Stacks Bowers Long Beach Expo Auction

HomeUS CoinsCapped Bust Dime, Small Size (1828-1837) | CoinWeek

Capped Bust Dime, Small Size (1828-1837) | CoinWeek

1829 Capped Bust Dime, JR-12. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1829 Capped Bust Dime, JR-12. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

William Kneass became Chief Engraver of the United States Mint in 1823 after the death of Robert Scot. Tasked with improving U.S coin designs, the 43-year-old Kneass installed new coin presses that used close collar dies, and made revisions to allow for a more precise coinage than that produced by his predecessors.

The new collar dies restricted the outward flow during striking, and imparted a reeded edge to the dime, a process that had previously been accomplished manually. Not only was edge reeding more efficiently applied with the close collar but it was also necessary; any previously imparted edge designs would have been obliterated by that collar during minting. To maintain the legal weight standard, the Small Sized Capped Bust Dime was made slightly smaller and thicker than the previous Large Size Capped Bust Dime.

Though the close collar introduced a measure of uniformity, design elements like dates, stars, and letters were still hand punched – which accounts for the number of die varieties known for a series of relatively short length. Subsequent study of Capped Bust Dimes has shown that the diameter of dimes produced during this period still varied, particularly through 1834, because not all collars were of the same size.

Rather than size, the primary means of determining the type is the design of the rim details. Dimes produced before the introduction of the close collar have denticles around the edge in a larger radial design that formed a complete circle even if the planchet was struck slightly off center. Small Size Capped Bust Dimes have a raised rim, followed along the inside by small beads laid out in a pattern similar to that of the previous denticles.

Kneass modified John Reich’s design for the smaller dime size and the new minting processes, though no significant design changes were made. In the transition year of 1837, both Capped Bust Dimes and the subsequent Liberty Seated design were produced.

How Much Are Capped Bust Dimes Worth?

Several thousand business strike Capped Bust Small Size Dimes have been certified, including a few Prooflike pieces. Prices are moderate for most dates at grades up to and including near-Gem, expensive as Gem and finer. The most expensive date is the 1829 Curl Base 2, which is expensive for all grades. Very few Proof coins have been certified, though there are a couple with a Cameo designation. All are expensive, with prices very expensive as Select Proof and finer.



The obverse features a matronly Liberty, facing left and wearing a mobcap bound at the base with a ribbon. The ribbon displays the word LIBERTY and is tied at the back. Liberty has long curling hair that peeks from under the cap at the front and sides and cascades down the back. A loosely draped garment lies across the bust and shoulder, secured with a small clasp above the shoulder. Thirteen six-pointed stars are to the sides of Liberty–seven to the left and six to the right–and the stars form a circle inside the beaded border. The date is at the bottom.


The reverse shows a centered left-facing eagle, with extended but partly folded wings. The eagle clutches an olive branch in the right claw and three arrows in the left. A shield is placed over the chest. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA forms a concentric arc to the inside of the top two-thirds of the raised rim and beaded border, with the denomination of 10 C. at the bottom visually completing the circle. A simply curved banner, ends folded to the back, displays the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. All coins were minted at Philadelphia and display no mintmark.

Small Size Capped Bust Dime Varieties

Several varieties are known, including the 1828 Small Date, Square Base 2; the 1829 Curl Base 2, and Small, Medium, and Large 10 C.; the 1830/29, and Large and Small 10 C.; the 1833 last 3 high; the 1834 Small 4 and Large 4; and other, more minor die variations.

Coin Specifications

Capped Bust Dime, Small Size
Years of Issue: 1828-37
Mintage (Circulation): High: 1,410,000 (1835); Low: 125,000 (1828, includes Large and Small size coinage)
Mintage (Proof): High: 15 (1831-1835, estimated); Low: 10 (1828-1830 and 1836-1837, estimated).
Alloy: 89.24% silver, 10.76% copper
Weight: ±2.7 g (slightly lower for some 1837 coins, per the Mint Act of January 18, 1837)
Diameter: ±18.5 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Reich
REV Designer: John Reich


* * *

Additional Resources

Bowers, Q. David. The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Whitman Publishing.

–. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Whitman Publishing.

Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Doubleday.

Logan, Russell, John McCloskey, et al. Early United States Dimes 1796-1837. John Reich Collectors Society.

Taxay, Don. The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Arco Publishing.

Yeoman, R.S. and Jeff Garrett (editor). The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Whitman Publishing.

* * *

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

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Heritage Auctions June

L and C COIN Shop Now

Blanchard and Company Gold and Precious Metals