As the Roosevelt dime entered production in 1972, the design had served its statutorily-mandated minimum service life of 25 years. The four-term president was a fitting choice to replace Weinman’s Winged Liberty design in 1946, and sentiment about the longest-serving U.S. president remained high as the generation he led through the Great Depression and World War II entered their later years.
As revered a figure as he was, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration were not beyond criticism. The New Deal saw an enormous increase in the role of the federal government in the lives of Americans. Numismatists might lament his 1933 Executive Order that mandated the recall of millions of gold coins but seen in a broader context, it was the Emergency Banking Act of March 1933 that truly cast the die for the United States to abandon the gold standard.
It was a controversial decision, but necessary given the state of the global economy. By devaluing the dollar, the Roosevelt administration had hoped to raise prices of American goods and reinflate the economy. When Roosevelt marshaled through the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, transferring gold ownership to the Treasury Department, critics felt that the president had swindled the American people.
Were it not for Roosevelt’s steadfast leadership during World War II, historians would have likely had a more divided opinion of the man.
In 1972, the majority of the 90% silver Roosevelt dimes that were manufactured from 1946 through 1964 were no longer passed in the channels of commerce. Not only did the United States Mint sort and remove silver coins in the federal stockpile, but individuals (and likely institutions) behaved as one would expect and removed the more valuable silver dimes from circulation. Quarter dollars suffered the same fate, but silver half dollars, due to their lack of popularity, somehow remained available, tucked away in bags and rolls.
Business strike clad Roosevelt dimes have been minted at Philadelphia every year starting with 1965, and at Denver every year since 1968. The planchets (up until fiscal year 1972) were purchased under contract, after which time the Mint developed the ability to produce its own clad coin strip. Dimes and quarters were the first denominations struck using the mint-made sandwich metal.
Circulation strike dimes produced at the Philadelphia Mint display no mintmark, while circulation strikes produced at Denver will feature a small D stamped above the date centered between the digits 7 and 2.
Nearly all clad Roosevelt dimes are affordable in most states of preservation. Philadelphia produced 431,540,000 Roosevelt dimes in 1972 – a record 2,750,000 of these being included in that year’s Mint Sets. The entire mintage was released into circulation, and it is very likely that a majority of the Mint Sets survive intact.
The strike quality of the 1972 dime was not good. By 1972, the master dies employed to strike dimes had worn down considerably. The Philadelphia Mint also was not known to produce particularly high-quality coins in the ’70s, not when compared to the output of the Denver Mint. The typical 1972 dime will feature weakness in the W in the motto, weakness in the detail of Roosevelt’s hair, and softness on the bands of the torch on the coin’s reverse.
As a result of the inherent quality of dimes struck at Philadelphia, fully-struck examples with Full Bands present on the reverse are seldom encountered. PCGS and NGC population reports tell the story. To date, PCGS has certified 576 examples of the 1972 dime, with only 2.95% earning the FB designation. NGC has graded 130 of the 1972 dimes; 6% of these coins earned the same designation.
It’s important to note that the total number of dimes submitted for this date is in no way indicative of the scarcity of the issue in Mint State from an absolute sense. There are likely thousands of Full Bands 1972 dimes tucked away in rolls and Mint Sets waiting to be found. For some collectors, the thrill of finding your own example and having it certified is a central part of the collecting experience.
The Market for the 1972 Dime
In evaluating the 1972 Roosevelt dime, one must differentiate between raw and certified, full torch bands, and normal strike characteristics.
A 1972 dime that you find circulating in change carries practically no numismatic premium, although an unsuspecting buyer might end up paying a dollar for one on sites like eBay. Coin shops will not carry the date in circulated grades and would not buy them if offered.
For that same dollar, a collector can buy a loose uncirculated example, either from a roll or a Mint Set. Certified examples in Mint State will cost a collector less than it costs to submit the coin to a grading service. Expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a gem example without the FB/FT designation.
As for the seldom-seen FB/FT Gem coins, as there are so few, public auction data is too stale to determine the present market value. An example sold in PCGS MS66FB in 2017 for $423, according to PCGS CoinFacts. GreatCollections has one for sale from the LS Collection; the current bid is $1 with the auction ending on January 23. A coin this scarce could command between $500 and $800.
The top population coin certified at either service is graded MS67+FT. Given the difficulty one would have finding a comparable example in the wild, PCGS CoinFacts’ $2,750 price seems reasonable.
The long-term forecast for modern coins like the 1972 Roosevelt dime is promising. Despite the large mintages, the coins remain affordable to most while classic material requires much greater resources to collect. The popularity of mid-to-late 20th-century material will increase as time goes on. The only caveats that collectors buying conditionally rare coins should take into account are that pricing is both unstable and unpredictable and that populations will rise until the coin’s terminal point is high enough to leave diminishing returns for the submitter.
Too few 1972 dimes have been submitted to reasonably exhaust supply – but this is both an opportunity and a warning sign for the investor collector.
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 1972 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. The mintmark “P” is located at the back of the head between the date and the truncation of Roosevelt’s neck.
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.
The edge of the 1972-P Roosevelt dime is reeded.
John R. Sinnock (1888-1947) served as the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1925 through his death on May 14, 1947. He is responsible for the design of both the Roosevelt dime and the Franklin half dollar.
|Year Of Issue:||1972|
|Denomination:||10 Cents (USD)|
|Mint Mark:||None (Philadelphia)|
|Alloy:||75% Copper, 25% Nickel|
|OBV Designer||John R. Sinnock|
|REV Designer||John R. Sinnock|
|Quality:||Business Strike, Proof|
* * *