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.
In 1798, the small eagle was replaced by a larger eagle with the Union
Shield across its breast. This "Heraldic Eagle"
met with more favor from the public, for it presented a much more
powerful symbol of the United States.
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
Overdate Example: 1798 8/7
The 1798 8 over 7 is a typical overdate found in early US
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
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.
The Capped Bust dime was finally discontinued in 1837. Together, with
the Draped Bust dime, United States numismatists have categorized these
types as the "Early Dimes."
Draped Bust dimes are all relatively rare, costing at least hundreds of
dollars for an example in heavily worn condition. They've all
advanced fairly consistently in value over time, but the 1796 first
year issue and the 1798/97 13 stars variety seem to edge out the others
in performance. A collector really can't go wrong by acquiring these or
any other Draped Bust dime, just don't expect any explosive growth
headline news anytime soon. The Capped Bust series has a couple of
scarcities, but our research shows these to be sluggish movers, and
should be avoided if strong prices surges is your objective. There are
plenty of other exciting coins from America's past with better
prospects of appreciation to target.
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.
Key date Early Dimes are offered for sale below as eBay auction coins.
The left hand side of each "Sales Box" is value trend data over a very
long period of time for the dime in G-4 condition. The percent annual
increase is computed for comparative purposes. The coin pictured
for sale in the right hand side is not necessarily the same condition
coin as that represented in the value trend analysis on left hand side.
Draped Bust Dime
|% Annual Increase
Draped Bust Dime
|% Annual Increase