By Bullion Shark LLC ……
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was the only U.S. president who served more than two terms in office, from 1932 to 1945. During that period, he took the country out of the Great Depression and guided it through most of World War II while also transforming the country in lasting ways such as by establishing Social Security to help ensure that older Americans would be able to avoid poverty.
He also developed polio and became a champion of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which raised money for victims of the disease and helped fund research for a cure. The foundation asked Americans to send a dime, which is how the organization came to be known as the March of Dimes.
The Roosevelt Dime
FDR died on April 12, 1945. The Treasury Department rushed plans to issue a dime in his honor because of his work with the March of Dimes and because he was one of the most popular presidents in our history. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross made plans to release the new coin on what would have been his 64th birthday, January 30, 1946, which is when they debuted.
The coin was designed by John R. Sinnock, who served as the United States Mint’s Chief Engraver from 1925 all the way until 1947. He created a left-facing profile of FDR for the obverse and an image with a torch representing liberty for the reverse, with an olive branch for peace on the right and an oak branch for victory on the left.
Though it is one of the longest-running circulating U.S. coin series, Roosevelt dimes have received relatively less attention from collectors when compared to other types – perhaps partly due to the fact that it is series without a major rarity except for certain variety coins or many low-mintage coins.
As a workhorse circulating coin with a lower denomination, mintages of Roosevelt dimes are mostly very high, beginning with about 350 million for the 1946 P, D, and S coins and reaching as many as almost four billion a year in the early 2000s.
Silver Roosevelt Dimes
At the same time, there are many good reasons to collect this series. One might begin with the fact that even though all issues from 1946 to 1964 are made of 90% silver and 10% copper (with a net silver weight of .07234 ounces per coin), the series is quite affordable and easy to assemble. Since 1965 the coins have been struck in clad like our quarters and half dollars, except for the silver Proofs issued since 1992. Silver Proof dimes were initially issued from 1950 to 1964 and clad Proofs have been issued since 1969.
A basic uncirculated set (about MS63 for most coins) can be had for about $350 USD. In addition, rolls of silver Roosevelt dimes are readily available in circulated condition, uncirculated, and even Proof.
Roosevelt Dime Value
At the current silver spot value as of the time of writing on September 2, a 90% silver Roosevelt dime has a melt value of $1.98. An MS60 is worth $3, an MS63 is worth $6, and an MS65 $14. But in the top grades, prices get much steeper, with an MS68 commanding about $390 and MS69 (the highest grade) $2,500.
But those prices do not include the values for coins in which the two lower bands of the torch on the reverse are separated, which are known as Full Bands (FB) or FT (Full Torch). For a basic type coin through the MS66 grade, there is little difference in pricing compared to coins without full details, but in MS67 they are worth $90 (compared to $30 without FB) and in MS68 they are worth $1,650 (compared to $390 without FB).
Similarly, a complete set in MS67 without errors or varieties (of which there are many) runs about 10 times the cost of an MS63 set, or about $3,500. But with FB, it jumps to over $20,000!
Roosevelt Dime Key Dates
The key dates for this series in terms of the lowest mintages include primarily the 1949-S, the 1955, the 1955-D, and the 1955-S.
1949-S is the second-lowest-mintage regular issue coin (with 13.5 million made) after the 1955 (12.5 million), but in Mint State it is the rarest issue apart from special anniversary coins and errors and varieties. In MS67 it is worth $80 but in the top grade of MS68 it jumps to $2,150. With FB, it reaches $850 in MS67 and even more for MS67+.
1955 is $100 in MS67 and reaches $700 with FB. 1955-D and 1955-s have similar mintages of under 20 million each. 1955-D is worth $115 in MS67 and $185 with FB, but an MS68FB is an amazing $7,000! 1955-S is just $45 in MS67 and $1,400 with FB, which shows why it is important to study those details.
The 1996-W is the only Mint State dime with that mintmark and the lowest mintage BU coin of the series with 1,457,000 struck. It was issued as a bonus coin in that year’s mint set of 11 coins to mark the dime’s 50th anniversary. The top grade for this one is MS69, with seven graded by PCGS in that condition worth an estimated $400 each, while an MS67 is worth only about $30. Thousands have been graded in High Mint State, but there must be more MS69s out there waiting to be found!
The only Reverse Proof coin is the 2015-P, with a mintage of 75,000 that was part of the three-coin silver set for the 75th anniversary. This coin is worth $50 in SP69 and $90 in PR70 but sold for more when the sets were first issued.
Most Valuable Roosevelt Dimes
The really valuable coins of this series are the many errors and varieties, which are mostly found among the Proof issues that are missing the mintmarks they should have.
The best-known is the 1968 No-S coin that was part of that year’s clad Proof set, with only 18 Cameo-free examples graded by PCGS and another 14 Proofs certified Cameo. The record is almost $49,000 paid for an MS68 DCAM. Even in Proof 64 and 65, the coin is worth $12,000. Check your 1968 Proof sets!
Other missing mintmarks proofs include the 1970 no-S, the 1975 no-S, the 1982 no-P, and the 1983 no-S. The king of the series is the 1975 no-S with just two known examples – an amazing modern rarity that sold for a record of $456,000 in 2019!
There are also double die coins like the 1960 double die obverse and the reverse doubled dies in 1963 and 1964-D, among others. Condition rarities also make strong showings, with some being worth about $10,000 each in MS68FB.
Yet while the chances of finding these super-rare issues are not high, there may be more examples out there “in the wild”.
Whether you want a basic Mint State set of just the silver coins, a set of Proofs, or both… or perhaps a full graded set of all silver and clad issues including all but the rarest of varieties, there are many different ways to collect and enjoy Roosevelt dimes.