History of the Barber Dime

In 1887, Mint Director James P. Kimball noted in his annual report the “inferiority of our coinage” compared to other advanced nations which in his opinion, the coinage of the U.S. was out of date and will be changed. At the request of Kimball, Senator Justin S. Morill introduced a bill authorizing the Department of the Treasury to revamp coins without first obtaining the permission of Congress, as long because the current design had been in use for a minimum of 25 years. The bill passed on September 26, 1890 and therefore the dime, quarter and fifty-cent piece were targeted for change. the choice of who should redesign the coins eventually fell to his successor, Edward O. Leech.

Ironically, new designs were submitted by Mint engravers throughout the first 1880’s but the sole change that occurred was a replacement nickel designed by Charles E. Barber in 1883. In 1891, when there was discussion of a public competition for brand spanking new designs. Barber reported to Mint director Kimball that there was nobody within the country capable in assisting him in preparing original designs. Augustus Saint-Gaudens confided to Kimball there have been only four men within the world competent do to such a redesign: three were in France and he was the fourth. It didn’t matter. Kimball insisted that instead of going abroad to seek out the simplest design talent available, it might be possible to seek out able designers in America. Against the recommendation of Barber, the Department of the Treasury organized a contest to supply new designs. A panel of 10 of the leading artist and sculptors of the day were commissioned to guage which might be the simplest designs for brand spanking new coinage. The panel met and rather than discussing the competition, they instead rejected the terms of the competition as proposed by Mint officials on the bottom that the preparation time was too short and therefore the compensation woeful. The Mint director rejected the panels’ suggestions and threw the competition bent the general public . The results were disastrous. Of the quite 300 drawings submitted, only two received an mention by a smaller judging panel. it’s interesting to notice that two of the judges were Barber and Saint-Gaudens.

When Leech took over as Mint director, he was cognizant of the issues his predecessor had experienced. so as to urge new designs into production and avoid another disaster of a contest , he simply directed Barber to draw up new designs. this is often what Barber had wanted right along has he felt as Chief Engraver, he, and he alone was liable for coin design.
The result wasn’t much within the way of originality. that might need to await quite another 25 years. What Barber did was to switch the massive head used on the Morgan dollar by adding a cap and cropping Liberty’s hair shorter in back. He then placed his initial B on the truncation of the neck. This was the planning used not only on the dime, but the new quarter and therefore the new fifty-cent piece also .

The reverse didn’t undergo much of an overhaul either because it uses almost the precise same reverse of its predecessor, the Seated Liberty Dime. While many don’t credit Barber with much artistic ability, what he lacked in design capabilities he made up for in knowledge with regard to designing a coin that might withstand a contemporary high-speed coin press. On January 2, 1892, the primary of over half a billion Barber dimes were struck.


The Barber dime series consists of 74 regular issues, plus the super-rare 1894-S. While half a billion dimes for a whole series pales as compared to today’s coin production, it had been big numbers back within the 1800’s. With a coffee relief, Barber dimes faired well and although there are a couple of semi-key issues (not including 1894-s), a whole set in circulated condition are often assembled for under $1500.00 in G4 approximately condition. As is common with many series of this point period, Philadelphia was the most producer of coinage. The San Francisco and New Orleans mint typically produced far few examples in most years of production making earlier years harder to get . Denver didn’t begin producing Barber dimes until 1906.

Key/Semi Key Dates

While most Barber Dimes are obtainable, one among the rarest of all coins came from this series. The 1894-S dime had a complete mintage of 24 and only 10 can now be accounted that presents one among the good numismatic mysteries of the time. Allegedly, 24 pieces were struck at the order of San Francisco Mint Superintendent J. Daggett. Of the ten known, all were struck from an equivalent set of dies. the simplest known story is that Daggett gave three to his daughter Hallie and told her to stay them until she was as old as he was, once they would be worth tons of cash . On her way home from the mint, her newfound riches got the simplest of her and she or he spent one among the dimes on a dish of frozen dessert . Today that coin is understood because the frozen dessert specimen. Although there’s no to prove it had been the one that a young Hallie spent, one among the known specimens is heavily circulated. it’s been graded as a G4 while all other coins are MS/PR60+ condition. Robert Freidberg bought this coin over the counter for $2.40 (24 times face value) at Gimbels emporium , NY, in 1957. If it’s the “Ice Cream Specimen”, it certainly got around.
Why did the mint only produce 24 dimes that year? There are two stories. the primary is that the coins were struck to supply a balance of forty cents needed to shut a bullion account at the San Francisco Mint by June 30, 1894 – the top of the financial year . Since any even numbered (2, 4, 6, 8) dollar amount ending in forty cents was acceptable, the workers were said to possess struck 24 pieces, or $2.40. The expectation was that the Mint would receive orders for more dimes before the top of the civil year . New Year’s Eve passed without an invitation for further production. consistent with the story, two or three pieces were obtained by Mint employees “just to possess a replacement dime,” and once they realized the coins were now rare, they sold them to collectors for $25 or more apiece. The remaining 1894-S dimes went into a bag with other dimes and into circulation. The more widely accept story is that the dimes were minted as a special request for a few visiting bankers. consistent with an account from California dealer Earl Parker, who bought the 2 remaining dimes that Hallie Daggett had, Hallie told Parker that her father minted the coins and presented 3 to every of the 7 visitors and gave the remaining three to her which has previously mentioned, she spent one dime on frozen dessert .

Most experts believe the “visiting bankers” theory because the likely reason. Of the known high grade coins, all of them seem to be proof strikes. it’s unlikely that such care would have taken place to supply a couple of dimes to even out the books but it quite likely for coins made for presentation.
Putting the 1894-S aside, most, if not all dimes are readily available in low grades. Collecting the series in higher grades remains achievable but certainly tougher . Recall that this coin was heavily circulated. Assembling a collecting of all MS65 or better, while little question out of the financial reach of most collectors, is feasible , as there’s a minimum of 1 coin graded in MS65 by PCGS for every mint and year. For the remainder folks , collecting this series in average circulated grades is without a doubt doable. Back during the times of this coin, a dime was real money and intrinsically , this series is heavily circulated. While many dates had mintages within the millions, there are a couple of dates where the entire mintage is around 500,000 thereby making the acquisition of those a touch tougher and painful to the wallet/purse. for instance , the 1895-O had a mintage of 440,000. Obtaining this coin during a grade of G to VG could cost you between $400-$600. It only gets worse from there as an XF-40 will cost you over $2000. The 1901-S had a mintage of 593,022 and isn’t quite as expensive and may be had for fewer than $100 in G condition and for around $500 in XF-40 condition. The 1903-S had a mintage of 613,300 and is analogous priced on lower grades but is higher priced than the 1901-S in higher grades suggesting the 1903-S didn’t fair also in circulation. The second lowest mintage dime was the 1913-S with a mintage of 510,000. While having the second lowest mintage, it’s not within the top 10 as far as price and may be had for around $20 in G4 and $35 for VG8. Earlier coins, even those with mintages over 1,000,000 pieces, will cost you quite the 1913-S suggesting that earlier dates, even those with high mintages could also be tough to accumulate .

If the value of a whole set is just too much, a year set could convince be a way more frugal approach. As mentioned earlier, the Philadelphia mint generally produced the bulk of Barber dimes. the sole year that a branch-mint exceeded production of Philadelphia was in 1895 when Philadelphia produced only 690,880 pieces while San Francisco produced 1,120,000. With the expectation of a couple of earlier dates, most Philadelphia examples are often obtained for a couple of dollars in G4 and for fewer than $10.00 per coin in F to VF condition.

If you’re into collecting Barber type coins, the Barber dime could also be just the ticket for the budget conscience collector.

The Barber dime series consists two major varieties (1893/2-P and 1905-O micro-O).

There are 24 coins within the proof Barber dime series, not counting the branch mint proof 1894-S. The mintages range from 425 for the 1914 to 1,245 for the first-year-of-issue 1892. A grand total of 17,353 proof coins were produced for the entire series. While extremely low, the rarest of proofs in MS-65 is that the 1908 with 12 pieces certified at PCGS.

Vital Statistics Summary
Key Coin Info
Designed by: Charles E. Barber
Issue dates: 1892-1916
Composition: 0.900 part silver, 0.100 part copper
Diameter: 17.9 mm.
Weight: 38.58 grains
Edge: Reeded
Business strike mintage: 504,317,075
Proof mintage: 17,353

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