Rare Mercury Dimes: A Collector’s Dream

By | September 12, 2016
1916 Mercury Dime

1916 Mercury Dime

Many collectors focus on US silver dimes of the twentieth century.  Mercury dimes, minted from 1916 to 1945, are an iconic American coin. Most dates were abundantly minted, but there are several rare Mercury dimes. These rare ones command a good price and make collecting a complete series of Mercury dimes a challenge for many. They have a very strong following among collectors which makes them excellent for investing purposes as well.

The Mercury Dime

Mercury Dime Reverse

Mercury Dime Reverse

The Mercury dime, also known as the Winged Liberty Head dime, features the head of Lady Liberty facing left and wearing a winged cap on the obverse.  The image was almost immediately mistaken for an image of the Roman god Mercury, who was often depicted wearing winged shoes or a winged headpiece. The reverse of the coin features the Roman fasces, comprised of an axe tied to a bundle of rods. Fasces were a symbol of authority in ancient Rome. Higher quality Mercury dimes are referred to as “full band” coins, in which the reverse is so well struck that the rods of the fasces are extremely well defined and completely continuous.

 

Rare Mercury Dimes

1916 Mercury Dime

1916 Mercury Dime

The key date in the series is the 1916-D Mercury dime. Only 264,000 of these coins were minted. It is believed that many fewer than that exist today, making this the exceptional Mercury dime for collectors and investors. Because it is the key date in a very popular series of coins, it generally commands a steep price. At the time of this writing, a check of Amazon reveals an AU-58 certified 1916-D Mercury dime asking $12, 700. Even well worn 1916-D dimes in about good condition can fetch a high price, generally over $500. Certified mint condition uncirculated specimens can sell for well over $50,000. Yes, it’s true!

Semi-key dates of the Mercury dime series include the 1921 Mercury dime (1.2 million minted), 1921-D Mercury dime (just under 1.1 million produced), and 1932-D Mercury dime (1.8 million minted). These semi-key dates are also considered rare Mercury dimes. The 1932-D can command over $100 in uncirculated condition. Even lower grades, such as good or very good, will cost several tens of dollars.

 

Error Coins

Worn 1916 Dime

Worn 1916 Dime

There are two rare Mercury dimes that are error coins: the 1942/1 Mercury dime and the 1942/1-D Mercury dime. These errors were created when two obverse dies were impressed with a 1941-dated hub and then a 1942-dated hub. Although technically not needed for a complete set of Mercury dimes, these error coins are in high demand among dime enthusiasts and hence they command a premium price. Both will cost several hundred dollars or more depending upon the quality of the coin.

 

How to buy Rare Mercury Dimes at a Fair Price

Collect Mercury Dimes

Collect Mercury Dimes

Because these rarities are so popular and valuable, many people can end up over paying for these coins. Your best bet is to watch the prices posted for these rarities on a variety of online sites. Be stealthy and observant. Wait for reasonable prices to appear. This will often occur when the overall price of silver is low. In some cases you may wish to propose a counter offer to the posted price and possibly acquire a rare piece at a very good price. Search eBay and Amazon regularly to get a good feel for pricing.

Update April, 2016: Centennial Year for the Merc! This year is the 100th anniversary of the Mercury Dime. Great time to add some to your collection!

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12 thoughts on “Rare Mercury Dimes: A Collector’s Dream

  1. Joe

    This is a very timely article and website for me as I am looking to store some cash reserves in the form of a “hard store” for the longer term.
    I also know that storing physical gold or silver oversees particularly in Singapore is the best way to store it as it keeps these valuables out of reach of creditors including the gov.
    Great info here Mike!

    Reply
    1. Mike

      Thanks Joe. Having a percentage of your assets in physical gold and silver makes sense, especially in uncertain times. Be sure to check out my page on fiat currency for more reasons to own precious metals.

      Reply
  2. Chris

    I’ve always liked the idea of coin collecting after I inherited a great deal of them off a auntie. I must admit I had no real idea of what was valuable and what was not ( mainly British and US coins in the collection ).
    Thanks for this article – will be getting my box out again tonight to check on what exactly I have in my possession 🙂

    Reply
  3. Mike Post author

    Hello Joe,
    Definitely check into your aunt’s coin box. Rarities are present among both British and US coins. You might want to take them into dealer and get them appraised.

    Reply
  4. The Fat Guy

    Hello Mike,

    I never knew the US minted coins in mercury, is it real mercury or is it called that because of the resemblance to the Mythological Greek God Mercury? I am thinking so but I am not sure.

    Have you some of these dimes in your collection?

    The prices for the ones that are in MINT condition are outrageous, are all the ones that have been minted accounted for?

    I love new information about collecting and you have sparked a huge interest for me and I will be on the lookout for such a dime.

    The Fat Guy

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment. Indeed the name derives from the Greek god Mercury. Some of the rare coins in the series do indeed command very high prices because of their rarity. Don’t worry, many Mercury dimes had abundant mintages and are available for much lower price. Check into our preferred broker, Golden Eagle Coins to purchase some. As to finding one still in general circulation, this will be tough. Maybe not impossible but unlikely at this point in time. Mercury dimes were last minted in 1945.

      Reply
  5. Angela

    wonderful website that you have here and you certainly give your readers valuable information. My husband collects coins on a small time basis. He has bought some coins through collectors but we also look over the coins we get on a daily basis, and sometimes we do find older coins. So I was just wondering what would be someone’s chance to come across any of these dimes in receiving small change?

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Hello Angela,

      In the United States, silver dimes for general circulation stopped being minted in 1964. That’s over 50 years ago. Most of these silver coins have been removed from circulation by collectors or the federal government. However, occasionally one still finds some silver in change. Last year I received a Silver Content Nickels for Collectors in change!

      I’m glad that your husband has an active interest in coin collecting. In case he needs a few dates to fill in his collection, check out BGASC Coins.

      Reply
  6. Diana

    You have a very nice site. I love the article on Rare Mercury Dimes. What a great looking coin. Your article was so informative! And eye pleasing as well. I have a question: How do people recognize fake or counterfeit coins. Is this a big problem for collectors and investors? Overall great information!

    Reply
  7. Stanley

    Mike,
    I am a believer of gold and silver physical coins as our currencies are no longer money since 1971 when President Nixon unpegged US dollars from gold. I am not sure whether collectibles of silver and gold can be measured by a certain value as they tend to be much more expensive than a typical gold or silver coin. There is no doubt whether collectibles or not, gold and silver coins will surpass the value of currencies when the “dust” settles down ie majority of the people come to realise that gold and silver are true money while currencies are just paper.

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Thank you Stanley for your insightful comments. Yes, the current form of money used by the world’s countries is called Fiat Currency, and it is not backed by anything tangible or valuable. Investing and gold and silver as a hedge against Fiat Currency makes very good sense.

      Reply

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