In the mid-1800’s, mint director Robert Maskell Patterson asked his chief engraver, William Kneass to prepare new designs for the nations silver coinage. As Patterson had always liked the Britannia image used on British coinage, he instructed Kneass to come up with something similar for the obverse side of the coins.
A while after Kneass began sketching the Seated Liberty design, he suffered a stroke and was unable to complete the work he had started, so Patterson turned to artist Thomas Sully for help. Sully came up with further drawings and engraver Christian Gobrecht prepared dies based on those sketches. The design was first used on the Dollar in 1836 and later appeared on the Dime in 1837.
On the obverse of the Liberty Seated Dime is Lady Liberty seated on a rock holding a pole topped with a cap. She is holding the Union Shield inscribed LIBERTY in her other, with her head facing left and the date displayed below. The reverse features the text ONE DIME encircled by a wreath. Surrounding the wreath is the engraving UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Not only did the Liberty Seated Dime experience a number of design alterations over the years but also two weight changes. The coin was struck for the final time in 1891 and was followed by the famous Barber Dime.
As just mentioned, many design modifications were made to the Liberty Seated Dime, with the first occurring in 1838. Stars were added around Liberty on the obverse, but this new design featured only on the coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint. All of the 1838-dated Liberty Seated Dimes that were produced at the New Orleans Mint have the same obverse (without stars) as the 1837 coins. This is because the 1838 dies were sent to New Orleans before the design change was authorized. It wasn’t until 1839 when the New Orleans Mint struck the coins with the stars. In 1860, the stars were removed from the Dime and replaced with the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Another major design change occurred just fifteen years after the first as a result of the Act of February 21, 1853, which required all fractional silver coins to be reduced by 6.9%. To identify the lower weight Dimes, arrowheads were placed on each side of the date on the obverse. The arrows remained on the coins until 1855. Liberty Seated Dimes with arrows were struck at the Philadelphia Mint all three years and at the mints in New Orleans and Carson City in 1853 and 1854.
As the stars that were first added to the Dime in 1838 were situated opposite UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on the reverse, some imperfections were caused during striking and the stars were removed from the obverse in 1860. Also, the reverse inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was switched to the obverse and a wreath of cereals was added to the reverse. These design changes remained on the Liberty Seated Dime throughout the rest of the series.
One final major design change occurred in 1873 when arrowheads were once again added on each side of the date on the obverse. These arrows were placed on the Liberty Seated Dime for two years to signify a small increase in the coin’s weight.
The New Orleans 1853-O Liberty Seated Dime with arrows is one of the rarest of the series, as are the 1854 and 1855 proof coins. Another noteworthy rarity is the 1860-O, which has a low mintage and is extremely difficult to find in uncirculated condition. Philadelphia Mint Dimes produced between 1863 and 1869 are very scarce and rare in mint state. Dimes struck at the Carson City Mint dated 1871 to 1874 are also rare, with the 1873-CC without arrows being one of the rarest coins in the world today. The proof arrow dimes minted from 1873 to 1874 are hard to come by as well.
Struck at the mints of Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (S), New Orleans (O) and Carson City (CC), the Liberty Seated Dime is always in demand. As there are many varieties in the series, collectors and investors choose to acquire specimens by type, mint or even grade. There are also plenty of rarities in the series and, while not impossible, excellent examples are tough to locate.
If you’re looking to get hold of genuine Liberty Seated Dimes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Capital Gold Group today. We can source any variety or date of your interest to help you enhance your current collection or portfolio. Simply call our coin experts or head on over to our Contact page and send us a message via our online form.