Half Dimes and Dimes:
The very first silver coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint were 1792 silver Half Dismes which were reportedly struck from silver donated to the Mint by President George Washington. Only 1,500 of these coins were struck and it is believed that not more than 400 of those coins exist today. It is exceedingly rare and desirable and is considered more of a pattern coin by some experts.
The Half Dime coins were struck beginning in 1794 and were minted until 1873. There are several types of these Half Dimes such as the Flowing Hair, Draped Bust, Capped Bust and the Liberty Seated varieties. While most of these coins are easy to acquire and affordable in Uncirculated grades there are a few coins that are impossible to own. The rarities are led by the 1870-S coin, struck at the San Francisco Mint, which is unique! It is a fascinating series of American coins.
The ten cent coin, called a Dime, was first struck in 1796. The early coins are scarce and desirable but still affordable in higher circulated grades, this includes the Draped Bust and Capped Bust types of coins minted between 1796 and 1837. The later Liberty Seated dimes, which were struck between 1837 and 1891, are available and affordable on most budgets.
In 1892 US Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber designed a dime that became known as the “Barber Dime” and that series is very affordable, except for the extremely rare 1894-S, struck at the San Francisco Mint of which only 24 coins were reportedly struck. By 1916, the renaissance in American coinage had reached the Dime, which was redesigned to display Miss Liberty wearing a winged cap. This coin bore a striking resemblance to the Roman god “Mercury” and the coins were forever after known as Mercury Dimes. They were struck until 1945.
President Franklin Roosevelt died in April of 1945, just a few months prior to the end of World War II. Roosevelt had led America through the Great Depression and through this World War and America rewarded him with four terms in office. His remarkable life was celebrated by the U S Mint by striking a dime with his portrait on the obverse and the torch of freedom on the reverse. It is still struck today with no changes from its original design and is a set of coins that poses very few challenges.