United States 1987-S Roosevelt Dime

In celebration of the current San Francisco Mint’s 50th anniversary, an unprecedented 2,263 visitors were allowed to tour the building all while under heavy guard. The visitors were made to leave their pocket change, jewelry, belts, and shoes with security. All the while, the Mint was extremely busy. For in 1987, San Francisco was responsible not only for striking the entirety of the American Silver Eagle issuance but also for the largest issuance of Proof Roosevelt dimes to date.

While producing these Proof coins, the United States Mint reported that it used up to 10,000 towels every day to clean and polish them!

These coins were only available for purchase as part of special sets and were not intended for circulation. The Mint struck 3,792,233 Proof Roosevelt dimes for their standard Proof Sets and a further 435,495 for the relatively new Prestige Sets. The standard Proof Sets consisted of five pieces (Cent, Nickel, Dime, Quarter, and Half Dollar) sealed in a ridged plastic case and priced at $11 ($28.69 adjusted for inflation). These sets were almost entirely Deep Cameo. In addition to those coins, the Prestige Sets–packaged in a more innovative display booklet–also contained the 1987 Constitution silver dollar. Prestige Sets were sold by the Mint for $45 ($117.36 adjusted for inflation).

The Market for the 1987-S Dime

With a mintage of 4,227,728 pieces, the 1987-S is the most common Proof Roosevelt dime.

As with most common modern coins, the official populations of PCGS and NGC are quite small, with PCGS having graded 7,934 pieces and NCG only 852 pieces. Also, despite being a Proof finish, this coin is still cupro-nickel clad. All of this means that, except in the very highest grades, this coin comands a relatively low premium. In fact, in almost all grades lower than PR 70, it costs more to have the coin graded than the coin is actually worth. Another impact of this is that most examples are sold in public venues like coin shows or eBay, instead of at auction.

Today, examples certified as DCAM PR 70 regularly sell for between $10 and $20, though there are some outliers, with examples trading for as low as $3 and high as $35. This was not always the case since the value of this type has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. In fact, the auction record was set by a PR70 in 2003 with a hammer price of $978 in a Heritage Auctions sale. This was, however, another outlier, since from 2004 to 2010 this grade regularly sold for just over $200. By 2012, the coin had depreciated to roughly $50 and has only continued to fall since.

In DCAM PR 69 and 68, while these coins currently sell for between $4 and $10, some go for as low as $3 and some as high as $40. Twenty years ago, the price sat at around $20. One outlier was sold by Heritage in May 2004 for $70. Yet the price had dropped to a reliable $15 by 2015, and $5 by 2018.

In all grades from PR 67 down, there are only three auction records for graded coins: one PR 67, one PR 67 DCAM, and one PR 65 CAM. These are interesting listings because the PR 67 DCAM and PR 65 CAM both sold in 2018 for unusually high amounts ($34 and $74, respectively). This was most likely a toning tax since both pieces have rather spectacular toning. It can be assumed that all other examples were sold or traded via private sales.

Examples below Mint State may go for as much as 1$. But as this coin has no precious metal content, as the condition gets progressively worse the price will drop to nearly face value.

Design

Obverse:

Most of the obverse design consists of a pensive, left facing, bust of the beloved late 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (served 1933-45). 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 moto IN GOD WE TRUST. Directly below the neck truncation on the bust are the designers’ initials (JS). Placed at a slightly higher line than the motto and to designer’s initials right is the date (1987). Unlike dimes struck before 1967 that have the mintmark on the lower reverse to the left of the torch, the “S” mintmark is on the obverse above the date (1987).

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. Split into four parts between the branches and torch is the USA’s traditional moto: E PLURIBUS UNUM. Since the words are divided as follows, E PLU / RIB / US U / NUM, there are centering dots between each word. This central design is completely surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at the top and the slightly larger denomination ONE DIME on the bottom.

Edge:

The edge of the 1987-S Roosevelt dime is reeded with 118 reeds.

Designer

John R. Sinnock became the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint upon George T. Morgan’s death in 1925, holding the position until his own death on May 14, 1947. In addition to being chosen by Mint Director Nellie Ross to design both the new Roosevelt dime and Franklin half dollar in 1946, Sinnock is responsible for engraving the 1926 Sesquicentennial American Independence half dollar and gold $2.50 for the 150th anniversary of the United States of America. Sinnock also helped sculpt the US Army’s modern Purple Heart medal for Military Merit by soldiers wounded in combat.

Coin Specifications

Country:  United States
Year Of Issue:  1987
Denomination:  10 Cents
Mint Mark:  S (San Francisco)
Mintage:  5,474,000
Alloy:  75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Weight:  2.50 g
Diameter:  17.90 mm
Edge  Reeded
OBV Designer  John R. Sinnock
REV Designer  John R. Sinnock
Quality:  Proof

 

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