The one-tenth of a dollar coin, commonly known as the dime, holds a significant place in American numismatics. Like the half dime, the dime was authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792, and over the years, it has undergone various transformations in design and historical significance. In this detailed exploration, we will delve into the intricate history, specifications, and cultural significance of the dime, ultimately revealing how this small coin has made a big impact in the United States.

Historical Background

The dime’s history can be traced back to the early days of the United States, when the Founding Fathers were shaping the nation’s currency system. The Coinage Act of 1792, signed into law by President George Washington, established the foundation for the country’s coinage, and among the coins it authorized was the dime. At that time, the dime was often referred to as the “disme.”

Physical Characteristics

The physical characteristics of the dime have evolved over the years, but there are certain specifications that have remained relatively consistent. The modern dime weighs 2.268 grams, has a diameter of 17.91 mm, and a thickness of 1.35 mm. Its small size makes it one of the most easily recognizable and commonly used coins in everyday transactions. If you ever find yourself on a game show like Jeopardy, you might want to remember that the edge of the dime features 118 reeds, an interesting tidbit of information that could come in handy.

Design Evolution

The dime has seen numerous design changes throughout its history, reflecting the evolution of American culture, values, and political figures. These designs include:

Draped Bust (1796–1807): The Draped Bust dime featured a profile of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse. This design is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic in American coinage.

Capped Bust (1809–1837): The Capped Bust dime continued to depict Liberty on the obverse, but the reverse featured an updated eagle design.

Seated Liberty (1837–1891): The Seated Liberty dime introduced the image of Lady Liberty seated on a rock, with various modifications over the years.

Barber (1892–1916): The Barber dime, named after its designer Charles E. Barber, featured a conservative and dignified profile of Liberty on the obverse and an intricate wreath on the reverse.

Winged Liberty Head (“Mercury”) (1916–1945): The Mercury dime, despite the name, actually depicts a Winged Liberty head. This design is renowned for its artistry and symbolism, with Liberty wearing a winged cap on the obverse and a fasces, symbolizing unity and strength, on the reverse.