Struck four years after the last .900 silver dimes were produced (they were dated 1964), the 1970 Roosevelt dime was struck to the tune of 345,570,000 pieces. This would have been an astronomical sum during the silver period, but for the clad era, this was a marked decline from the billion-dollar mintages reported during the “date freeze” period.
1970 marked the first full year in office of United States Mint Director Mary T. Brooks. Brooks was appointed to the position in March 1969 by President Richard M. Nixon but didn’t assume office until September of that year. Fiscal year 1969 saw a majority of the nation’s coinage produced at the Denver Mint. Operations at the Philadelphia Mint took place during a year of transition from the third to the fourth mint facility. The requirements of the economy were also somewhat less in 1969 and 1970.
The Mint used a mixture of old and new presses to strike coins. The old presses capable of striking two dimes per stroke, while the new presses were designed to strike four. The Mint had contracted with General Motors to build a Superpress that would be capable of striking 144 coins per revolution, but this experimental press didn’t pan out and was quietly shelved. Some 1968-1969 cents were produced on that equipment and are (so far) indistinguishable from cents struck on other machines.
At any rate, most of the silver coins of the pre-1964 era had been removed from circulation by 1970. Still, coins of this tenor would turn up with some regularity. Speculators and collectors did their part to hasten Gresham’s Law, but the Treasury Department worked systematically to remove silver coins from its holdings.
The clad strip used to strike 1970 dimes was purchased under contract. In 1972, the Mint would develop its own ability to produce clad coin strip.
Circulation strike 1970 dimes produced at the Philadelphia Mint display no mintmark and are frequently confused with rare Proof mint errors where the S mintmark of San Francisco was accidentally omitted.
Although 53 years into circulation, 1970 dimes are still encountered in commerce. The typical example will be worn to the grade of VF or below. These examples carry no retail markup over face value.
Mint State examples are common. A majority of the known examples are derived from the 1970 United States Uncirculated Mint Set. These sets include one example of each circulating coin struck that year from the working mints and have a face value of $1.33. From this set, the 1970-D Kennedy half dollar–the last circulation strike 40% silver Kennedy half dollar–is typically the collector’s focal point. The clad dime and quarter are more or less inconsequential in the context of the set. Curiously, the three cents, although nominally valuable, are the most challenging to find in Superb Gem grades due to the quality of ’70s cent production and the highly reactive nature of copper as a coining metal.
The Market for the 1970 Dime
The market value for uncirculated 1970 dimes is trifurcated. The lowest value is the value paid for a “Gem” uncertified coin. These coins, likely pulled from rolls, bags, or mint sets, will vary in appearance. The buyer should not expect the coins to be un-searched and should not expect that any coins purchased in this manner will qualify for Full Bands/Full Torch designations.
The Red Book suggests a retail price of $2 for one of these coins, but it is not unusual to see them sell for less than 75¢ each.
MS65-certified 1970 Roosevelt dimes will routinely trade for under $10 each. At this price point, the coin is selling for a premium and comes with certain benefits (a secure holder, a trackable certification number, the ability to compete in a Set Registry program). These benefits come at a cost, and it’s important to note that at $10 or fewer dollars per coin, the price is below the submission cost.
Therefore, the 1970 dime is not a date that is submitted in large quantities. Investors of the higher grades should be aware of this and understand that should the balance of submission cost versus price realized shift in favor of the submitter, then the condition census could increase dramatically.
For now, though, the absolute rarity of certified coins with Full Bands or Torches results in large premiums for high-end, fully struck certified coins. Surprisingly, we peg the market value of a potential MS67FB/FT 1970 business strike ahead of what the scarce 1970 No-S Proof would trade at in the same grade. To date, neither NGC nor PCGS has certified a single example above the grade of MS66.
This presents an opportunity for the well-calibrated clad coin grader and self-submitter. Don’t count on easy pickings. This is an issue that the Philadelphia Mint did not produce with an eye for quality.
A left-facing profile of President Franklin D. Roosevelt occupies most of the obverse space. Inside the smooth rim in front of Roosevelt’s face is the word LIBERTY. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST in smaller letters is positioned below the chin. The date 1970 is squeezed into the space inside the rim and beneath the neck truncation, to the right of the designer’s initials JS, which are just below and oriented parallel to the edge of the neckline. The mintmark “P” is located at the back of the head between the date and the truncation of Roosevelt’s neck.
Completely encircling inside the reverse smooth rim are the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and (in slightly larger letters) ONE DIME, the two phrases separated by centered dots. In the center is a flaming torch, flanked by an olive branch to the left and an oak branch to the right. Forming a horizontal line through the base of the torch and both branches is a partitioned E PLURIBUS UNUM, with centering dots separating the three Latin words.
The edge of the 1970-P Roosevelt dime is reeded.
John R. Sinnock (1888-1947) served as the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1925 through his death on May 14, 1947. He is responsible for the design of both the Roosevelt dime and the Franklin half dollar.
|Year Of Issue:||1970|
|Denomination:||10 Cents (USD)|
|Mint Mark:||P (Philadelphia)|
|Alloy:||75% Copper, 25% Nickel|
|OBV Designer||John R. Sinnock|
|REV Designer||John R. Sinnock|
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