Arguably, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a popular President. His death in April of 1945 shook the nation as he led the country through the Great Depression and through most of World War II. When he died, there was very strong sentiment to honor his memory. The public wanted FDR’s likeness placed on our coinage. Roosevelt had a strong connect to the March of Dimes organization which combatted polio in children. So, the dime was a natural idea and since the same design was used from 1916 to 1945, it required no Congressional approval.
Chief Engraver of the US Mint, John R. Sinnock was selected to create the designs and he began working at it shortly after Roosevelt’s death in April. The obverse of the dime depicts the head of President Roosevelt facing left, the word “LIBERTY” above him and to the left. The date is below and to the right of his bust and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” is below and to the left. Sinnock’s initials appear below the bust as well.
The reverse has a torch in the center, flanks by an olive branch and an oak branch. The denomination “ONE DIME” is below and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is above. The motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is behind the torch and branches.
The first Roosevelt dimes were struck on January 19, 1946, at the Philadelphia Mint and they were, not coincidentally, released into circulation on January 30, which would have been FDR’s 64th birthday. The coins dated and struck between 1946 and 1964 were comprised of .900 Silver and .100 Copper. The Coinage Act of 1965 changed all of that forever. The Mint began striking coins that were called “clad coinage.” Clad coins are coins utilizing a pure copper core sandwiched between two copper nickel ends.
Mintages of Silver Roosevelt Dimes (1946 to 1964) generally run in the tens to hundreds of millions of coins. These coins in circulated grades are worth their bullion value as each coin has .07234 of a Troy Ounce of Pure Silver.
Clad coins from 1965 to present are generally only worth face value but there are two exceptions – the 1982 No Mintmark with a Strong Strike and the 1982 No Mintmark with the Weak Strike. Virtually all other dates and mintmarks are still readily available in circulation.