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    

1916-d Denver Mint Silver Mercury Dime Free Shipping1916-d 10c Mercury Dime Fine Plus/very Fine Key To The Series Tough Find Rare!1916 D 1916 1921 Mercury Dime Key Date 10 Cent 90% Silver Coins Old Collection1916-d Mercury Silver Dime Icg Ms61Key Date 1916 D Mercury Dime Pcgs Ag3 About Good Condition1916-d Mercury Dime, Super Strong Bands, Highly Coveted Choice Au++/unc Key Date19 Mercury Silver Dimes1916-1945 Mercury Dimes, Complete 77-coin Set, Incl All Keys, ** Free Shipping!1916-d Mercury Dime, Highly Regarded Ultra Rare Key Date, ** Free Shipping!Roll 1936-d Mercury Silver Dimes.. Ch/gem BuMercury Dime Set Complete 1916-1945-s (less 1916-d) G-xf 76 Coins, No Reserve!1916-d Mercury Dime, Highly Coveted Rare Key Date, ** Free Shipping!1919 Mercury Dime1926-s Mercury Dime 10¢- Key Date- Vf1916-d Mercury Dime - Pcgs G06 - The Key Date!1916 D Mercury Dime *okay Coin*1921-d 10c Mercury Dime Key Date Vg Condition Lot#34Nearly Complete Set Of Circulated Mercury Dimes 1916-1945 In Whitman FolderUnsearched Silver Mercury Dime Roll - 1927 & 1917 Mercury Dime Ends Mr393Nearly Complete Set Of Circulated Mercury Dimes 1916-1945 In Whitman Folder1921-d Mercury Dime, Scarce Date In Series ** Free Shipping!Unsearched Silver Mercury Dime Roll - 1938 & 1923 Mercury Dime Ends Mr771Lot Of 50 Mixed Mercury Dimes ~ 1917 To 19451916 - 1945 Mercury Dime Coin Set In Whitman Blue Book Mercury Dime Set 1916-1931 Lot Of 28 Better Early Silver Coins In Album, No Res!1916 Mercury Dime, First Year Date1916-d Mercury Dime Fine Details Ngc... No Reserve!1942/1 Mercury Dime, Collectors Favorite Xf++ Rare Key Date Mint Error, Free S/h1942/1 Mercury Dime1921-d Mercury Dime 10¢ Rare Key Date- Good+1921-d Us Mercury Dime1921-d Denver Mint Silver Mercury Dime Free Shipping1921-d Mercury Dime Better Key Date*** 1921 D Mercury Dime ***1931 Mercury Dime, Gem Bu Blazer ** Free Shipping!1921-d Mercury Dime Silver CoinRoll 1940 Mercury Silver Dimes.. Ch/gem Bu1942/1 Mercury Silver Dime - Graded Vf 30 By Pcgs *** Key Date *** No Reserve50-mercury Dimes Lot * 47 Are Different, 3 Duplicates 1945-s (micro "s") Mercury Dime - Ms67+ Pcgs/cac1916-s Mercury Dime ** Free Shipping!Spectacular Pq 1939 S Fsb Gem Bu Us Mercury Dime Collection .900 Silver Coin(200) Mercury Dime Lot // Low Grade // 200 Coins - 4 Rolls // 90% Silver (ml091)Nearly Complete Set Of Circulated Mercury Dimes 1916-1945 In Whitman Folder1921-d 10c Mercury Dime Pcgs F12Rare Pcgs Certified 1916-d Silver Mercury Dime … Grades “fair 02” 1945 P Mercury Dime Original Uncirculated Roll (50) Nice! 90% SilverFull Roll Of 50 Silver Mercury Dimes G To Au 1939 Ngc Mercury Dime Ngc Ms 67+ * Outstanding Super Pq Blazer, Tough This Nice!1938-d Ngc Mercury Dime, Full Split Bands, Ngc Ms 66 Fb ** Free Shipping!1921 D Mercury Silver Dime Ngc Vf30 Key Date 1921-d Mercury Dime Vg Coin Is Not Cleaned1921-d Pcgs G04 10c Mercury Dime. 1917-d Mercury Dime, Very Lustrous Gem Bu++ Better Date, ** Free Shipping!1916 Mercury Dime ~ High Grade ~ Fsb1921-p 1921 Philadelphia Key Date Mercury Dime1940-s Ms 64-fb Old Green Pcgs Holder-blast White1917-s 10c Ms66+ (plus) Fb Mercury Dime Cac1945 D Bu Roll Mercurys1938 Proof Mercury Dime ~ Unc ~ Fsb