By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek …..
The 1975 No-S Proof Roosevelt dime is one of the hottest modern coins in the marketplace after a PR-68 example graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) recently crossed the block for an astounding $456,000, including 20% buyer’s fee. The coin, which sold in the Heritage Auctions sale at Long Beach on September 6, 2019, hadn’t been on an auction floor in eight years.
Then on September 11, the dime’s buyers–Mitch Spivack, his son Justin Spivack of MonsterCoinMart, and Roosevelt specialist Steven Heller–sold the coin via agent Nick Cascio to a fellow Roosevelt dime collector for $516,000, a new record price.
The 1975 No-S Proof now joins the Halycon Collection of Roosevelt dimes, highly ranked in the PCGS Set Registry.
But while eight years might seem like a long time between spikes in action for such a rarity, it’s nothing unusual for this piece. Only two 1975 No-S Roosevelt dimes are known, and both have histories of being held in collections for many years at a time.
The 1975 No-S Dime in the Marketplace
Over the course of this specimen’s existence, it has been traded publicly very infrequently. Both this modern rarity and the other known 1975 No-S dime were discovered by a woman who purchased a bulk order of five 1975-S Proof sets from the United States Mint. She saw that in two of the sets the Proof dime lacked an “S” mintmark and in July 1977 sent one of the coins to Coin World for review by staff involved with the magazine’s “Collector’s Clearinghouse”.
She also submitted both coins to ANACS, which in the pre-slab era of the late 1970s provided authentication services for coins. After ANACS announced its certification of one of the coins in January 1978, coin collectors across the country began searching for other 1975 No-S Roosevelt dimes in their Proof sets. Perhaps remarkably, while the Mint produced 2,845,450 Proof sets in 1975, there have been no other reported discoveries of 1975 No-S dimes.
With the numismatic community cognizant of the apparent extreme rarity of the 1975 No-S dime, the original collector who discovered the two error varieties sold the two Proof sets to Illinois coin dealer Fred Vollmer. In 1980, within months of acquiring the two sets, Vollmer sold both for big bucks.
One was sold to an Ohio collector for $18,200, and this collector reportedly still owns the set today; his 1975 No-S dime has since been certified by PCGS as a PR66. The other set, containing the specimen that took $456,000 at the Long Beach Show, was sold for $38,550. That piece eventually went to coin dealer Ken Goldman, who consigned it to Stack’s Bowers. That coin, by then graded PCGS PR68, sold for $349,600 in August 2011 and was held by the same anonymous collector until 2019, when it sold at the Long Beach Expo for some $100,000 more than it realized in its previous offering eight years earlier.
How Was the 1975 No-S Dime Created?
The 1975 No-S Roosevelt dime is chronologically flanked by several other No-S Proof coins that were created during the same era, including three in the Roosevelt dime series minted in 1968, 1970, and 1983. The story behind how the ultra-rare error 1975 No-S dime was created is unclear, though what’s evident is that somehow a die without the “S” mintmark was used to produce a small run of Proofs.
Such an oversight is perhaps excusable as the San Francisco Mint was tasked with the production of 71,991,900 no-mintmark business-strike dimes to help supplement circulation needs. These no-mintmark dimes are indistinguishable from the Philadelphia-minted 1975 dimes, which also do not carry a mintmark. It is theorized that, as the S-mint dies were manufactured at the Philadelphia Mint and were to be polished at San Francisco prior to proof striking, perhaps one of the no-mintmark business-strike dies was polished alongside the S-mint proof dies and accidentally placed into action on the presses.
Surely one could speculate whether or not this was all really an innocent mistake or whether it was intentional. It is not outlandish to theorize that the no-mintmark die was purposefully used to strike up a small run of 1975 No-S dimes. After all, several other freakish, seemingly impossible numismatic curiosities came out of the Mint during that era, including the 1970-S Washington quarter struck on a 1941 Canadian quarter and the 1970-S Washington quarter struck on a 1900 Barber quarter.
Meanwhile, collectors continue searching for any other 1975 No-S Roosevelt dimes that may exist. With more than four decades behind us since the two known dimes were discovered, it’s doubtful that a third example will turn up anytime soon. If any others were minted, they must have been discovered before they left the San Francisco Mint and were promptly destroyed.
Or, if one or two others exist, then perhaps they are floating around in a small hoard of previously unsearched Proof sets–not implausible given that many collectors ordered bulk quantities of Proof sets but stored them away in their original shipping cartons and have long since forgotten them.
One thing is certain, however. Any 1975 Roosevelt dimes without mint marks that turn up with great frequency in circulation are not examples of the rare 1975 No-S Proof dime. Rather, they are ordinary Philadelphia Mint circulation strikes that, if worn, are worth only face value.