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HomeUS Coins1949-S Roosevelt Dime : A Collector's Guide

1949-S Roosevelt Dime : A Collector’s Guide

1949-S Roosevelt Dime. Image: Heritage Auctions.
1949-S Roosevelt Dime. Image: Heritage Auctions.

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

As one of the key dates of the Roosevelt silver dime series, the 1949-S Roosevelt dime is second in rarity only to the Philadelphia Mint’s 1955 mintage of 12,450,181 pieces.

However, with the issuance of 13,510,000 pieces, this coin is not exactly “rare”. However, it is one of the more interesting pieces from the series and commands something of a premium over the other, more common, years.

The late 1940s and early ’50s saw significant fluctuations in dimes struck at the San Francisco Mint. The facility’s 1949 mintage was only 38% of the previous year (1948) and 66% of the following year (1950). This was due to a short but serious economic recession lasting from November 1948 until October 1949, which resulted in a high unemployment rate, a drop in GDP, and a decline in the quantity of coinage demanded by the economy.

Even as the Mint began production of the 1949-S, the Roosevelt dime had several varieties by the series’ third year. On the 1949-S obverse, the word “GOD” in the motto was engraved in a sans serif font instead of the Trumpet Tail font used at the time. The initials of the dime’s designer, Chief Engraver John Sinnock, were larger than the earlier 1946 type. When these obverse variations are combined, the 1949-S dime is delineated as an ODV-002. From 1946 to 1952, San Francisco employed the MMS-002 type Trumpet Tail font mint mark on the reverse design.

The 1949-S also has two repunched mint mark varieties, the RPM-001 and 002. Since the mint mark was hand punched into the dies by a mint worker after the working dies were cut from the master die, there can be slight positioning errors creating overlapping mint marks from when the moneyer attempted to fix offset impressions with repeated strikes. The cardinal compass points describe the location of repunched mint marks using the second mintmark as the descriptor (North – Above / East – Right / South – Below / West – Left). RPM-001 has a slight westerly drift, and RPM-002 has a more noticeable northwesterly drift.

Depending on the condition of the host coin, RPM examples of the 1949-S can expect a $5-10 increase in value.

In another milestone for the production of 10-cent pieces, the United States Mint installed more powerful rollers, quadrupling the output of 10-cent planchets in 1949. This was also the last year before the Mint resumed production of Proof coinage.

What Is the 1949-S Roosevelt Dime Worth?

While the 1949-S Roosevelt dime has an estimated average rarity of 1 in all grades and 2.2 in MS65 or better, it is one of the few regular strike Roosevelt dimes that commands a numismatic premium over the coins’ base bullion value in the lower range circulated grades. The 1949-S dime generally realizes about twice the value of other Roosevelt dimes in moderately to lightly worn grades. These mid-range examples (35-55) generally sell for between $5 and $10. In certified grades, the highest prices are for examples with Full Torch/Full Bands designations or with extraordinary rainbow toning.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS68FB (1, 4/2024). NGC MS68FT (1, 4/2024), and CAC MS68 (0:1 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

When Heritage Auctions offered PCGS MS67+FB #25039700 on June 6, 2013, the coin was a top pop, pop one coin. The MS68FB coin was likely made sometime before 2021. That coin sold at GreatCollections on August 2, 2020, for a record price of $11,812.50.

As of April 2024, the population of MS67+FB coins has increased to seventeen. The typical example has sold for $1,000+, with a few selling for significantly more.

  • NGC MS68FT #6616805-003: eBay, December 2022 – $6,000. Reported Best Offer Price. Brilliant.
  • PCGS MS68FB #39242765: GreatCollections, August 2, 2020, Lot 808024 – $11,812.50. Peripheral rainbow toning on both sides.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #45006862: GreatCollections, June 12, 2022, Lot 1094139 – View; GreatColletions, April 23, 2023, Lot 1348837 – View; Heritage Auctions, February 6, 2024, Lot 21163 – $1,020. Rust and green peripheral toning on the top and bottom of the obverse and above OF AMERICA on the reverse.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #46725838: “The Daniel D. Biddle Collection of Roosevelt Dimes,” GreatCollections, April 2, 2023, Lot 1326976 – View; GreatCollections, June 25, 2023, Lot 1383905 – View. Daniel D. Biddle on insert. Brilliant.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #45534339: Heritage Auctions, August 1, 2022, Lot 44062 – $2,100. PQ rainbow toning.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #29833947: Heritage Auctions, February 27, 2022, Lot 7089 – $3,120. Frosty with a dusting of rose toning.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #42088888: Stack’s Bowers, November 22, 2021, Lot 1311 –  $1,920; Heritage Auctions, August 26, 2022, Lot 4432 – $1,800; Heritage Auctions, July 23, 2023, Lot 7092 – $1,020. Creamy with scattered rust toning.
  • NGC MS67+FT #4221852-016: Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2021, Lot 7103 – $1,110. Rust-colored toning covers most of the reverse and is on the bottom and right of the obverse.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #30805465: Heritage Auctions, February 16, 2017, Lot 3426 – $2,291.25. Brilliant.
  • PCGS MS67+FB #25039700: Heritage Auctions, June 6, 2013, Lot 4013 – $3,290. Dark rust crescent toning on the obverse and the reverse that reaches deep into the field. When offered top pop, pop one.

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Design

Obverse:

Most of the obverse design consists of a pensive, left-facing bust of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the northwest quadrant, directly in front of Roosevelt’s face, is the standard legend LIBERTY. Below the president’s chin, in smaller letters, is the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST.

The designers’ initials (JS) are directly below the neck truncation on the bust. Placed at a slightly higher line than the motto and to the right of the designer’s initials is the date 1949.

Reverse:

Centered in the reverse design is a flaming torch symbolizing liberty. The torch sits between the olive branch of peace on the left and the oak branch of victory on the right. The USA’s traditional motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM, is split into four parts between the branches and torch. Since the words are divided as E PLU / RIB / US U / NUM, there are centering dots between each word. This central design is surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at the top and the slightly larger denomination ONE DIME on the bottom. Unlike the dimes struck after 1967 with the mint mark on the obverse above the date, the 1949 “S” mint mark is placed in the lower reverse at the left of the torch.

Edge:

The edge of the 1949-S Roosevelt dime is reeded with 118 reeds.

Roosevelt Dime Designer

John R. Sinnock became the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint upon George T. Morgan’s death in 1925 and held the position until his death on May 14, 1947. In addition to being chosen by Mint Director Nellie Ross to design the new Roosevelt dime and Franklin half dollar in 1946, Sinnock is responsible for engraving the 1926 Sesquicentennial American Independence half dollar and gold $2.5 for the United States’ 150th anniversary. Sinnock also helped sculpt the Army’s modern Purple Heart medal in 1932 for Military Merit by soldiers wounded in combat.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1949
Denomination: 10 Cents (USD)
Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 13,510,000
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 2.50 g
Diameter: 17.90 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John R. Sinnock
REV Designer: John R. Sinnock
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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9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi I have a liberty quarter , I believe it is 1925 or 1926 ,its hard to tell ,I was told its called undated I was offered $750 from a pawn shop on stock ca. I did not sell,I figured it was worth more. What your opinion?

  2. I have a couple of 1968 No s on them
    Roosevelt Dimes that I have seen sold for 50,000 in auction and was wondering how much are they really worth

    • @Greg The only valuable 1968 “No S” dimes are those included in proof sets. 1968 was the first year of proof production at San Francisco; the error occurred when the “S” mint mark was inadvertently left off a die.

      It’s far more likely you have an ordinary business-strike dime from Philadelphia. It’s important to remember that except for war nickels, Philadelphia didn’t use a P mint mark on any coins until 1979/80.

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