History of the U.S. Dime

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

2011 Roosevelt U.S. Dime

The dime is a U.S. coin worth 10 cents. It is the smallest in diameter and thinnest coin minted for circulation in the U.S. The denomination of the dime was first authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792. The word "dime" comes from the French word dîme, meaning "tithe" or "tenth part," from the Latin decima.

The obverse design of the current dime features the profile of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The reverse design features an olive branch, a torch, and an oak branch. However, the design of the coin has changed frequently over the years. Here are a few notable versions of the dime in history:

1792 "Disme" Dime Obverse & Reverse. The Obverse features profile of woman with long flowing hair. The obverse reads: Liberty Parent of Science and Industry. The reverse features an eagle. It reads United States of America, DismeDisme (1792) - The Coinage Act of 1792 authorized the mintage of a "disme," one-tenth the silver weight and value of a dollar. In 1792, a number of dismes were minted but never put into circulation due to a low demand and production problems at the U.S. Mint.

1797 Draped Bust Dime. The obverse features a profile bust of a woman with draped long hair. It reads Liberty and 1797. The reverse features an eagle and reads: United States of America.Draped Bust (1796-1807)​ - The Draped Bust was the first dime to be minted for circulation, in 1796. The coin was designed by then-Chief Engraver Robert Scot. The obverse side features a portrait of Lady Liberty. The reverse side features an outstretched bald eagle surrounded by palm and olive branches. 

1838 Seated Liberty Dime Obverse and ReverseSeated Liberty (1837-1891) - The Seated Liberty was designed by Christian Gobrecht. The obverse side features Lady Liberty sitting on a rock, while holding a staff with a liberty cap on top. Her right hand is holding a shield with the inscription "LIBERTY." The reverse side features the inscription "ONE DIME" surrounded by a wreath. 

1936 Mercury DimeWinged Liberty Head ("Mercury") 1916-1945 - The Winged Liberty Head is commonly referred to as the "Mercury" dime, though it does not depict the Roman messenger God. The obverse side features the Roman goddess Liberty wearing a Phrygian cap, a Western symbol of liberty, with its wings meant to symbolize freedom of thought. The reverse design features a fasces juxtaposed with an olive branch, symbolizing America's willingness for war and desire for peace.

2011 Roosevelt U.S. DimeFranklin D. Roosevelt (1946-present) - Shortly after his death in 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was chosen to feature on the new dime. He was chosen in part for his efforts in founding the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which originally raised money for polio research and to aid victims and their families. The obverse design features the profile of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The reverse side features a torch, olive branch, and oak branch, symbolizing, respectively, liberty, peace, and strength.


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