Mercury dime

The Mercury dime is a ten-cent coin struck by the United States Mint from late 1916 to 1945. Designed by Adolph Weinman and also referred to as the Winged Liberty Head dime, it gained its common name because the obverse depiction of a young Liberty, identifiable by her winged Phrygian cap, was confused with the Roman god Mercury. Weinman is believed to have used Elsie Stevens, the wife of lawyer and poet Wallace Stevens, as a model. The coin's reverse depicts a fasces, symbolizing unity and strength, and an olive branch, signifying peace.

Mercury (Winged Liberty) dime
United States
Value10 cents (0.10 U.S. dollars)
Mass2.500 g except 2016 gold issue: 3.110 g
Diameter17.91 mm except 2016 gold issue: 16.50 mm (0.705 in except 2016 gold issue: 0.650 in)
Edge118 reeds
Composition
  • .900 silver
  • .100 copper
  • 2016: .9999 gold
Gold(2016 only) 0.10000 troy oz
Silver0.07234 troy oz
Years of minting1916–1945 for commerce, 2016 as a gold commemorative
Mint marksD, S, (2016 only) W. Located on reverse between letter "E" in "ONE" and the base of the olive branch. Philadelphia Mint specimens lack mint mark.
Obverse
DesignA young Liberty, with winged cap
DesignerAdolph Weinman
Design date1916
Reverse
DesignOlive branch, fasces
DesignerAdolph Weinman
Design date1916

By 1916, the dime, quarter, and half dollar designed by Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber had been struck for 25 years, and could be replaced by the Treasury, of which the Mint is a part, without Congressional authorization. Mint officials were under the misapprehension that the designs had to be changed, and held a competition among three sculptors, in which Barber, who had been in his position for 36 years, also took part. Weinman's designs for the dime and half dollar were selected.

Although the new coin's design was admired for its beauty, the Mint made modifications to it upon learning that vending machine manufacturers were having difficulties making the new dime work in their devices. The coin continued to be minted until 1945, when the Treasury ordered that a new design, featuring recently deceased president Franklin Roosevelt, take its place. The Mercury dime was minted again but in gold for its centenary in 2016.


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