Mercury Silver Dime
The Mercury Dime is one of America’s favorite coins – and the foundation of many great collections. It was first issued in 1916, shortly before the United States joined World War I, and it was last made in 1945 at the end of World War II. In between, the United States went from the exuberance of the Roaring Twenties to the depths of the Great Depression. All coins were made in 90% silver.
In 1915, sculptor Adolph A. Weinman was one of three people who was asked by the U.S. Mint to submit designs for the new dime, quarter, and half dollar to replace the Barber coins that had been made since 1892. His designs were selected for both the dime and half dollar.
For the obverse of his dime – which was officially known as the Winged Liberty Head Dime – Weinman included a portrait of Liberty in a winged cap to represent freedom of thought. However, people thought the coin showed Mercury, the mythological messenger of the Roman gods who wore wings on his sandals and cap. As a result, the coin became mistakenly known as the Mercury Dime.
The reverse features a Roman fasces (an ax within a group of rods) and an olive branch to symbolize the power of the government to enforce security as well as to pursue peace. This was a particularly poignant image in 1916 when the coin first appeared, since the U.S. was on the verge of joining World War I.
How to Collect Mercury Dimes
The last Mercury Dime was made over 70 years ago, and today it is more in demand than ever before – both because of its stunning design and for the history it represents. There are almost infinite ways to collect the coins – from a collection of every year of issue to specific dates or mint marks – but collectors over the years are especially interested in certain coins.
For example, the first and last years of issue are the bookends of a Mercury Dime collection, and many collectors consider them to be the most important coins in the series. The first coin was made in 1916 and the last in 1945.
The last 10 years of issue (1936 to 1945) represents a period of great change and importance in American history, including the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the height of the Great Depression, and all of the World War II years.
Mercury Dimes are also key to other collections, such as those that include World War II coins or coins featuring different portraits of Liberty. Best of all, Mercury Dimes are still affordable!