Shortly after Franklin Roosevelt's death in 1945, it was decided that he would be honored with his image on a U.S. coin. Dimes were chosen and U.S. Mint engraver John Sinnock quickly designed a coin to be released in concert with a 1946 March of Dimes fundraiser (Roosevelt, who had Polio, had founded the March of Dimes).
The same design with a profile bust of Roosevelt on the obverse has been used ever since, with only minor tweaking of the location of the mintmark. However, when the coin was first produced, it was made out of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. After the “coin shortage” of the early 1960s, a clad coin comprised of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel was released in 1965. Surprisingly, the old Roosevelt dimes containing silver are not necessarily more collectible than the later ones.
An interesting controversy surrounding the Roosevelt dime concerned the presence of the engraver’s initials, J.S., on the obverse. Roosevelt opponents and others darkly claimed this stood for Communist leader Josef Stalin and not John Sinnock. The Mint vehemently defended its engraver and the initials remain on Roosevelt dimes to this day.
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