Struck in 90% silver from 1916-1945, Mercury dimes are appreciated by collectors for Adolph A. Weinman's blend of modern and classical designs for the 10-cent piece. Mercury dimes hailed the new 20th century even as the U.S. stood at the entry of WWI.
For the obverse, Weinman depicted Liberty wearing a winged cap to symbolize freedom, or liberty, of thought. However, almost immediately the profile became associated with Mercury, the Roman god of messengers, and the Mercury dime nickname has remained ever since. You'll find a wide selection of Mercury dimes for sale at Littleton Coin, including single coins and sets spanning the beloved 30-year series. So you can start or complete your silver Mercury dime collection today!
Mercury Dimes: First Dime Design For The 20th Century
The Act of September 26, 1890, allowed for new coin designs after 25 years, including dimes . It set the stage for a 20th century motif to replace Charles E. Barber's 1892 Liberty Head design (also called the Barber dime). Barber had drawn the right-facing profile wearing a freedom cap, surrounded by a laurel wreath and the word liberty stamped on the headband.
By contrast, Adolph Weinman's classical and more streamlined dime profile faced left, and Liberty's winged, close-fitting cap resembled a woman's cloche (a bell-shaped hat of the period). His initials, AW, can be found to the right of the neck. Once the dime began to circulate, the public made a visual connection to the Roman messenger god, and the nickname "Mercury Dime" continues to this day.
The reverse side of Weinman's silver Mercury dimes features a Roman fasces – a battle ax bound within a group of rods – to symbolize strength and unity. It is surrounded by a semi-circular olive branch, with the mint mark found to the left of the cut end of the branch.
Mercury dimes were struck at three mints: Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. However, in 1923 and 1930, no "D" Mercury dimes were issued – coins bearing those date and mint mark combinations are counterfeits.
The low-mintage 1916-D Mercury Dimes were initially overlooked by collectors. As a result, finding these silver Mercury dimes in Mint State condition today is very rare.