Nine years after adopting the P mintmark, the Philadelphia Mint was on a roll. In fact, 1988 was the first year since 1967 that Philadelphia struck over one billion dimes, a 35% jump from 1987. To accommodate these increased production activities, the United States Mint hired 478 new employees, 196 of which were at the Philadelphia facility. At the same time, four new high-speed coin presses and a new press feeding system were installed.
The Philadelphia Mint also took a large step into the technological age in 1988 by upgrading its technology. The Mint installed five computer LAN networks, a new CD-ROM storage facility, an upgraded electronic customer order database that resulted in a ten-fold increase in order processing speed, and the adoption of electronic mail (aka email).
These combined not only to create a large mintage of dimes in 1988 but also to ensure a high quality of production. Like many more recent modern US coin types, the 1988-P Roosevelt dime is usually well struck with strong details. Currently, a number of high-grade examples of this type can be found in original Uncirculated Mint Sets. 1,646,204 of these sets were sold for $7 each, with orders being accepted starting in March 1988. Today, these sets can be bought for $5 to $10.
The 1988-P Roosevelt Dime in Today’s Market
Despite the generally high production standard for this issuance, the vast majority of the 1988-P dime is found today in circulation. This is mainly due to the fact that all grades below 65 are only worth face value, and since they are not worth any significant numismatic premium, there is little reason to pull them from circulation unless to fill a hole in a type set or date collection. While examples in MS 66, with either the Full Bands (FB) or Full Torch (FT) designation, are worth roughly $15 to $20, they can still be acquired quite easily. Any example in this or worse condition that has been graded and slabbed is most likely a submitter mistake or an error coin. A submitter who received any straight MS grade is bound to be disappointed, especially since that is worth less than the cost of grading. As a result, the population is rather top-heavy, with 392 of the 546 total population graded as MS 66 and above. Additionally, of that figure, 130 (or 33%) are FB/FT, a non-representative sample of the entire surviving population of the type.
An example really needs to earn the PCGS Full Bands or NGC Full Torch designation and be MS 67 or higher to be graded. In order to receive these designations, the dime must have a strong, sharp strike. These pieces will display a reverse torch that has two distinct pairs of upper and lower horizontal bands. While coins graded as low as MS 60 can receive the FB/FT designation, PCGS records MS 64 and NGC reports MS 65 as the lowest grade with a FB/FT designation for this type (as of the date of writing). This is because NGC’s FT designation is slightly stricter and requires the torch’s vertical lines to also be well-defined. It wasn’t until April 1, 2003, that PCGS began using this designation; NGC followed suit two weeks later on April 14, and so any coin slabbed before those dates will not have the designation.
In 2018, there seemed to be a jump in value, and MS 67 FB/FT coins went from an average of between $30 and $40 to between $150 and $180 but the coins involved look very similar. While the most expensive example does have a subtle yet attractive rainbow toning, most of the coins would probably have sold for the lower figure a few years prior. Today they still sell for roughly $175 to $200, and while rare, collectors can still find examples by looking through Mint rolls, old collections, or original Mint Sets. While the king of the type should be the MS 68+ FB/FT, the most recent auction record of an MS 68 FB blew the “+” grade example out of the water. Instead of a standard $200 price tag, this coin brought in $1,560! While a nearly perfect and fully lustrous example with no visible marks, it was no better than the MS 68+ FB that sold on eBay in March (seven months earlier). The only explanation is the poor photography the eBay seller used.
Most of the obverse design consists of a 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 motto 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 the designer’s initials right is the date (1988). Unlike earlier dimes struck before 1965 that have the mintmark on the lower reverse to the left of the torch, the “P” mintmark is on the obverse above the date (1988).
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.
The edge of the 1988-P Roosevelt dime is reeded with 118 reeds.
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.
|Year Of Issue:||1988|
|Denomination:||10 Cents (USD)|
|Mint Mark:||P (Philadelphia)|
|Alloy:||75% Copper, 25% Nickel|
|OBV Designer||John R. Sinnock|
|REV Designer||John R. Sinnock|