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IN Mercury Dimes

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Mercury Dimes

Mercury Dimes

Key Features

  • Contains 0.0723 oz of .900 fine silver
  • Struck from 1916 to 1945
  • Designed by Adolph A. Weinman
  • Obverse depicts Liberty wearing a winged cap
  • Reverse features a Roman fasces and an olive branch

Commonly known as the Winged Liberty Head Dime, the Mercury Dime is considered by many to be the most beautiful United States coin ever minted.

Designed by skilled sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, the silver Mercury Dime is a truly remarkable coin that brings joy to the eyes. Despite being so beautiful, the coin (and its designer) was criticized when first released in 1916, with some people saying that the obverse image of Liberty looked more like the Roman god Mercury.

The obverse of the Mercury Dime features the head of Lady Liberty, facing left. Her hair is hidden under a winged cap and, according to Weinman, is meant to symbolize “Liberty of thought.” She is accompanied by the inscription LIBERTY above and IN GOD WE TRUST to the left. The date is situated below the back part of Liberty’s neck, with Weinman’s initials above and to the right. On the reverse are Roman fasces and an olive branch, as well as the engraving E PLURIBUS UNUM. Other reverse markings include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DIME.

It is the winged cap on the obverse that made many people believe the image was of Roman god Mercury, rather than Liberty. The fasces on the reverse probably had something to do with the confusion as well. This aside, most people embraced the coin and viewed the Greek/Roman inspired design as a symbol of freedom and thought.

Design History

By law, the United States Mint couldn’t replace a coin design unless it had been used for a minimum of 25 years. When the Barber coinage reached its 25 year mark in 1916, the Mint and Treasury immediately made plans to redesign the Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar. Robert W. Woolley was the mint director in 1916 and, unlike the Barber coinage that was circulating, he wanted each of the denominations to feature unique designs. To make this happen, he invited three renowned sculptors from New York to prepare designs for each of the coins.

The artists were Hermon A. MacNeil, Albin Polasek and Adolph A. Weinman, all of which had their own vision for the pieces. However, while it was Woolley’s intent to award a different denomination to each sculptor, Polasek’s designs were not chosen for any of the three coins. MacNeil got the Quarter (Standing Liberty Quarter) and Weinman got the Half Dollar (Walking Liberty Half Dollar), as well as the Dime, now known as the beautiful Mercury Dime.

While no one knows for certain, it is believed that Weinman’s Liberty portrait is based on a bust he sculpted in 1913 of Elsie Kachel Stevens, wife of poet Wallace Stevens. The Stevens’ rented a Manhattan apartment from Weinman between 1909 and 1916 when Wallace was working as a lawyer. Weinman refused to reveal the identity of his model but he did tell Woolley that it was the wife of a lawyer who was living in one of his properties. Woolley leaked this information after the Mercury Dime was released, leading everyone to think that Elsie Kachel Stevens was Weinman’s Liberty.

Weinman was born in Germany and had resided in the United States since the age of 10. He had previously been a student at the Arts Students League of New York and studied under Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Hailed as one of America’s most gifted sculptors by 1915, Weinman’s Mercury Dime and Walking Liberty Half Dollar became two of his most famous and celebrated pieces of work.

Rare Mercury Dime Dates

The Mercury Dime was struck every year from 1916 to 1945, with the exception of 1922. As the Denver Mint was ordered to only strike Quarters for the majority of 1916 and the Mercury Dime dies were not finished and ready for use until later in the year, only 264,000 1916-D coins were made. The 1916-D is the key date in the series and the only Mercury Dime with a mintage below one million. The 1921 and 1921-D issues are also hard to find.

Another rare Mercury Dime is the 1942/1 overdate coin, where 1942 had to be stamped over a 1941 die. In fact, there are two rare 1942/1 coins from the series because the overdate Mercury Dimes were struck at the mints of Philadelphia and Denver. We should also mention that many Mercury Dimes display striking defects on the reverse and show broken lines separating the bands around the fasces. As a result, the coins with perfectly struck lines are worth considerably more than those with missing sections.

We Offer an Impressive Variety of Mercury Dimes

Composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper, the Mercury Dime served the nation during World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. Even when Mint director Nellie Ross wanted to replace Weinman’s design with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin in 1938, the Mercury Dime prevailed and remained in the U.S. coinage system. It boasted so much staying power, the Mercury Dime could still be found in circulation during the late 1960s.

Whether you’re looking to acquire only a rare date or rolls and bags, Capital Gold Group offers you a fabulous selection of genuine Mercury Dimes. We check each of our products for authenticity and can even supply you with certified and graded specimens. If you have any questions or would like more information about making a purchase, please feel free to contact our team of rare coin experts.

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