After a 25-year run, the Barber dime was replaced in 1916 by a coin known variously as the Winged Liberty Head, Winged Cap, or Mercury dime. The coin was designed by sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman, with engraving help from George Morgan, the designer of the 1878 Morgan silver dollar.

The dime’s design was the result of an open competition, with much better results than a similar contest attempted in 1892. Weinman actually won two commissions from the U.S. Treasury, one for the dime and another for the Liberty Walking half dollar.

The obverse of Weinman’s dime depicts the head and neck of Lady Liberty, who Weinman modeled after Elsie Stevens, the wife of poet Wallace Stevens. Her winged cap, which resembles a cloche, is supposed to symbolize freedom of thought, so the coin’s association with the mythical Mercury is incorrect.

While the coin’s obverse is routinely misidentified, its reverse probably strikes casual contemporary viewers as unremarkable. At a glance, one sees what appears to be a Roman column backed by olive branches. Upon closer inspection, though, the column turns out to be a bundle of sticks, and there’s an ax blade projecting out from the bundle and facing left. Known as a fasces, this ancient Roman symbol of power was a thinly veiled message to the nation’s enemies in Europe that they could have peace (the olive branches) or a fight (the fasces), but the U.S. was prepared for both.

Mercury dimes, as they are still inaccurately called, were minted through 1945 with only a few interruptions—none were struck in 1922 or 1932. The most desirable dimes are ones whose fasces bands (the three horizontal pairs of straps holding the sticks together) are clearly defined. Denver dimes from 1916 had the lowest mintage, so those dimes tend to cost far more than ones from any other year.

Another sought-after dime is the 2-over-1 overdate from 1942—both the Philadelphia and Denver mints made this error, but the Philly goof is especially pronounced. And if someone offers you a 1923 or 1930 dime minted in Denver? It’s a fake.

After the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, Weinman’s dime was replaced by a new one designed by mint engraver John R. Sinnock. Roosevelt dimes remain in circulation to this day.

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    

1942/41 D Mercury Dime Ngc Vf35! Key Date! No Reserve Auction!1916 D 10c Mercury Silver Dime Certified By Anacs (vg 10 Details)*key Date Coin*1916-d Mercury Dime 10¢- Rare Key Date- Anacs Ag-3 Details- Damaged Tooled1923-s Mercury Dime, Nice Earlier Date! ** Free Shipping!Complete Set Of 76 Silver Mercury Dimes In Whitman Folder Only Missing 1916-d1942/41 Mercury Dime Ngc Au55! Key Date! No Reserve Auction!1942/41-d Mercury Dime Ngc F 121916 Mercury Dime, Full Split Bands ** Solid Gem Bu Fsb! ** Free Shipping!Mercury Dime Set 1916-1945 ~ 77/78 Coins **almost Complete1921-d Mercury Dime! Good! No Reserve Auction! 36**rare** Ms-66fb 1919-p Mercury Dime Pcgs Rainbow Colored Valued At $21001921 D Mercury Dime U-grade-it! 119 Mercury Silver Dimes1916-d Mercury 10 Cents Good+Mercury Dime Set In Whitman Folder---complete Minus 1916-d1945 S Micro Mercury Dime 10c Anacs Ms 661916-d Mercury Dime In Good1921 D 10c Mercury Dime Pcgs F 121924-s Mercury Dime ** Free Shipping!1916-d 10c Mercury Dime Pcgs Genuine Graffiti Good Details Silver Coin Sku 62621926-s Mercury Dime Coin (xf-au) On Silver-copper1936-s Pcgs Mercury Dime Ms64 Full BandsUncirculated 1926 Philadelphia Mint Silver Mercury Dime Free ShippingOne Thousand (1000) Mercury Silver Dimes.. Au/bu$5 Roll 50 Coin Lot 1935-1945 Mercury Dimes P, D & S Estate Collection1919 Winged Liberty Head Mercury Dime 10 Cents Pcgs Ms 63 FbFull Roll Of 50 Silver Mercury Dimes G To Au 1916 Mercury Dime Icg Ms-65 Full BandsDealers Lot Of One Hundred (100) Mercury Dimes - No Reserve1927 Silver Mercury Dime Ms65fb Ms 65 Fb Pcgs $410 Certified #32019433 Free Ship1916-1945 P/d/s Mercury Silver Dime 60-coin Set W/ Bu Dates1916-d Mercury Dime // Key Date! // 90% Silver // (md339)1921 D Mercury Dime A Good Coin1917 Winged Liberty Head Mercury Dime 10 Cents Pcgs Ms 64 Fb1929 Pcgs Mercury Dime Ms64Circulated 1931-d Denver Mint Silver Mercury Dime Free ShippingKey Date 1921-p Mercury Dime Vg-f Condition1916-d 10c Fb Mercury Dime 1921-d Mercury 10 Cents Icg Ag03 Details1916-d Mercury Dime: Anacs G6-early Anacs Smaller Slab-probably 1990 After Amos!Complete Mercury Dime Set, 76 Coins Missing Only 1916d,includes 1921 P, D!Rare 1916-d Silver Mercury Dime - Grades "about Good" 1942-d Mercury Dime Pcgs Ms67+fb Cac Rainbow Toned~colorful Toning~colorMint State War Time Mercury Dime Set 1941-1945 15 Coins Capitol Plastic Holder1942/1 Mercury 10 Cents Brilliant UncirculatedAn Easy Gem 1916 Mercury Dime Pcgs Ms 64 Fb Full Split Bands Cac1936-s Pcgs Mercury Dime, Full Split Bands, Pcgs Ms 65 Fb ** Free Shipping!1939 10c Mercury Dime Pcgs & Cac Ms671916 Winged Liberty Head Mercury Dime 10 Cents Pcgs Ms 64 Fb1944 D Pcgs Ms65fb Gem Colorful Toned Full Bands Mercury Dime.1916 Mercury Dime, Fsb * Stunning Solid Gem First Year Issue! * Full Split Bands1938-d Mercury Dime, Full Split Bands! ** Great Strike Definition! Bulk Lot Of 542 Mercury Dimes 90% Silver United States Coins CirculatedComplete Set Mercury Dimes 1916-1945Roll 1944 Mercury Silver Dimes... Ch/gem BuRoll 1941-d Mercury Silver Dimes.. Ch/gem Bu2 Rolls 100 Coins $10 Face Mercury Dimes 90% U.s.silver Mix Dates No Reserve$5 Roll 50 Coin Lot 1940's Mercury Dimes Lot/bulk: (25) 90% Silver Mercury Dimes, Mixed Dates - No Reserve1940-s Pcgs Mercury Dime Pcgs Ms 66 ** Free Shipping!