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Mercury Dimes (1916-1945)

Featuring Liberty Whose Winged Cap Is Popularly Associated with the Roman God of Messengers, Mercury

Struck in 90% silver from 1916-1945, collectors appreciate Adolph Weinman's modern design for the 10-cent piece. It hailed the new 20th century even as the U.S. stood at the entry of WWI. For the obverse, Weinman drew Liberty wearing a cap with wings that symbolized freedom, or liberty, of thought. Almost immediately the profile became associated with Mercury, the Roman god of messengers, and the Mercury dime nickname has remained ever since.

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 T. Barber's 1892 design. 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 dime profile faced left, was more streamlined, and the 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 god, and the nickname "Mercury Dime" continues to this day.

On the Mercury Dime's reverse, Weinman designed 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. Each mint mark can be found to the left of the cut end of the branch.

Issuing Mints

The Mercury Dime was struck at three mints: Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. However, in 1923 and 1930, no "D"

Mercury dimes

were ever issued; those found in circulation are counterfeits.

The low-mintage 1916-D Mercury Dimes were initially overlooked by collectors; finding any in Mint State condition today is very rare.

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