HomeUS CoinsRoosevelt Dime, Silver (1946-1964) | CoinWeek

Roosevelt Dime, Silver (1946-1964) | CoinWeek

1957 Roosevelt Dime. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1957 Roosevelt Dime. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

A Turning Point in American History

Few presidents were as consequential in American history as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After failing to secure the Vice Presidency in the 1920 general election, Roosevelt built a national network of political allies in the Democratic Party while privately dealing with a serious paralytic illness that doctors diagnosed as polio. In 1928, at the urging of Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Smith, Roosevelt ran for and won the governorship of the state of New York, beating Republican candidate Albert Ottinger. Roosevelt was governor when the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, and he saw first-hand the impact that the global economic crisis had on working people. As governor, he established an employment commission and openly expressed support for unemployment insurance. It was during this period, and his 1932 campaign for president, that the origins of the New Deal can be seen.

After Roosevelt’s blowout electoral win against incumbent president Herbert Hoover, a great political realignment took root. The Roosevelt Administration established an alphabet soup of government agencies to provide economic relief for working people and reforms for the institutions that the most Americans saw as being responsible for the financial collapse.

Despite a number of significant financial reforms–including the recall of gold coin and bullion, the establishment of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the National Labor Relations Board, the passing of the Emergency Banking Act (which allowed the Federal Reserve Banks to issue banknotes), and the creation of the Social Security Administration–the Great Depression proved a stubborn thing. Despite the challenges, Roosevelt had done enough to secure a second term in the landslide election of 1936.

Roosevelt’s second term would see America’s isolationism tested by the rise of the Axis Powers in Europe. At home, the administration’s displeasure at the Supreme Court’s conservative majority set in motion a push to reform the court by allowing the administration to pack it with justices more aligned with its values. While the public, and members of his own party, objected to expansion, the court did begin to ease off on its opinions limiting the government’s ability to regulate the economy.

By the end of the 1930s, the war in Europe and Asia began to dominate Roosevelt’s–and the nation’s–attention. In 1940, Roosevelt broke precedent by running for and winning a third term (Roosevelt’s fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt had attempted to run for a third term in 1912 but was stymied by Republican Party bosses). FDR’s candidacy was buoyed by his promise of support for Great Britain as it armed itself in anticipation of war against Nazi Germany.

World War II would dominate America’s attention for the remainder of Roosevelt’s life. Americans trusted Roosevelt’s leadership and felt like he understood them and their struggles. In 1944, despite a medical examination revealing that he had serious and irreversible health issues, Roosevelt, determined to see the country through the war, ran for and secured a fourth term. In his final days, he worked to establish a post-war framework amongst the allied powers and sought to ease tensions with Stalin and the Soviet government.

Franklin Roosevelt died on the afternoon of April 12, 1945. Upon hearing the news, a sense of profound loss gripped America and her western allies. Even the hardened Stalin received the American ambassador with great sadness.

Why Did the United States Honor President Roosevelt on the Dime?

In response to this outpouring of sentiment, Treasury Department officials proposed that his portrait be placed on a circulating coin. Coins that were then eligible for change were the cent, the dime, and the half dollar.

The March of Dimes campaign to raise funds for polio research and victim care started during Roosevelt’s first term, and because it was believed that the president had suffered from polio (recent research suggests that the illness might instead have been Guillain-Barr syndrome), selection of the dime seemed appropriate.

The Federal Commission of Fine Arts rejected Chief Engraver John Sinnock’s initial designs, instead recommending an invitational competition. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross refused that suggestion because the new dime was to be ready for circulation by Roosevelt’s birthday on January 30, which marked the start of the 1946 March of Dimes campaign.

Sinnock made the Commission’s changes, but controversy continued to shadow his efforts.

The Cold War that followed the war heightened public fears about the Soviet Union, and a rumor spread that Sinnock’s initials JS, appearing under Roosevelt’s profile, referred to Joseph Stalin.

Another criticism, more credible to some, was that Sinnock had copied Roosevelt’s profile from a plaque of the President created by sculptor Selma Burke. However, a comparison reveals that though the profiles are similar they are not identical. Burke’s is of a thinner and more weather-worn Roosevelt, while Sinnock’s shows a robust, statesmanlike Commander-in-Chief.

How Much Are Silver Roosevelt Dimes Worth?

While Roosevelt Dimes struck in the pre-1965 silver composition no longer widely circulate, the occasional well worn example does surface. As a collectible, silver Roosevelt Dimes are common in most grades. Circulated pre-65 Roosevelt Dimes are typically sold by weight in accumulations referred to as “junk silver”. Uncirculated examples may still be available in bag form and are certainly available in roll form. Individual uncirculated examples sell as un-certifed “raw” singles for a small premium over the coin’s silver content or as certified coins graded by CAC, NGC, or PCGS.

The value of certified silver Roosevelt Dimes is largely dependent on the coin’s condition, strike quality, and if applicable, Cherrypicker’s Guide variety. They may also meet the criteria for Full Band (FB)/Full Torch (FT) designation by one of the third-party grading services if the reverse of a Mint State example shows a clear and complete separation between each band in both pairs of bands on the torch. Coins with FB/FT designations command higher premiums.

The silver Roosevelt Dime has no standout key, although some dates are scarcer than others and sell for a premium. Prices are higher for the 1946 DDO, the 1947-S DDR, the 1949, the 1950-S, and the 1950-S/D.

One standout rarity is the 1964 Special Mint Set dime. These coins were apparently struck in the same quality as the Special Mint Set coins of 1965. More research into these coins is needed to firmly explain their existence.

Proofs were minted from 1950 through the end of the series and are available in grades up to and including PR-70 for many dates. Cameo and Deep Cameo coins are identified and command higher prices, though still moderate until Premium and Superb Gem grades. Doubled Die varieties for 1960 and 1963 Proofs have higher prices.

Varieties

Approximately 30 doubled die, repunched mint mark, and other style varieties have been identified on both circulation and Proof coins. The most popular varieties are published in The Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton.

In-Depth Silver Roosevelt Dime Date Analysis by CoinWeek Notes

Roosevelt Dime Design

Obverse:

A left-facing profile of Roosevelt occupies most of the obverse space. Inside the smooth rim in front of Roosevelt’s face is the word LIBERTY. IN GOD WE TRUST in smaller letters is positioned below the chin. The date is squeezed into the space inside the rim and beneath the neck truncation, to the right of the designer’s initials JS, which are just below and oriented parallel to the edge of the neckline.

Reverse:

Completely encircling inside the reverse smooth rim are the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and (slightly larger letters) ONE DIME, the two phrases separated by centered dots. In the center is a flaming torch, flanked by an olive branch to the left and an oak branch to the right. Forming a horizontal line through the base of the torch and both branches is a partitioned E PLURIBUS UNUM, with centering dots separating the three Latin words. Coins were minted at Philadelphia, San Francisco (through 1955), and Denver; S and D mint marks are placed at the left of the base of the torch.

Edge:

The edge of the Roosevelt Dime is reeded.

Designer

John R. Sinnock became the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint upon George T. Morgan’s death in 1925 and held the position until his own death on May 14, 1947. In addition to being chosen by Mint Director Nellie Ross to design the new Roosevelt Dime and Franklin half dollar in 1946, Sinnock is responsible for engraving the 1926 Sesquicentennial American Independence half dollar and gold $2.5 for the United States’ 150th anniversary. Sinnock also helped sculpt the Army’s modern Purple Heart medal in 1932 for Military Merit by soldiers wounded in combat.

Coin Specifications

Roosevelt Dime (Silver)
Years Of Issue: 1946-64
Mintage (Circulation): High: 1,357,517,180 (1964-D); Low: 12,450,181 (1955)
Mintage (Proof): High: 3,950,762 (1964); Low: 51,386 (1950)
Alloy: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 2.50 g
Diameter: 17.90 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John R. Sinnock
REV Designer: John R. Sinnock

 

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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.

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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1 COMMENT

  1. I like reliable information. This channel is one that the wider community needs to get correct information about the history of coins and the value of their coin collections

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