John Reich’s Capped Bust Liberty was first used on half dollars and half eagles, quarter eagles and quarter dollars, and half dimes. When Capped Bust dimes were produced, Mexican and Spanish coins were legal tender, the familiar and preferred small denomination silver coins. The two-reales coin (“two bits”) was roughly equivalent to the U.S. quarter, and the Spanish silver real was equal to 12 1/2 cents. Relatively few dimes were produced from 1809 through 1828 (bullion depositors didn’t often request the denomination), and the silver real was more common. The federal dimes that were released into circulation appear to have been well used, but only in 1821 and 1827 did production of dimes exceed one million coins; none were minted in 1810, 1812, 1813, 1815 through 1819, and 1826. The stars and dates of Large Size dimes were individually hand punched, and the coins were produced without a collar to restrain outward expansion during striking. Though larger than the subsequent Small Size Capped Bust dimes, the finished dimes were of varying size and have been listed in reference works as having diameters ranging from 18.8 mm to 19 mm.
Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries
Born in Bavaria, John Reich came to the United States as an indentured laborer. His freedom was purchased by an unidentified Mint officer, though it was not until 1807 that Mint Director Robert Patterson offered Reich a permanent position as second engraver. Some believe this delay in formally recognizing Reich’s talents was due in part to preceding Mint Director Elias Boudinot’s reluctance to offend aging Chief Engraver Robert Scot (Scot was to die in 1823). Reich worked from 1807 through 1817, and began working on Capped Bust coins immediately after being hired. Some attribute his relatively short tenure to the political situation in which he found himself: he was doing the work of the Chief Engraver, but did not receive either the credit or the compensation for that superior position.
The obverse features a matronly Liberty, facing left and wearing a mobcap bound at the base with a ribbon. The ribbon displays LIBERTY and is tied at the back. Liberty has long curling hair that peeks from under the cap at the front and sides, and cascades down the back. A loosely draped garment lies across the bust and shoulder, secured with a small clasp above the shoulder. Thirteen six-point stars are to the sides of Liberty, seven to the left and six to the right, and the stars form a circle inside a broadly dentilled rim. The date is at the bottom.
The reverse shows a centered left-facing eagle, with extended but partly folded wings. The eagle clutches an olive branch in the right claw and three arrows in the left. A shield is placed over the chest. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA forms a concentric arc to the inside of the top two-thirds of the dentilled rim, with the denomination of 10 C. at the bottom visually completing the circle. A simply curved banner, folded ends to the back, displays E PLURIBUS UNUM. All coins were minted at Philadelphia and display no mintmark.
Several hundred business strike Capped Bust Large Size dimes have been certified, including a few prooflike pieces. Prices are moderate for coins at grades up to Select Uncirculated, expensive as near-Gem and finer. The key 1882 dime is expensive at all grades finer than Good. Other issues at higher prices are the 1809, 1811/9, and 1814 STATESOFAMERICA, with prices increasing as Select Uncirculated and finer. Very few proof coins have been certified, including at least one with the Cameo designation. All are expensive, rising to very expensive as Select proof and finer.
Designer: John Reich
Circulation Mintage: high 1,215,000 (1827), low 51,065 (1809)
Proof Mintage: high 10 (1827-1828, estimated), low 5 (1820-1825, estimated). Some consider these “proof” coins to be presentation pieces.
Denomintion: $0.10 Ten cents Dime (10/100)
Diameter: ±18.8 mm; reeded edge
Metal content: 89.24% silver, 10.76% copper
Weight: ±2.7 grams
Varieties: Several known including 1811/9 (all 1811 examples); 1814 and 1821 Small Date and Large Date; 1814 and 1820 STATESOFAMERICA (no spaces between the words); 1823/2 (all 1823 examples) and Small E and Large E; 1824/2 (all 1824 examples); 1828 Large Date, Curl Base 2; and other minor die variations..
Additional Resources :
Coin Encyclopedia: www.ngccoin.com
Early United States Dimes 1796-1837. Russell Logan, John McCloskey, et al. John Reich Collectors Society.
The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. R.S Yeoman (author), Kenneth Bressett (editor). Whitman Publishing.
A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Q. David Bowers. Whitman Publishing.
United States Coinage: A Study by Type. Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett. Whitman Publishing.
The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Q. David Bowers. Whitman Publishing.
The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Don Taxay. Arco Publishing
Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Walter Breen. Doubleday.