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HomeUS Coins1860 Liberty Seated Dime : A Collector's Guide

1860 Liberty Seated Dime : A Collector’s Guide

1860 Liberty Seated Dime. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1860 Liberty Seated Dime. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The Liberty Seated (or Seated Liberty) Dime debuted in 1837 and underwent several design modifications throughout its 54-year run. In 1837, United States Mint engraver (and soon-to-be Chief Engraver) Christian Gobrecht’s design debuted with a fairly clean yet simple obverse that featured a seated Lady Liberty accompanied only by the date in the exergue. Midway through the 1838 production cycle, 13 stars (in a 7-1-5 configuration) were added to the obverse.

In 1840, the obverse design was modified slightly to add flowing drapery behind Liberty’s raised left arm. The outline of the cloth covering the pedestal to the left of the shield was also adjusted. This type was put on a short hiatus from 1853 to 1855, as the Mint was forced to lower the coin’s weight from 2.67 to 2.48 grams to compensate for the rise in silver prices. Arrowheads pointing away from the date denote this type.

Liberty Seated Dime obverse styles. Image: CoinWeek / Stack's Bowers.
Liberty Seated Dime obverse styles. Image: CoinWeek / Heritage Auctions / Stack’s Bowers.

In 1856, the Mint removed the arrows. However, the new tenor of 2.48 grams remained.

In the middle of the 1860 production cycle, the U.S. Mint adjusted the coin’s design by removing the stars and replacing them with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. This design stayed unaltered until 1873, when the Mint once again altered the weight of the dime, this time raising it from 2.48 to 2.5 grams. For two years, the arrowheads returned. This 2.5-gram weight would remain the standard for the dime until 1965 when the metallic composition of the denomination changed from 90% silver to copper-nickel clad. Today’s dime weighs 2.27 grams and has no precious metal content.

Throughout its production life, the Liberty Seated Dime was struck at mints in Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The series has several rare issues, including the conditionally rare 1843-O and 1859-S; and the 1873-CC (possibly unique) and the 1874-CC, both of which sell for over $100,000 each in Mint State.

The 1860 Seated Liberty Dime in Focus

Liberty Seated Dime specialists have a much clearer picture of the coin’s production history thanks to numismatic researcher R.W. Julian, whose in-depth overview of the Philadelphia Mint’s dime output in the 1860s was first published in the June 1964 Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine. Julian’s figures were more in-depth than those published in the annual Mint Director’s Report and compiled from Mint records at the National Archives in Washington, D.C..

Julian accounts for a total mintage of 607,000 dimes struck at Philadelphia, with the business strike output executed over 13 days interspersed throughout the year. This total dwarfs the 140,000 pieces struck at San Francisco (with the obverse Type of 1840) and the paltry 40,000 coin emission of New Orleans (the With Legend obverse of 1860). As a result, without accounting for the more than one dozen published varieties for the date, the 1860 Philadelphia issue is abundant enough in most collectible grades to be considered a Type Coin. The S-Mint, by contrast, is scarce in all grades, and the O-Mint issue is one of the series’ semi-key issues.

The Philadelphia Mint struck its first dimes of 1860 on January 17. On that day, the Mint reports an emission of 60,000 pieces. 576,000 of the year’s total mintage was struck before the fiscal year expired at the end of June. In July, the denomination saw a modest emission of 36,000 pieces and nothing until October 4. Two production days in October and two in December wrap up the story of the 1860 dime.

What Is the 1860 Liberty Seated Dime Worth?

As a representative example of the “With Legend” type, the 1860 Liberty Seated Dime carries a collector value ranging from $25 for a problem-free, low-grade example to about $160 for a typical example in About Uncirculated condition. Given the degree to which many classic coins are mishandled or inaccurately represented for sale, it is highly suggested that one buy only certified examples of the issue in all Mint State grades – or buy raw examples only from reputable dealers specializing in classic U.S. coins. Better yet, buy from reputable dealers specializing in this particular series if you want to dive deeply into the Liberty Seated Dime series.

1860 10 cents NGC MS65 CAC
This naturally-toned example is graded MS65 by NGC and stickered by CAC. It is available for sale from dealer Russ Augustin at his website www.aucm.com.

Recent auction results for Mint State examples are mixed. Choice Uncirculated examples in MS63 and MS64 have seen modest gains in the past few years, while public sales records of examples in MS65 and MS66 have seen price declines over the same period. The 1860 Liberty Seated Dime is conditionally scarce in MS66 and rare in grades above.

CoinWeek finds that the current market value for an MS63 is between $430 and $460 USD. That value jumps $200, for example, in MS64 and MS65. The 1860 dime seldom trades in the conditionally scarce grade of MS66. As of late May 2024, two examples sold by Heritage Auctions within the past 18 months have brought $1,058 and $1,175, respectively.

CAC has certified 31 pieces in all grades, with six MS66 and two MS67 examples accounted for in its census. One of the CAC MS67 pieces is a gorgeous, nearly fully brilliant example currently serving as the PCGS Coinfacts plate coin. This example, graded MS67+, appears to be an F-107 variety that uses Obverse 7 paired with Reverse G. A scraggy die crack running across the base of the ribbon on the reverse serves as an easy diagnostic for the variety.

In total, 12 obverses were paired with 12 reverses for this issue, with the rarest variety (the F-111) exhibiting a prominent die cud at 10 o’clock on the obverse. For more information on die varieties for the 1860 dime, check out coin dealer Gerry Fortin’s excellent online reference.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS68 (1, 5/2024), NGC MS67 (3, 5/2024), and CAC MS67 (5/2024).

  • PCGS MS68 #09931222: As Superb Brilliant Uncirculated. Stack’s, March 7, 2006, Lot 4272 – $27,600. As PCGS MS68 #09931222. “The Bender Family Collection, Part III,” Heritage Auctions, February 9, 2023, Lot 3649 – $44,400. F-101a. Bender Collection on insert. Plate coin for this coin profile. Creamy centers with antiqued rainbow toning around the rims. Frosted devices. Finest known.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #06666873: “The Bob R. Simpson Collection of Seated Dimes,” Heritage Auctions, September 23, 2010, Lot 3660 – $11,500. Simpson in insert. Light champagne hue. Tiny copper spot under U of UNITED. Tiny tick between head and hand. Three tiny carbon stpots above O of ONE (reverse). Fortin-107.
  • NGC MS67 #6329481-002: As NGC MS67 #1744544-009. Heritage Auctions, May 2005, Lot 6473 – $2,990; Heritage Auctions, March 2010, Lot 607 – $2,990. As NGC MS67 #2009222-006. Heritage Auctions, February 2012, Lot 3339 – $2,990. As NGC MS67 #2103898-001. Heritage Auctions, June 2013, Lot 3198 – $3,055; Goldberg Auctioneers, June 2015, Lot 1130; Stack’s Bowers, August 2016, Lot 162 – $2,820; Heritage Auctions, August 26, 2022, Lot 4397 – $3,600. As NGC MS67 #6329481-002. Heritage Auctions, July 21, 2023, Lot 3470 – $2,880. RARCOA green label. F-106. DDO. Three ticks between head and cap, touching hair. Tick below first S of STATES. Latte brown hue. Carbon spot touching D. Rim disturbance at 12 o’clock on the reverse.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #6589560: Joseph O’Connor to Eugene H. Garnder, by sale, April 2008; “The Eugene H. Gardner Collection, Part III,” Heritage Auctions, May 12, 2015, Lot 98236 – $11,162.50. Fortin-102. Date to the right and sloping upwards. All over toning in gold, green, and rose. Streaky cream color through ONE DIME.
  • PCGS MS66+ CAC #2569466: Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2016, Lot 3738 – $2,585. F-112. Goldenrod toning with blue accents along the rim.

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Design

Obverse:

The obverse features a sitting depiction of the personification of Liberty holding a Liberty pole in her left hand as she looks behind her over her right shoulder. At the top of the pole is a Phrygian cap, a classic symbol of emancipation. Her right arm and hand cradle a Union shield, which features a ribbon with the word LIBERTY running from the upper left to the lower right. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA wraps around the top of the obverse from left to right. The date 1860 sits below Liberty. Denticles surround the rim.

Reverse:

The denomination ONE DIME in the middle, with a closed wreath of wheat surrounding it. Denticles surround the rim.

Edge:

The edge of the 1860 Liberty Seated Dime is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1860
Denomination: One Dime (10 Cents USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 607,000
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 2.48 g
Diameter: 17.90 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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