By CoinWeek ….
A Full Band, high Mint State 1949-S Roosevelt dime is one of the hardest coins in the Roosevelt silver series to collect, and an example that sold at GreatCollections.com on August 2 stands as proof of that statement. The sole top pop PCGS MS-68, which also happens to be a toner, went for the astounding price of $10,500 USD—$11,812.50 with buyer’s premium–after 30 bids.
Excluding Proofs, the 1949-S dime has the second-lowest mintage of the silver Roosevelt series behind the 1955 struck in Philadelphia: 13,510,000 versus 12,450,181. To further demonstrate the company the 1949-S keeps, the next lowest mintage is the 1955-D, at 13,959,000 pieces struck.
A condition rarity, prices begin to increase in higher circulated grades and really take off in high Mint State. As stated above, this is the only example certified as PCGS MS-68 Full Band (FB), and there are no auction records listed prior to this result. For comparison, PCGS reports 12 pieces graded MS-67+ FB, 16 certified at MS-67 FB, and 50 graded MS-66 FB. Auction records for PCGS MS-67+ Full Band specimens over the last seven years average to around $2,900; records for Full Band PCGS MS-67s over the same timeframe average to around $1,600.
Rainbow toning around the rim on the obverse completes the trifecta for Roosevelt silver dime eye appeal.
For more auction results, you can also search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.
A Brief History of the Silver Roosevelt Dime
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president of the United States during both the Great Depression (approximately 1929-1939) and most of World War II (starting on December 7, 1941). When he died early in his fourth term on April 12, 1945, he was mourned not only by the generations of Americans who had lived through those times but also by much of the free world. In response to this great outpouring of sentiment, Treasury Department officials proposed that FDR’s portrait be placed on a circulating coin. U.S. coins that were eligible for change at that time were the cent, the dime, and the half dollar.
The March of Dimes campaign to raise funds for polio research and victim care had started during Roosevelt’s first term, and because it was believed then that the president had suffered from polio (recent research suggests otherwise), the selection of the dime seemed appropriate and fortuitous. The Federal Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) rejected Chief Engraver John Sinnock’s initial designs, instead recommending an invitational competition. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross, however, 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 changes to his design to appease the Commission but controversy shadowed his efforts. The Cold War that followed WWII heightened public fears about communism and the Soviet Union, and a rumor spread that Sinnock’s initials “JS”, appearing under Roosevelt’s profile, referred somehow to Joseph Stalin.
Another, more credible criticism was that Sinnock had copied Roosevelt’s profile from a plaque created by African-American sculptor Selma Burke. However, a comparison reveals that though the profiles are similar they are not identical. Burke’s portrait is more elongated and gaunt contrasted with Sinnock’s rounder, more robust portrait.
90% silver dimes were struck for circulation every year from 1946 to 1964. Additionally, silver Proofs were struck from 1950 through 1964. The denomination was switched to a clad composition in coins dated 1965, and silver Proofs made according to the pre-clad standards have been produced in San Francisco since 1992.
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.
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 mintmarks are placed at the left of the base of the torch.
The edge is reeded.
Silver Roosevelt Dimes on the Market
Most silver Roosevelt dimes are common to very common in circulated grades, with low prices for nearly all dates – though some Premium and Superb Gems are expensive. Prices are higher for the 1946 DDO, the 1947-S DDR, the 1949, the 1949-S, the 1950-S, the 1950-S/D, and the 1964SMS (Special Mint Set) coins, the last considerably more so.
Proofs were minted from 1950 through the end of the series and are available in grades up to and including PR70 for many dates. Cameo and Deep Cameo coins are identified and command higher prices, though still moderate until Premium and Superb Gem grades.