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    

1809 10c Jr-1 Capped Bust Dime Ngc Fair Details Rev Scratched1834 Capped Bust 10 Cents Nice Unc Proof Like With Rainbow Toning Rare!!1831 Capped Bust Dime 10c - Pcgs Xf45 Certified & Graded1821 Jr-6 Ld Capped Bust Dime, Pcgs Vf-25, Crusty Orig (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)1831 Retained Cud 10c Anacs Vg 8 Capped Bust Dime Interesting Variety Jr-51828 Capped Bust Dime - 10 Cents - Better Grade Example - 1807 Draped Bust Dime 100% Original Jr 1 Ngc Excellent Strike Scarce Early DateHeraldic Eagle Reverse Draped Bust Dime1829 .10c Capped Bust Silver Ten Cent Dime ~ Free Shipping1820 Capped Bust Dime1836 Capped Liberty Head Dime - 10 Cents - Higher Grade Example - 1833 Capped Bust Dime 'high 3' Excellent Strike Scarce Early Tyep Coin 1835 10c Capped Bust Dime1827 Capped Bust Dime Pcgs Ag 03; Nice Original Coin 1934 Bust Dime1834 Capped Bust Dime (ngc Graded) Original Struck In Good1835 Silver Capped Bust Dime Coin 1835 Capped Bust Dime #181828 Capped Bust Dime Small Date No Reserve1835 Capped Bust 10 Cents Silver Dime Coin #9jj1832 Silver Capped Bust Dime Coin - 1821 Capped Bust Dime Pcgs G 6 Jr 6 Large Date Good To Very Good Jr-6 A11829 Bust Dime Free Shipping1827 G-ag And 1829 G-ag Bust Dime 1820's Capped Bust Dime Love Token! 1830 Capped Bust Dime & Holed! Old Us Coins!1835 10c Capped Bust Dime Ag /a-1271835 Capped Bust Dime Pcgs F 15 Jr 4 Original Fine To Very Fine Jr-4 A21832 Bust Dime 101834 Bust Dime 10Lot Of 2 1833 & 1821 Capped Bust Silver Dime (es1829 And 1830/29? Capped Bust Dimes.1834 Capped Bust Dime 10 Cents Silver Coin #39jj1832 Bust Dime1823/2 10 Cents 3 Over 2 Capped Bust United States Silver Dime 440,000 Minted1835 Capped Bust Dime Pcgs Vg 10 Jr 1 Very Good To Fine Variety Jr-1 Us Coin A31827 10c Capped Bust Dime1829 With Liberty Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1820 Capped Bust Dime...decent Old Dime***low Mintage***1835 10c Capped Bust Dime1833 Bust Half Dime Free Shipping1834 Capped Bust Silver Dime (gs1832 Capped Bust Dime 101827 10c Capped Bust Dime1837 Silver Capped Bust Dime Coin 1830 Silver Capped Bust Dime Coin - 1833 Silver Capped Bust Dime Coin - Mint Error Rotated Die1830 Bust Dime Free Shipping1821 Capped Bust Dime, Small Date, ** Free Shipping!1836 Bust Dime Decent Low-mid Grade Coin With Some Old Scratches On Bust1837 Rare Key Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1832 Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1835 Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1835 Capped Bust Dime Vg-f.....great Old Silver Coin1833 Capped Bust Dime, Decent Vg-fine, True Auction, No Reserve1835 Capped Bust Dime1834 Rare Large 4 Capped Bust Dime From Big Collection1832 Bust Dime 1837 Bust Dime Love Token! Pictorial Leaf! Acr Initials...1829 Capped Bust Dime Love Token!