mint anticipated that dimes of this new type by Adolph A. Weinman would be in mass production by summer at the latest, but this was not to be. As with most of the coin designs created outside of the Mint's own Engraving Department, there were technical issues that had to be addressed, and large scale production did not begin until October. In the meantime, the demand for additional dimes could no longer be ignored, and millions were coined with the 1916 date but carrying Charles Barber's old Liberty Head design.

It was not until October 28, 1916 that the new dimes were released to circulation. Both numismatic and general publications had been reporting on these coins for months, and there was a tremendous sense of anticipation when they finally debuted. Reviews were almost universally favorable.

Americans took the new dimes to heart, saving many thousands of them in Mint State condition. This remains a common issue across a broad range of grades, and some truly amazing gems may be found.

Most of these survivors are reasonably well struck, but only a quarter or fewer have fully struck horizontal bands to the fasces, and such coins bring a premium. Often overlooked, however, is that other portions of the design may be weakly struck on a Full Band specimen. Coins saved by non-numismatists often are found with extremely deep toning that ranges from golden brown to nearly black. The finer specimens were most likely in the hands of collectors from the outset.