Dimes – Liberty Seated Dime, Stars, No Drapery, 1838-1840
Though the No Stars dime was a more faithful rendition of the cameo-like Liberty Seated design as implemented by Christian Gobrecht, objections were voiced about the “missing” stars. William Kneass had included 13 small stars to the sides of Liberty on the previous Capped Bust style, but Gobrecht did not include them on the Liberty Seated dimes produced at Philadelphia in 1837 and at New Orleans in 1838. These first Liberty Seated dimes and half dimes were in effect miniature renditions of the design Gobrecht had used for the 1836 Liberty Seated dollars, which showed only Liberty and the date on an otherwise blank obverse field.
Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries
To conform to Mint policy of having standard designs on coins made from the same metal, stars were added to the obverse of quarters, dimes, and half dimes in 1838; but not to the 1838 New Orleans dime because dies without stars had been made prior to Mint Director Robert M. Patterson’s standardization order. Dimes with Stars produced for the first three years did however have another design distinction, apparent only in comparison to issues produced from later 1840 forward. Robert Ball Hughes, a sculptor originally from London, was hired in late 1840 to make modifications to Liberty on the Seated design. Along with other changes, Hughes added extra drapery that extended from Liberty’s left elbow down over her knee. This earlier Stars type does not have that drapery, nor Hughes’ other changes, but the lack of drapery has become the identifier of the type.
On the obverse a full-length representation of Liberty wears long, flowing robes and is seated on a rock, head turned back to her right. Her left arm is bent and holds a pole topped by a Liberty cap. The right arm extends down at her side, hand supporting a Union shield across which is a curved banner displaying LIBERTY. The date is centered at the bottom, below the rock upon which Liberty rests. Inside dentils along the raised rim 13 stars form a partial circle, seven to the left of Liberty, one between Liberty’s head and the Liberty cap, and five to the right of the cap.
The reverse has a concentric circle formed by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA inside the dentilled rim, broken at the bottom by the ribbon that ties the ends of two branches. The branches form another circle inside the text, though the ends are slightly separated at the top, and in the center is the denomination of ONE DIME, each word on a separate line. Stars, No Drapery dimes were produced at Philadelphia and New Orleans; the O mintmark is located below DIME and above the bows of the ribbon.
Census/ population reports show a few hundred Stars, No Drapery business strike dimes, including many Gem and finer examples. There are fewer Small Stars variety certifications than there are varieties with Large Stars, and fewer still with the Partial Drapery variation. New Orleans examples are also not as common as Philadelphia issues. Prices are modest for all dates to Select Uncirculated, increasing to expensive as Gem and finer. Both O-mintmarked dates of the type are more expensive than Philadelphia issues, with the 1840-O expensive as MS60 and finer, very expensive as Gem. Proof examples of the Stars, No Drapery dime are extremely rare, though a few Cameo/ Specimen examples have been certified. All proofs are very expensive, particularly as near-Gem and finer.
Designer: Christian Gobrecht, from a Titian Peale/ Thomas Sully sketches.
Circulation Mintage: high 1,992,500 (1838), low 981,500 (1840)
Proof Mintage: high 5 (each year 1838, 1839, 1840, estimated)
Denomination: Ten cents (10/100)
Diameter: 17.9 mm; reeded edge
Metal Content: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 2.67 grams
Varieties: Several, including 1838 Large Stars, Small Stars, and Partial Drapery, plus other minor die variations.
Coin Encyclopedia: www.ngccoin.com
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