Although the United States Congress approved a decimal system for its coinage in 1786, the linchpin denomination, the dime or disme, as it was named in the Coinage Act of 1792, was not minted until 1796. This first U.S. dime, known as the Draped Bust, was designed by mint engravers Robert Scot and John Eckstein, who took their Lady Liberty from a drawing by artist Gilbert Stuart. All silver coins of 1796, including half dimes, quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars, featured the same obverse and reverse.

When the coin was first struck, it didn’t include its denomination on either face (its size was supposed to be the clue). Instead, the coin’s obverse featured the Liberty bust surrounded by 15 stars, one for each state at the time. On the reverse was a rather scrawny eagle bearing a wreath—in 1798, a healthier-looking heraldic bird was substituted for the skinnier one.

Though the mintages of 1796 and 1797 were virtually the same, coins from the second year tend to be more prized by collectors. That’s because mint officials couldn’t quite make up their minds about how many stars to place on the coin’s obverse.

The confusion was caused when Tennessee was granted statehood midway through 1796; for the first run of 1797 coins, the number of stars on the dime was increased by one. But cooler heads quickly realized that this practice was not, as they say today, scalable, so the number of stars on the second batch of 1797 dimes was reduced to 13, the number of original U.S. states.

Another star anomaly occurred in 1804, when the number of stars on the coin’s reverse varied from 13 to 14. That combined with a low mintage of a little more than 8,000 coins makes 1804 dimes some of the rarest around.

Dime production halted in 1806 and again in 1808 before a new Capped Bust, designed by mint engraver John Reich was released in 1809. Based on the design Reich created for the half dollar in 1807, this new version of Liberty faced left instead of right and sported a cap with the word “LIBERTY” across its brim. In addition, "10C" was stamped on the bottom of the coin’s reverse, above which perched yet another version of a heraldic eagle.

As with the Draped Bust dimes, Capped Bust dimes were not always produced in consecutive years. Missing are coins from 1810, 1812-1813, and 1815-1819. Perhaps the most noteworthy...

The Capped Bust dime’s design was modified somewhat in 1828, mostly due to the introduction of new equipment and mechanical procedures at the mint. And the dime’s design was replaced entirely in 1837 by Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated dime, which was minted until 1891.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1837 Jr-2 Capped Bust Dime, Pcgs Au58, Ex Schenkel 1990 Davidkahnrarecoins1835 Capped Bust Silver 10 Cents About Uncirculated Scarce!1831 Jr-4 Capped Bust Dime, Pcgs Xf45, Superb Antique Patina Davidkahnrarecoins1807 Draped Bust Dime Fairly Strong Detail1807 Draped Bust Dime1832 Bust Dime Lustrous High Grade1835 Liberty Bust Dime1828 Capped Bust Dime Small Date, Square Base 2 Variety High Grade Sharp Details1832 Philadelphia Mint Silver Capped Bust Dime Free Shipping1829 Capped Bust Dime - Fn - 5 Coin Silver Lot - 1912 Barber - Authentic 1834 Capped Bust 90% Silver Dime Fine Condition1837 10c Capped Bust Silver Dime1829 Capped Bust Dime Jr11 10 Cent Ngc Graded Vg Details From Old Collection Lot1830 Silver Dime Us Coin1827 Capped Bust Silver Dime Pointed Top 10c Free Shipping1827 Capped Bust Dime1835 Capped Bust Dime1837 Capped Bust Dime Low Mintage 359,500 Rare Last Year No Reserve Free Ship1833 10c Capped Bust Silver Dime1836 Capped Bust Silver Dime W/fine Details - Damaged1823 Capped Bust Dime1835 10c Capped Bust Silver DimeThree Low Grade Capped Bust 10c 1830 10c Capped Bust Dime, Ngc G06, Modified Design1837 Capped Bust United States Silver Dime 10c Free ShippingGorgeous 1820 Capped Bust Dime 10c Pa341820 Large "o" Capped Bust Dime 90% Silver 10-cents1835 Silver Capped Bust Dime And Free Shipping1833 Capped Bust Dime- Semi-key !! Better Date !! #o11751836 Capped Bust Dime Vg Condition Old Type Silver 1825 10c Capped Bust Dime, Ngc Ag3, Wide Border1836 Capped Bust Dime1823/2 Over Date Capped Bust Dime 90% Silver 10-cents Filler Coin1850 2 1/2 Gold, Xf45, Pcgs1834 Capped Bust Dime 10c Silver Us Coin *56451820 Capped Bust Silver Dime Davis Reich Variety1836 & 1837 Capped Bust Silver Dimes1829 Capped Bust Dime Ag - G1834 Capped Bust Dime1814 10c Jr-4 Large Date Capped Bust Dime1831 Dime, Deplorable Condition1834 Philadelphia Mint Silver Capped Bust Dime Free Shipping1836 Bust Dime Vg Original 1831 Capped Bust Silver Dime Cull Condition (p37)1824 Capped Bust Dime1852-o 2 1/2 Gold, Au 53, Pcgs1830 Capped Bust Dime 10 Cents Silver Us Coin As Shown *64581832 Capped Bust Dime- Semi Key !! Better Date !! #o9171821 Large Date Rare Full Liberty Capped Bust Dime1835 Capped Bust Dime- Semi-key !! Better Date !! #o11791821 Liberty Cap Dime--large Date--circulated1829 Capped Bust Dime- Semi Key !! Better Date !! #o9071831 Capped Bust Dime- Semi Key !! Better Date !! #o9111833 Capped Bust Dime- Semi-key !! Better Date !! #o11761830 Capped Bust Dime- Semi-key !! Better Date !! #o11741829 Capped Bust Dime 90% Silver 10-cents Filler Coin1833 Capped Bust Dime 90% Silver 10-cents Coin1830 Capped Bust Dime - Liberty And The Motto Are Still Both ReadableUs Bust Dime 1836 Lotdec26631829 10c Capped Bust Dime