The dime was the first coin made by the U.S. Mint, even before any Mint building existed. George Washington ordered the first run of dimes, which were made on a borrowed press kept in the owner’s basement.
The first dime produced in a U.S. Mint building was struck in 1796. The earliest ten-cent coins pictured Lady Liberty, either in bust or full profile form. From 1916 to 1945, designers put wings on Liberty’s head, leading people to mistake her for Mercury. (Today these dimes are referred to as Mercury Dimes.) President Roosevelt’s image first appeared on the dime in 1946.
Traditionally dimes were predominately silver, though some early ones were made of copper due to a silver shortage. The Coinage Act of 1965 removed all silver, replacing it with a combination of copper and nickel.
Like other coins, the most valuable dimes are those that have survived the years in mint condition. It’s important to note that mint condition does not mean the coin appears as it did when it was minted. Changes in coloration are normal and even expected; cleaning a coin may actually detract from its value. The dimes that command the most value are not only in excellent condition, but also rare, due to a variety of reasons, including errors in production, small quantities produced or large quantities melted for their silver content.
Two organizations certify coins, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). Both use the Sheldon Scale to assign a numerical rating, from 1 to 70; coins rated 60 or higher are also referred to as “mint” state coins and are considered the most valuable.
Here are 20 of those high-value dimes.