The Roosevelt dime replaced the Mercury dime, which was issued from 1916 to 1945. Authorized to be made soon after the passing of Franklin D. Roosevelt, it first circulated in 1946 and remains the dime design to this day.
Since the Roosevelt coin doesn’t feature rare dates, it’s not a piece that is widely sought by coin collectors. The Mint shifted from using silver in striking to coin to base metal in 1965. Also, the coin’s design hasn’t changed much since it was first struck in 1945.
History of the Roosevelt Dime
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) is America’s only four-term president. He presided over a country that was in a Great Depression and involved in World War II.
A polio sufferer – he contracted the disease in 1921 when he was in his late 30s – he founded and supported the nonprofit organization March of Dimes to combat the disease. As part of a fundraising campaign, lapel pins were sold for ten cents while thousands sent in cards and letters containing dimes to the White House.
When FDR died in 1945, he was honored with a redesign of the ten cent coin. Roosevelt died on April 12 and on May 3, a bill for a Roosevelt dime was passed by Louisiana Representative James Hobson Morrison. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr announced on May 17 that a new coin featuring Roosevelt will go into circulation at the end of the year.
There were objections to redesigning the dime, but the Mercury dime that it would be replacing had been struck for more than 25 years. According to law, it can be changed.
Design of the Roosevelt Dime
The new dime design was done by Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock. A portrait of Roosevelt was depicted on the obverse, along with the inscriptions LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. Below the truncation of Roosevelt’s neck were the date and Sinnock’s initials JS.
The reverse of the coin depicted an upright torch, a symbol of freedom. The torch is accompanied by branches of olive and oak, representing peace and victory, respectively. An inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM (“out of many, one”) is put beside the torch while the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DIME form arcs around the design.
The Roosevelt dime was first made on January 19, 1946 at the Philadelphia Mint. It went into circulation on January 30, which would have been FDR’s 64th birthday.
What is coinage without a little controversy? With relations with the USSR deteriorating at the time the new coin was released, the initials JS were seen by some to refer to Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader. Many believed the initials were put there by a communist sympathizer. This belief was debunked by the Mint, but rumors still prevailed.
Collecting Roosevelt Dimes
Not much has changed with the design of Roosevelt dimes in its more than 70-year run. It’s not much of a challenge to collect the coins since it has been produced by the millions since 1946.
The coin went through minor design changes over the years. Three mints produce the coin: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco with mintmarks first appearing to the left of the torch’s base then above the date from 1968 onwards. The coins struck in Philadelphia initially weren’t marked with P, but that changed starting 1980.
Since the Roosevelt dime series doesn’t contain any rare dates, completing a collection is fairly easy.