2016-W Mercury Dime Debuts

Posted on 4/7/2016

At first glance the 2016-W Mercury Dime coins are very invocative of the classic 1916-D Mercury Dime. The coins will be nearly the exact size of the vintage Mercury Dime and contain 1/10 oz. of .9999 fine (24 karat) gold.

To my complete surprise when walking past the United States Mint booth in Baltimore, Maryland, last week I spotted an example of the new 2016-W Mercury Dime. The only images of the coin I had seen so far have been digitally altered 1916 Mercury Dimes. The pictures were also artificially colored to simulate the gold content. I am amazed at how true to the original design the new version appears. The coins tout the "W" West Point mintmark, and at first glance the coins are very invocative of the classic 1916-D Mercury Dime. Seeing a reimagining of this popular coin so beautifully reproduced was quite the experience. I wanted to buy one then and there!

Click images to enlarge.

Unfortunately, the coins were not on sale during the Baltimore Whitman Expo. The coins will go on sale April 20 on the United States Mint website The announced mintage for the 2016-W Mercury Dime is 125,000 coins with a household limit of 10. That information has not been decided or released as of today. Although this mintage is higher than several recent Mint products, the coins will probably sell out fairly quickly. Buyers should be prepared in advance by setting up your US Mint account with current credit card and shipping information. The US Mint website has been upgraded recently and has received positive reviews for efficiency.

The price for the 2016-W Mercury Dime has not been set at this point. Representatives of the Mint told me the prices would be established on the Wednesday before the coins go on sale based on current gold bullion prices. The coins will be nearly the exact size of the vintage Mercury Dime and contain 1/10 oz. of .9999 fine (24 karat) gold. The Mint currently charges $175 for Proof United States gold eagles of the same size. The 2016-W Mercury Dime will probably sell for about the same price. The lower price points for the initial launch of the Centennial gold series will be a strong attraction for collectors.

Historical Background

The Dime became eligible for a new design in 1916 and a competition was held to determine the artist. The winner was Adolph Weinman (his Walking Liberty Half Dollar design was a winner, as well).

Weinman’s design features Miss Liberty wearing a winged cap, which was mistaken immediately for the Greek god Hermes, or the Roman god Mercury. Mercury was the god of trade and commerce, which might be an appropriate fit for the Dime. The nickname has stuck and the Mercury Head Dime remains one of the most popular of all US coin types.

The central design element on the reverse is a fasces with a large olive branch wrapped around it. The fasces, an ax tied to a bundle of rods, was carried by Roman officials as a symbol of authority. The reverse was also intended to represent America’s military readiness and its desire for peace.

Mercury Head Dimes were produced at the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints. Mintages were huge—a record of more than 231 million dimes was set in 1944. The only low mintage date in the series is the 1916-D Dime, which remains one of the most elusive and desirable coins of the type.

Proof coins were produced from 1936 to 1942, when the demand for military medals became the foremost priority at the Mint. No 1916 Matte Proof Dimes were made, despite the fact that Proof cents and nickels were made that year. Interesting varieties include the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D Overdates and the 1945-S Dime with a microscopic mintmark.

This type is readily available in Gem and Superb Uncirculated condition. 1944 is the most common issue. The most desirable coins are those with Full Split Bands (clearly separated horizontal bands on the fasces).

Many speculate that the new issues will stimulate demand for the vintage silver coins of the series. Mercury Dimes are one of the most popular and widely collected coins of the 20th century. Hopefully anyone who purchases the 2016 gold version will be tempted to explore this interesting series. Later this year the US Mint will issue the next coin in the Centennial series, the 2016-W Standing Liberty Quarter. This will be a fascinating coin to see in the new format. More on that coin when information is available.

Jeff Garrett bio

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