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    

1807 Draped Bust 10 Cents Extremely Fine1828 Capped Bust Dime - Pcgs Xf45 - Small Date1807 Draped Bust Dime Excellent Detail1823/2 Jr-2 R5- Large E's Capped Bust Dime, Pcgs F-15 David Kahn Rare Coins1821 Capped Bust Dime High Grade Uncirculated Gem1811/09 Capped Bust Dime Nice Vg Nice Color Nice Eye Appeal1824 Capped Bust Dime (4 Over 2)1824 Capped Bust Dime! All Original Circulated Coin! See Photos!1811/9 Capped Bust Dime1834 Pcgs Au Details Large 4 Bust Dime (h235)United States 1833 Capped Bust Silver Dime - Nice Early Coin @ No Reserve!1829 Vf Capped Bust Dime!!1837 Capped Bust Dime ** Free Shipping!1820 Capped Bust Dime Pcgs G04 *large O1835 Capped Bust Dime1831 Gem Bu Capped Bust Dime 10c1835 Capped Bust Dime Vf Details1828 Capped Bust Dime A Fine Coin*** Amazing Condition *** 1835 S Capped Bust Dime Silver Us Coin ** No Reserve1820 U.s. Capped Bust Dime - Nice Collectible Condition1836 Capped Bust Dime A Fine Coin1833 Capped Bust Dime! All Original Circulated Coin! See Pics!3 Ag-good Capped Bust Dime, 1830, 1831, 1832, True Auction1833 Capped Bust Dime A Very Good Coin1834 Bust Dime 101837 Capped Bust Dime....................no Reserve!Coa Silver 1785 Colonial Dutch Colonial New York Dime! Utrecht Mint 10 Cent Lion1827 Capped Bust Dime!free Shipping1820 Capped Bust DimeCoa Silver 1770 Colonial Old Dutch Colonial New York Dime Hollandia Lion Dime1834 Capped Bust Dime, Bu Wheat Back Reverse, Wheat Penny Roll1814 Capped Bust Silver Dime - Large Date!1835-p ~ Capped Bust ~ Dime ~ 10 Cents ~ Silver 1835 Capped Bust Quarter F/vf Condition Full Liberty , You Grade ItCoa Silver 1774 Colonial Old Dutch Colonial New York Dime Hollandia Lion Dime1836 Capped Bust Silver Dime. Read!!. Coa Silver 1789 Colonial Dutch Colonial New York Dime! Utrecht Mint 10 Cent LionCoa Silver 1788 Colonial Old Dutch Colonial New York Dime Hollandia Lion Dime1834 Capped Bust Dime! Fantastic Details! See Description And Photos!1832 Ms+++ Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1835 Capped Bust Dime....................no Reserve!Coa Silver 1785 Colonial Dutch Colonial New York Dime! Utrecht Mint 10 Cent Lion4 Genuine Different Silver Capped Bust 10c.1834 Capped Bust Dime (ngc Graded) Original Struck In Good1837 Capped Bust Dime, Tough Coin, ** Free Shipping!1821 Capped Bust Dime A Very Good CoinCoa Silver 1732 Colonial Old Dutch Colonial New York Dime! Zeelandia Mint Lion 1820 U.s. Bust Dime - Solid Ag/g Stk#zf201834 Bust Dime, Ag-g Condition, Only .99 Cents - No Reserve!Coa Silver 1773 Colonial Old Dutch Colonial New York Dime Hollandia Lion DimeCoa Silver 1757 Colonial Old Dutch Colonial New York Dime Hollandia Lion Dime1805 Draped Bust Dime !!!1829 Capped Bust Silver Dime - Large 10 C - Anacs ** Vg8 Details **1832 Capped Bust Dime, 1891 Seated Liberty, Mercury, Barber ˜Us 1821 Large Date Draped Bust Dime, Nice Silver Coin! Rare! 1,186,512 Minted1832 Capped Bust Dime 10c Silver1825 Capped Bust Dime1832 Bust Dime, Good Condition, Only .99 Cents - No Reserve!1833 Very High Grade Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1833 10c Capped Bust Dime