Draped Bust Dime
The first Dimes ever struck by the United States Mint were Draped Bust Dimes. Even as some of the very first US coins ever minted, there were still two distinct varieties – the Small Eagle reverse which was minted in 1796 and 1797 and the Heraldic Eagle reverse which was minted in 1798 through 1807. Robert Scot, the first Chief Engraver at the US Mint designed these coins, and the Small Eagle design was disliked by the public. The eagle on the reverse was called “scrawny” and the public opinion was that it did not represent our country well, especially when one compares our small eagle to the larger and more majestic birds on coins of Europe.
The obverse depicted an allegorical depiction of Miss Liberty with her hair tied with ribbons, facing right. On the upper periphery was the motto “LIBERTY” with 8 stars to the left of the motto and 7 stars to the right. Below Liberty was the date of the coin. The reverse depicted the eagle, surrounded by a wreath, tied with a bow. Around the coin was “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”
By early 1798, Robert Scot was asked to redesign the reverse. He created a more regal eagle, with a shield on his breast, arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other – ready for war or peace.
The mintages of these first dimes only once exceeded 30,000 coins struck annually between 1796 and 1804. Both the 1805 and 1807 coins had mintages of 120,780 and 165,000 respectively, but ALL Draped Bust Dimes are scarce coins and a reminder of our fledgling nation’s early coinage efforts.