This coin’s predecessor, the Liberty Seated Dime, had a very long run of 55 years so by 1891, Congress approved new designs for the Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar. The Chief Engraver of the US Mint, at that time, Charles E. Barber, prepared some new designs. The consensus was that Barber’s designs had numerous elements of current US coinage in them.
The obverse of Barber’s Dime differed from that of his Quarter and Half Dollar designs, which were exactly the same, except for their size and denomination. His design featured a bust of Miss Liberty, facing right, wearing Phrygian cap and olive wreath, with “LIBERTY” on the headband and with the date below her and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” around her. The reverse was simplicity itself. The words ONE DIME centered and one word on each line, inside of a wreath.
Actual minting of these coins began on January 2, 1892, and all three denominations were coined during that first day of minting to see how the design would fare and strike in each size. Between 1892 and 1893 millions of coins were struck at all 3 operating mints at that time – Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. But in 1894, while it was business as usual in striking coins, the San Francisco Mint only struck 24 dimes bearing the 1894 date and the “S” mintmark. This unintentionally created an extreme rarity in US coins. While no definitive records from the Mint at San Francisco exist today, it is believed that the Mint needed to coin $2.40 in Dimes to use up the available worn silver redeemed at that facility.
Of the 24 coins supposedly struck, only 9 are currently known to exist. Do the remaining 15 coins actually exist? Today, any of those 9 coins, regardless of condition have brought several hundred thousand to 2 million dollars each so any of these 1894-S Barber Dimes would be an incredibly rare find.