Franklin Roosevelt’s portrait on the dime was a fitting choice in 1946. He was a revered figure for many of the “Greatest Generation”, those who lived through the 1930s Great Depression and prevailed in World War II. Though his Administrations were not without criticism (numismatists might lament his 1933 Executive Order that mandated the recall and melting of countless gold coins), he nonetheless enjoyed great popularity both in this country and abroad, and was the nation’s only four-term president. After Roosevelt died in office, national sympathy gave impetus to honoring him on a circulating coin.
It is commonly accepted that Roosevelt had been afflicted by polio (though that diagnosis has been called into question by recent research). Because the March of Dimes, which funded polio care and research, started during Roosevelt’s first term in office, matching the dime to Roosevelt seemed a logical fit. Silver dimes were produced from 1946 through 1964. The continual rise in the price of silver bullion in the early 1960s caused the Mint to replace the silver in all circulating coins with a copper-nickel clad composition, effective with 1965-dated coins. It is ironic that in 1933 Roosevelt by fiat effectively removed gold from the channels of commerce, and in 1965 laissez-faire commerce removed silver from the coin that honors him.
Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries
A left-facing profile of Roosevelt occupies most of the obverse space. Inside the smooth rim in front of Roosevelt’s face is the word LIBERTY. IN GOD WE TRUST in smaller letters is positioned below the chin. The date is squeezed into the space inside the rim and beneath the neck truncation, to the right of the designer’s initials JS, which are just below and oriented parallel to the edge of the neckline.
Completely encircling inside the reverse smooth rim are the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and (slightly larger letters) ONE DIME, the two phrases separated by centered dots. In the center is a flaming torch, flanked by an olive branch to the left and an oak branch to the right. Forming a horizontal line through the base of the torch and both branches is a partitioned E PLURIBUS UNUM, with centering dots separating the three Latin words.
Business strike Roosevelt dimes have been minted at Philadelphia every year starting with 1965, and at Denver every year since 1968. San Francisco has produced clad proofs since 1968, and both clad and silver proofs since 1992. No proofs were minted in 1965, 1966, and 1967, though Special Mint Sets with those dates were produced. The coins for these Sets were specially prepared, but consensus is that they are not up to proof coin standards. Dimes from 1965 through 1967 display no mintmark; Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) mintmarks from 1968 forward are placed on the obverse above the final digit of the date. Philadelphia dimes since 1980 have carried a P mintmark, and a W-mintmarked dime (for the West Point Mint) was issued in 1996. The P and W mintmarks also appear above the last date digit.
Nearly all clad Roosevelt dimes are affordable. Circulation strikes with FB designation (Full Bands, the bands on the torch) and Cameo/ Deep Cameo Special Mint Set coins from 1965 through 1967 are priced two to ten (or more) times higher than coins without those distinctions. Coins with additional price premiums are the No Mintmark issues: the 1982 circulation strike, and the 1968, 1970, and 1983 proofs. All have moderate to strong price premiums, with the 1968 No S proof extremely expensive. Prooflike circulation strikes are also listed in census/ population reports.
Designer: John R. Sinnock
Circulation Mintage:Ongoing series, with total annual production ranging from several hundred million to several billion coins
Proof Mintage: ongoing series, with total annual production ranging from several hundred thousand to several million coins
Proof Mintage: 3,950,762 (1964), low 51,386 (1950)
Denomintion: $0.10, Ten cents (10/100)
Diameter: ±17.9 mm; reeded edge
Metal content: Outer layer of 75% copper and 25% nickel bonded to a 100% copper core
Weight: ±2.27 grams
Varieties:A few double-die and other punching varieties are known, mostly on coins minted before the early 1980s. Additional varieties include 1968, 1970, and 1983 San Francisco proof coins without an S mintmark; 1982 Philadelphia circulation strikes with no P mintmark; satin finish 21st century circulation strikes; and rare 1965-dated coins minted on the older silver planchets.
Additional Resources :
Coin Encyclopedia: www.ngccoin.com
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.
Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Walter Breen. Doubleday.