By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation …..
At first glance the 2016-W Mercury Dime coins are very invocative of the classic 1916-D Mercury Dime. The coins will be nearly the exact size of the vintage Mercury Dime and contain 1/10 oz. of .9999 fine (24 karat) gold.
To my complete surprise when walking past the United States Mint booth in Baltimore, Maryland, last week I spotted an example of the new 2016-W Mercury Dime. The only images of the coin I had seen so far have been digitally altered 1916 Mercury Dimes. The pictures were also artificially colored to simulate the gold content. I am amazed at how true to the original design the new version appears. The coins tout the “W” West Point mintmark, and at first glance the coins are very evocative of the classic 1916-D Mercury Dime. Seeing a reimagining of this popular coin so beautifully reproduced was quite the experience. I wanted to buy one then and there!
Unfortunately, the coins were not on sale during the Baltimore Whitman Expo. The coins will go on sale April 21 on the United States Mint website The announced mintage for the 2016-W Mercury Dime is 120,000 coins. The coins will probably be sold with a household limit on the number of coins available to each person. That information has not been decided or released as of today. Although this mintage is higher than several recent Mint products, the coins will probably sell out fairly quickly. Buyers should be prepared in advance by setting up your US Mint account with current credit card and shipping information. The US Mint website has been upgraded recently and has received positive reviews for efficiency.
The price for the 2016-W Mercury Dime has not been set at this point. Representatives of the Mint told me the prices would be established on the Wednesday before the coins go on sale based on current gold bullion prices. The coins will be nearly the exact size of the vintage Mercury Dime and contain 1/10 oz. of .9999 fine (24 karat) gold. The Mint currently charges $175 for Proof United States gold eagles of the same size. The 2016-W Mercury Dime will probably sell for about the same price. The lower price points for the initial launch of the Centennial gold series will be a strong attraction for collectors.
The Dime became eligible for a new design in 1916 and a competition was held to determine the artist. The winner was Adolph Weinman (his Walking Liberty Half Dollar design was a winner, as well).
Weinman’s design features Miss Liberty wearing a winged cap, which was mistaken immediately for the Greek god Hermes, or the Roman god Mercury. Mercury was the god of trade and commerce, which might be an appropriate fit for the Dime. The nickname has stuck and the Mercury Head Dime remains one of the most popular of all US coin types.
The central design element on the reverse is a fasces with a large olive branch wrapped around it. The fasces, an ax tied to a bundle of rods, was carried by Roman officials as a symbol of authority. The reverse was also intended to represent America’s military readiness and its desire for peace.
Mercury Head Dimes were produced at the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints. Mintages were huge—a record of more than 231 million dimes was set in 1944. The only low mintage date in the series is the 1916-D Dime, which remains one of the most elusive and desirable coins of the type.
Proof coins were produced from 1936 to 1942, when the demand for military medals became the foremost priority at the Mint. No 1916 Matte Proof Dimes were made, despite the fact that Proof cents and nickels were made that year. Interesting varieties include the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D Overdates and the 1945-S Dime with a microscopic mintmark.
This type is readily available in Gem and Superb Uncirculated condition. 1944 is the most common issue. The most desirable coins are those with Full Split Bands (clearly separated horizontal bands on the fasces).
Many speculate that the new issues will stimulate demand for the vintage silver coins of the series. Mercury Dimes are one of the most popular and widely collected coins of the 20th century. Hopefully anyone who purchases the 2016 gold version will be tempted to explore this interesting series. Later this year the US Mint will issue the next coin in the Centennial series, the 2016-W Standing Liberty Quarter. This will be a fascinating coin to see in the new format. More on that coin when information is available.
About Jeff Garrett
Jeff Garrett, founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in U.S. coinage — and knowledge lies at the foundation of Jeff’s numismatic career. With more than 35 years of experience, he is one of the top experts in numismatics. The “experts’ expert,” Jeff has personally bought and sold nearly every U.S. coin ever issued. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call on Jeff Garrett for numismatic advice. This includes many of the nation’s largest coin dealers, publishers, museums and institutions.
In addition to owning and operating Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Jeff Garrett is a major shareholder in Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries. His combined annual sales in rare coins and precious metals — between Mid-American in Kentucky and Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries in Florida — total more than $25 million.
Jeff Garrett has authored many of today’s most popular numismatic books, including Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795–1933: Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues; 100 Greatest U.S. Coins; and United States Coinage: A Study By Type. He is also the price editor for The Official Redbook: A Guide Book of United States Coins.
Jeff was also one of the original coin graders for the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He is today considered one of the country’s best coin graders and was the winner of the 2005 PCGS World Series of Grading. Today, he serves as a consultant to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the world’s largest coin grading company.
Jeff plays an important role at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Department and serves as consultant to the museum on funding, exhibits, conservation and research. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff and many others, rare U.S. coins are once again on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. We urge everyone who visits Washington, D.C., to view this fabulous display.
Jeff has been a member of the prestigious Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. In 2009 and 2011, Jeff ran successfully for a seat on the Board of Governors for the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the leading numismatic club in the world. and he is currently the ANA President.