With 4.161 million pieces struck, the 1928-D is the ninth-lowest mintage of the Mercury dime series and the fourth-lowest mintage from the Denver Mint. But thanks to hoarding and a boom in coin collecting during the 1930s, this dime is relatively more available in Mint State than some earlier Mercury issues.
Nevertheless, it becomes conditionally rare in higher grades.
The coin on offer at GreatCollections this week is one of just two 1928-D dimes graded MS-66 by PCGS, with only three finer at MS-67. The most recent auction record for one of the pair is from June 2014, when it sold for $1,401 USD. Auction results for MS-67 examples aren’t far removed from this, but they were achieved over 20 years ago in a different coin market: $1,430 in January 1996 and $1,650 in August 1995. And the record price for a 1928-D in any grade is $6,600 for the sale of an MS-64 specimen in October 1997.
Adding to the appeal of the GreatCollections auction highlight is some light sepia toning on the obverse, with bright purple and subdued merlots around the eye, above the cap and especially around the “T” and the “Y” in LIBERTY. There is a spot of dark toning between the “L” and the “I” but it is not distracting. The reverse is almost entirely covered in a creamy sepia that outdoes the obverse.
To check GreatCollections for their sales involving Mercury dimes, search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.
At the time of publication, the price for this 1928-D Mercury dime is $1,400 to start the bidding.
A Brief History of the Mercury Dime
The Mercury or Winged Liberty dime (1916-1945) has long stood as an iconic coin in the U.S. series. Adolph Weinman’s elegant design draws heavily from the French Beaux Arts movement of the late 19th century. Its release immediately preceded the Roosevelt dime (1946-Present), and it is the last U.S. dime to be struck entirely in .900 silver.
Heralded for its beauty, the Mercury dime saw the country through both World Wars and the Great Depression. Its unmistakable design was attached to both the March of Dimes anti-polio campaign and countless Charles Atlas advertisements found in the back of comic books and magazines. When “Yip” Harburg wrote the song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” in 1930, it was the Mercury dime he was talking about.
The dime’s use in circulation carried on without incident. The design didn’t have the striking problems of the Buffalo nickel or the Walking Liberty half. Although specialists might seek out perfectly struck examples with Full Split Bands on the reverse (scarce for some issues), the dime is remembered as an elegant and practical coin.
The Mercury dime’s term of service came to an unexpected end when on April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. Almost immediately, a movement began to honor Roosevelt on a circulating coin. The dime was the obvious choice as the denomination recalled both Franklin’s battle with polio and his work with the March of Dimes.
So with that, the stellar 30-year run of the Winged Liberty dime came to an end. Over the next few decades, coins in circulation were worn down, Mint State examples were hoarded, rare dates and varieties were cherrypicked, and by the time silver coins exited the scene in the mid-to-late 1960s, only the most worn examples continued to circulate.
Untold tens of thousands of original Mercury dimes–including some scarce dates–were melted in the silver run-up of the early 1980s.