The first United States 10-cent coins, or dimes,
were minted in 1796.
The word "dime" is from the French word "disme", meaning "decimal" The
Draped Bust design was first employed on the dime, as it was the
standard for all silver coins beginning that year. For a couple of
years, a smallish eagle atop a cloud was depicted on the reverse.
The number of stars on the reverse created several varieties of the Draped Bust dime. The plan at first was to add another star for every new state joining the Union, but by the time the 16th star was added, the field had become so crowded, that Mint Director Elias Boudinot limited the number of stars to 13, representing the number of original colonies. Production of the Draped Bust dime continued until 1807.
Overdate Example: 1798 8/7
The 1798 8 over 7 is a typical overdate found in early US coinage. An overdate is defined as an impression made by superimposing another date (i.e. year) digit over a date digit of a die used in an earlier year. The result is a coin bearing the “new” date, but under close examination, the “old” date is faintly visible. Overdates were relatively common at the first US Mint because of the scarcity of coining resources. Thus, workable dies left over from a previous year were often overdated for use the following year.
No dimes were minted in 1808. The following
year, the Capped Bust design was
introduced. There are many overdates and other varieties to study, many
of them available in plentiful quantities. In 1828, new technology was
implemented at the Mint to create edge reeding during the striking
action, while utilizing thicker, smaller diameter planchets. The
results were improved diameter consistency and higher productivity, as
the tedious job of manually applying the reeding was eliminated.
Another benefit was that the coins were easier to stack.
As always, don't buy Early Dimes unless they've
been certified by PCGS,
NGC, ANACS, or ICG, or are being
sold by a reputable dealer.
Return to our U.S. Coin Types Menu