USA Coin Album: The United States Coins Dated 1965 – Part 2

Posted on 7/12/2016

Last month I revealed how the coinage dated 1964 was in production throughout the following year as well.

In the case of the quarter dollar and half dollar, 1964-dated pieces were struck into 1966! All of this unusual activity resulted from the double whammy of a nationwide coin shortage concurrent with the transition from 90% silver dimes, quarters and halves to those made of little or no silver. Coins dated 1965 and 1966 were, in fact, produced, but their striking was delayed. In the case of 1965-dated issues, nearly all were coined during the first seven months of 1966. Starting August 1, all USA coins were dated with the current year of 1966. All 1966-dated coins were thus produced in the last five months of that year. Normal dating didn’t resume until 1967, but the suspension of mintmarks lasted through that year. It was not until 1968 that things settled down to normal, with the return of mintmarks and the U. S. Mint’s Uncirculated and Proof Sets for collectors.

I related how these changes affected the cents and nickels dated 1965 in last month’s column, and this time out I’ll look at the dimes and quarters. The two denominations had silver removed from them entirely, and a three-layer composition of base metals was substituted. Bonded to an inner strip of pure copper were two outer strips of the same 75% copper/25% nickel alloy employed for the five-cent piece since 1866.

The first copper-nickel-clad dimes entered circulation in January of 1966 bearing the 1965 date. Though pleasant enough when new and lustrous, they were poorly struck in most instances, as the new alloy was much more resistant to deformation in the coin press. Both collectors and the public were drawn to the coins’ bright red edges, this being the central copper strip peering out between the alloy layers. After a few months of circulation, however, fascination turned to dismay, as even modest wear caused the coins’ surfaces to become dull and gray, their coppery edges toning to brown just as on any cent.

A mere 6,890,000 1965 dimes had been struck at the Philadelphia Mint in the closing month of that year, and the balance of this issue’s ultimate mintage of 1,652,140,570 pieces actually date from the first seven months of 1966. Philadelphia produced 838,240,000 1965-dated dimes that year, while Denver and San Francisco contributed 757,472,820 and 49,537,750 pieces, respectively. Though a huge number of dies were required for such a large production, 1965 dimes seem to be devoid of noteworthy varieties. There are, however, quite a few accidentally struck on 90% silver planchets, as such coins were still being made during 1965-66.

The quarter dollar was the first of the 1965-dated coins to enter circulation, and large numbers were released starting in November of 1965. These possessed the same positive and negative features as the dimes, but their larger size made their striking weakness all the more evident. The Mint created a new reverse hub with sharper details for the 1965 quarters, and it’s likely that trial strikes had revealed the need for such a measure. Again, with both silver and clad coins being struck simultaneously, the inevitable happened. Not only are there 1965-dated quarters struck on silver planchets, but there are 1964-D silver quarters struck using the modified reverse die intended solely for clad coins. There are a few doubled-die varieties for both the obverse and reverse of 1965 quarters, and these have a good following.

During 1965 the Philadelphia Mint struck 359,828,000 clad quarters and the Denver Mint 101,120,000. During 1966 these coins were made at all three mints, with the following sub-totals: 1965(P), 722,388,000; 1965(D), 572,185,540; 1965(S), 64,196,000. This gave a whopping total for the date of 1,819,717,540 pieces! It’s no wonder that collectors became discouraged with such high numbers and nearly stopped saving rolls of fresh coins. This practice had been widespread from the 1930s through 1964, and it all but died after that time.

In addition to coins produced for general circulation, the San Francisco Assay Office struck dimes and quarters specifically for collectors. These Special Mint Sets were issued for 1965-67 as replacements for the regular Uncirculated Set and the Proof Set, both of which were under suspension during the coin shortage years. The coins in these sets were ersatz proofs, though most of the 1965-dated pieces ranged from satiny in texture to semi-prooflike. All of the 1965-dated SMS coins were struck in the early months of the following year.

Collectors purchased 2,360,000 sets of the 1965 issue, and these were delivered in the same packaging as used for proof sets since 1955. Since the price of each set was $4, as opposed to only $2.10 for the former proof sets, it’s easy to see why sales for subsequent sets declined. At nearly twice the price, and with only one coin including any silver in it, the Special Mint Sets were not viewed as a good value, and their current market prices reflect a considerable loss to inflation. The only saving grace is that a very small number of the SMS dimes and quarters display cameo contrast between fields and devices, and such pieces bring a strong premium when certified as such.

David W. Lange's column, “USA Coin Album,” appears monthly in The Numismatist, the official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.