Over a century old, the 1916 Mercury dime is one of the more valuable coins you could potentially find down the back of your couch. Originally named the Winged Liberty, the dimes are 90% silver.
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Depending on the mint mark, they could be worth a small fortune at auction, and that includes beaten up coins that have clearly seen better years.
Here’s a rundown of the types, values, and everything else you need to know about the 1916 Mercury dime, along with a buyer’s guide at the bottom.
1916 Dime: Mint Types
After a 25-year period, 1916 saw the end of the old Barber dime series and the introduction of Mercury dimes. It makes it especially popular with coin collectors.
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There is a trio of 1916 Mercury dimes to watch out for. Each was minted in a separate location in the US and was also given a mint mark to distinguish exactly where it came from.
As you’ll see below, the location is the key to price, mainly due to scarcity in the present day. We’ll begin with the unminted version, which is also the least scarce coin overall.
1916 Mercury Dime
With 22,180,000 of these coins produced in 1916, the version of the Mercury dime with no mint mark is especially plentiful. These were made in Philadelphia, and you’ll be able to tell by checking out the back. Unlike the others, it’s pretty affordable, although it’s worth more than its weight in silver.
1916 D Mercury Dime
The 1916-D Mercury dime struck at the Denver Mint, is the key date of the series, with a mintage of 264,000 pieces. You can check the version as it is identified by a “D” mintmark found on the reverse. It’s by far the most valuable of the trio, purely due to rarity. Over 250k might sound like a lot, but that was back in 1916, and that’s before accounting for all of the coins that were lost or destroyed along the way.
(For example, the 264,000 pieces could have been pressed in a single day with multiple machines, so they held back for a reason, which is unclear almost 100 years later.)
It’s one of the more important dimes for collectors and can sell for up to five figures when found in better condition.
1916 S Mercury Dime
San Francisco used an “S” mintmark which is also found on the reverse, and 10,450,000 were made back in 1916. It’s nowhere near as rare as the Denver version, but it does offer a good mix of affordability and rarity compared to the others.
A report from 1916 noted that San Francisco dimes were lower in quality compared to the others, with many weakly struck in the lower band of the fasces, as well as displaying the weakness at the center horizontal bands. This has also helped prices to rise in recent years.
1916 Dime: Values
Aside from the mint mark and the amount produced, the condition of the coin is the main factor when deciding on the overall value. For example, the D Mercury Dime in certified mint state (MS+) condition can fetch as much as $41,000 at auction. Even scuffed versions can earn a decent price, and it vastly exceeds either the S or the unminted coin.
In comparison, the S in certified mint state (MS+) condition is worth roughly $500 at auction.
1916 Dime: Information
The US Treasury Department held a competition to select a winning motif for the 1916 dime. Designs by German-born sculptor Adolph A. Weinman were selected for the dime and the half dollar.
The first of its type back in 1916, the Mint took the time to discuss how they’d come up with the features of the coin;
“The design of the dime is simple. Liberty with a winged cap is shown on the obverse and on the reverse is a design of a bundle of rods, and a battle-ax, symbolic of unity, ‘Wherein Lies the Nation’s Strength.”
Many of the coins weren’t struck especially well, leading to fewer numbers in the present day.
It’s not to be confused with the Barber dime, which was also released in 1916 and comes in two versions, depending on where it was minted. They’re worth between $400-$500 in certified mint state (MS+) condition, and can easily be distinguished from the 1916 Winged Liberty as they have a completely different design.
1916 Dime: Buyers Guide
Investment Rating: Strong Buy (5 out of 5)
Ownership Disclosure: None
Best 1916 Dime: 1916-D Mercury
As you can see from the numbers shown above, both the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints coined fairly large quantities of the new dimes during the final months of 1916. In comparison, the Denver tally likely represents a day’s work, and it’s worth a lot more if you’re hoping to complete the set.
There were also issues with the San Francisco coins, with many produced with clear flaws due to issues concerning the minting process. Armed with that knowledge, it’s easy to understand the different values attributed to the coins in the present day.
Over 100 years on, it’s had a significant impact on prices, and that’s without considering that the coin was the first of its kind to be produced with the new design. It’s an important piece for hobbyists and collectors, and one that should retain value in coming years.