Plans to issue the Roosevelt Dime began soon
after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945, to
inspirational leadership throughout the Great Depression and World War
The ten-cent piece seemed most appropriate to honor Roosevelt, because
of his close involvement in the March of Dimes campaign, a charity
organized to fight polio, an affliction under which the late president
Mint Engraver John Sinnock was tapped to model
the new Roosevelt Dime.
His initial submissions and subsequent revisions were rejected by the
Commission of Fine Arts.
Instead, the Commission suggested a
competition between America’s leading artists, in a manner similar to
US coin design selection that had been in place ever since 1916.
Director Nellie Tayloe Ross declined the
Commission’s proposal, for the new dime had to be ready for circulation
prior to the 1946 March of Dimes fundraiser kicked off on January 30,
Sinnock conferred with Lee Lawrie, the sculptor member of the
Commission, to again revise the model. The word LIBERTY on the obverse
was moved from the top center to the left, allowing a lengthening of
the head, plus some of FDR’s wrinkles were softened. The reverse
carried a torch in the center, with an olive branch to the left and an
oak branch to the right. These features symbolized freedom, peace, and
The Death of FDR
Worn out by the heavy burdens of his office, President
Franklin Roosevelt went to rest at Warm Springs, GA, where on April 12,
1945, he died of a brain hemorrhage. News of his death shocked
the nation. For millions of young men in the military, FDR was
the only president they ever really knew. Monumental
decisions on how to bring WWII to a close and the restructuring of the
post-war world fell to his successor, Harry S Truman.
Fair use under US copyright law
On January 8, 1946, Treasury Secretary Fred
Vinson gave final approval
of the Roosevelt Dime. Director Ross ordered swift fabrication of the
hubs and dies to begin production at the earliest possible moment. The
Mint did in fact meet its target date of January 30, but just barely.
When the first Roosevelt dimes reached the public, there were
persistent rumors that Sinnock’s initials, JS, actually belonged to the
dictator of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin. In the early days of the
Cold War, many Americans were quick to conjure up diabolical
conspiracies from normally innocuous events. When public outrage
intensified, the Mint was forced to publish an official denial that
communist agents had infiltrated its operation.
The closest thing to a key date Roosevelt Dime is the 1949-S. It is the
only member of this series having a clear numismatic premium in
circulated grades above and beyond its intrinsic bullion content. With
a mintage of just over 13.3 million pieces, it’s difficult to view the
1949-S a rarity, though undoubtedly a fair share of the original
mintage perished in the melting pot during the mad silver rush of
1979-80. What’s more, the 1949-S has been quite resurgent in recent
years and held its ground, suggesting perhaps the coin is finally
getting some abiding respect from collectors. Thus, for Roosevelt
Dimes with the best potential for future price increases, the 1949-S
deserves top consideration. Purchase an example in the absolute best
condition you can afford:
One of the most valuable, readily obtainable
is the 1982
no mintmark error dime. Beginning in 1980, the Philadelphia
Mint added the "P" mintmark to coins produced there, with the exception
of the cent, which continued to show no mintmark to indicate a
Philadelphia origin. Somehow, at least one 1982 Philadelphia dime
die had its "P" omitted. In January 1983, dimes bearing the 1982
date with no mintmark began showing up in Sandusky, Ohio. Shortly
after its discovery, speculative activity quickly drove the price to
above $300. As the fad wore off, prices drifted downward, and
have been fairly soft for many years. In 1995, a 1982 no mintmark
dime in MS-65 retailed at $225. In 2011, the same coin is selling
in the neighborhood of $200. Experts believe no more than 15,000
of the goofs exist. Given its extreme scarcity relative to all
other Roosevelt Dimes, it might be a sleeper worthy of your attention.
are also a few Roosevelt Dimes that are quite valuable because they're
missing the "S" mintmark. These are the 1968-S, 1970-S, 1975-S (only 2
known!), and the 1983-S). They're tough to find and will cost a four or
five figure sum.
While it is true the 1949-S is still not a super expensive coin, as
always, we recommend caution especially if you're angling to hook a top
quality specimen. What a shame if you thought you purchased an
MS-67 example, only to later find out later other hobbyists wouldn't
rate it anywhere near that lofty state of preservation. The best
advice is to settle only upon coins that have been graded by one of the
four leading certification companies: PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS.
The cost of certification may not make much sense for a circulated
1949-S, so at least be mindful of the seller's reputation.
The right hand side of the box below is set up
to search eBay for Roosevelt Dimes dated 1949-S in any condition.
The left hand side of each box reports value trends since 1995 for the
1949-S in MS-60 condition, along with annual increase computations to
compare with other coins. As a reminder, the link returns all
1949-S Roosevelt Dimes, not just those in MS-60.
|% Annual Increase