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Liberty Seated Dime, Stars, No Drapery (1838-1840) | CoinWeek

1839-O Liberty Seated Dime. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1839-O Liberty Seated Dime. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

Though the Liberty Head, No Stars Dime was a more faithful rendition of the cameo-like Liberty Seated design as implemented by Christian Gobrecht, objections were voiced about the “missing” stars. Gobrecht’s predecessor William Kneass had included 13 small stars to the sides of Liberty on the previous Capped Bust style, but Gobrecht did not include them on the Liberty Seated Dimes produced at Philadelphia in 1837 and at New Orleans in 1838. These first Liberty Seated Dimes and Half Dimes were in effect miniature renditions of the design Gobrecht had used for the 1836 Liberty Seated Dollar, which showed only Liberty and the date on an otherwise blank obverse field.

To conform to Mint policy of having standard designs on coins made from the same metal, stars were added to the obverse of quarters, dimes, and half dimes in 1838; but not to the 1838-O Liberty Seated Dime because dies without stars had been dispatched prior to Mint Director Robert M. Patterson’s standardization order. Dimes with Stars produced for the first three years did, however, have another design distinction, apparent only in comparison to issues produced from later 1840 forward. Robert Ball Hughes, a sculptor originally from London, England, was hired in late 1840 to make modifications to Liberty on the Seated design. Along with other changes, Hughes added extra drapery that extended from Liberty’s left elbow down over her knee. This earlier Stars type does not have that drapery, nor Hughes’ other changes, but the lack of drapery has become the identifier of the type.

How Much Are Liberty Seated Dimes, Stars, No Drapery Worth?

Census/population reports show a few hundred Stars, No Drapery business strike dimes, including many Gem and finer examples. There are fewer Small Stars variety certifications than there are varieties with Large Stars, and fewer still with the Partial Drapery variation. New Orleans examples are also not as common as Philadelphia issues. Prices are modest for all dates to Select Uncirculated, increasing to expensive as Gem and finer. Both O-mintmarked dates of the type are more expensive than Philadelphia issues, with the 1840-O expensive as MS60 and finer, very expensive as Gem. Proof examples of the Stars, No Drapery dime are extremely rare, though a few Cameo/Specimen examples have been certified. All Proofs are very expensive, particularly as near-Gem and finer.

Design

On the obverse is a full-length representation of Liberty wearing long, flowing robes and seated on a rock, her head turned back to her right. Her left arm is bent and holds a pole topped by a Liberty cap. The right arm extends down at her side, hand supporting a Union shield, draped over which is a slightly curved banner displaying the word LIBERTY. The date is at the bottom, below the rock upon which Liberty rests. Inside denticles along the raised rim 13 stars form a partial circle, seven to the left of Liberty, one between Liberty’s head and the Liberty cap, and five to the right of the cap.

The reverse has a concentric circle formed by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA inside the denticulated rim, broken at the bottom by the ribbon that ties the ends of two branches. The branches form another circle inside the text, though the ends are slightly separated at the top, and in the center is the denomination of ONE DIME, each word on a separate line.

Liberty Seated, Stars, No Drapery Dimes were produced at Philadelphia and New Orleans; the O mintmark is located below DIME and above the bows of the ribbon.

Coin Specifications

Liberty Seated Dime, Stars, No Drapery
Years of Issue: 1838-40
Mintage (Circulation): High: 1,992,500 (1838); Low: 981,500 (1840)
Mintage (Proof): High: 5 (1838-40, estimated)
Alloy: 90% silver and 10% copper
Weight: 2.67 g
Diameter: 17.90 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht, from Titian Peale/Thomas Sully sketches.
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht

 

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References

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.

Greer, Brian. The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dimes. DLRC Press.

Guth, Ron and Jeff Garrett. United States Coinage: A Study by Type. Whitman Publishing.

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.

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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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