In 1936, there were 9,210,000 dimes struck at the San Francisco Mint, which was a relatively average mintage for an S-mint Mercury dime. But in the middle of the Great Depression, many individual coins and even rolls were saved, if not hoarded, and held onto until fairly recently. Of those certified by PCGS and granted the Full Bands designation, the company reports 35 specimens graded MS-67+, with two graded MS-68 and one graded 68+.
CAC, of course, saw fit to approve the current piece as strong for the grade.
But let’s not forget the other major aspects of eye appeal. There is light russet toning in the field and around the edge of the coin, with some toning evident in Liberty’s hat and wing and a few small, well-blended traces of violet and rainbow coloring, especially near the top. The toning is similar on the reverse.
Several auction records for similarly graded Full Bands 1936-S dimes are from last year alone. In December, an example sold for $1,469 USD. In August, a specimen garnered $1,680. June saw a coin sell for $1,058, and March had an example sell for $1,528.
If you want to check out GreatCollections for more information about prior sales, be sure to check out the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.
The starting bid for this PCGS/CAC MS-67+ FB 1936-S Mercury dime is $3,750.
What Are “Full Bands”?
The grading designation “Full Bands” (FB) means that PCGS has determined that the pairs of straps or bands wrapping horizontally at the top, bottom, and center of the fasces–a bundle of rods bound with leather around a central ax–on the reverse are struck sharply enough that the narrow spaces between each member of the pair are evident. While they naturally command a premium over non-Full Band specimens, Full Band examples are rarer for some dates than others and the premium is correspondingly higher.
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 advertisements found in the back of comic books and magazines. When the song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” came out in 1930, it was the Mercury dime that was being referenced.
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 dollar. Although specialists might seek out perfectly struck examples with Full Bands on the reverse, the dime is remembered as an elegant and practical coin.
Proofs were struck at the Philadelphia Mint each year from 1936 through 1942, when the manufacture of all Proof coins by the United States Mint was interrupted by the Second World War.
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.
Adolph A. Weinman’s obverse design features Liberty (of Thought) facing to the left. A winged cap adorns her head, tufts of hair curl around the base of the Phrygian cap on her forehead and behind her ear. A braid of hair wraps around the base of her neck. LIBERTY wraps around the top of the coin with letters spaced apart.
The letters E and R are partially obstructed by Liberty’s cap. The designer’s initials (W surmounting A) for “Adolph Weinman” appear behind Liberty’s neck below and to the left of the Y in LIBERTY. The date “1936” appears below the bust truncation, to the rear. A subtle basin creates a dish-like appearance in the field.
In the center of the reverse is the fasces, with the blade facing to the left. A curvilinear branch of olive leaves wraps behind the fasces. Wrapping around the top of the design is the legend: UNITED · STATES · OF · AMERICA. Around the bottom of the design is the denomination: ONE DIME. Two five-pointed stars separate the legend from the denomination. The mint mark “S” is located at the bottom, between the word ONE and the olive branch. The motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” (OUT OF MANY, ONE) appears to the right of the fasces, slightly below the center.
The edge of the 1936-S Mercury dime is reeded, as are all examples of the type.