Grading Roosevelt Dimes | How to Video

Accurate value of any coin relies on determining its condition. Grading Roosevelt dimes judges specific areas of the coin for the presence of wear. Depending on the amount of remaining detail a "grade" is accurately assigned. Follow the video as examples of Mint State (Uncirculated) condition to Good condition dimes are described and graded.


With a little time and study the skills to accurately grade old dimes develop. Your eyes become keen at detecting the finer details. Additional images and descriptions highlighting the different grades of Roosevelt dimes continue below.

Uncirculated Condition

First to consider is the sought after "Uncirculated" Mint State condition. What separates this coin from the rest is the surface is absent of any wear. Original mint luster… what gives the shine of a new coin… is delicate and quick to fade as a coin is used and circulated.

Rotate the coin while holding under a light and unbroken luster moves across all elements; from high points to the flat areas of the fields.

Grading Obverse Uncirculated Roosevelt Dimes
Grading Reverse Uncirculated Roosevelt Dimes

Obverse:

  • Fine lines of the hair must be visible without dulling
  • Roosevelt's cheek below the eye is quick to wear; unbroken texture of luster remains
  • High profile as well; the jaw line below the ear is undisturbed indicating the uncirculated condition

Reverse:

  • The flames of the torch are inspected for any breaks in shine and smoothing
  • Look closely at the outer edges of the Olive and Oak leaves; they may be abraded but not show wear
  • A check of the tops of the lettering is necessary to confirm no signs of wear

Extremely Fine Condition

As small amounts of wear begin to show to the surface the coin it is now considered "Extremely Fine" in grade. Although wear is visible; it is not distractive and overwhelm the overall appearance.

Grading Obverse Extremely fine Roosevelt Dimes
Grading Reverse Extremely Fine Roosevelt Dimes

Obverse:

  • Majority of hair detail is visible, only slight flatness to the fine lines is noticeable
  • The back of the jaw just below the ear now displays a small amount of smoothness
  • Above and below the eye must retain its rounded contours with only minor flatness

Reverse:

  • Wear and slight smoothing of the flame is evident, however separation of the flame details remains
  • The Olive as well as the Oak leaves now begin to show areas of flatness
  • Although some reduction in detail is evident on the torch; all vertical lines remain separated indicating this coin is a full Extremely Fine grade.

Fine Condition

Grading Roosevelt dimes in fine condition. Evident on this coin; time in circulation and wear has removed moderate amounts of detail. However in appearance, the coin presents itself as nice and well detailed.

Grading Obverse Fine Condition Roosevelt Dimes
Grading Reverse Fine Condition Roosevelt Dimes

Obverse:

  • Hair detail shows areas of merged lines although ample detail is visible
  • Fine lines just above the ear are now missing resulting in a small flat area
  • Flatness is evident just above the and on the cheek just below the eye; tilt the coin slightly to help judge these areas

Reverse:

  • Flame to the torch is missing all central detail
  • Looking closely at the Oak leaves the small inner detail is now smooth
  • Olive leaves have lost their contour and roundness; however all leaves are separated

Good Condition

A Roosevelt dime in the good grade has lost most of the fine detail. Overall appearance of these coins is some facial contours, wide areas of flatness of the hair, faint lettering and low profile rims.

Grading Obverse Good Condition Roosevelt Dimes
Grading Reverse Good Condition Roosevelt Dimes

Obverse:

  • Roosevelt's ear has worn smooth with little inner ear detail
  • Legend is visible and possibly faint in places
  • Date is readable, often the last digit is weak

Reverse:

  • Torch and flame is without any detail; vertical lines are missing and perhaps a suggestion of horizontal line detail on a well struck reverse
  • All of the small leaf detail is missing with separation of leaves beginning to fade
  • Lettering in areas is weak but remains; often the rim and the tops of the letters in America are now faint and starting to merge

Accurate Grading Roosevelt Dimes = Value

Using magnification to enlarge your view of coins speeds up the grading process as well your learning curve to accurate judgement. If only a few coins are involved an image taken by your phone and zooming in is a quick solution. A 5x magnifying glass is handy for larger groups of coins.

Subtle points to grading described above are not only specific to the Roosevelt series but somewhat universal to grading of any series. Identify fine details to designs; recognize the amount of wear and judge their severity is the basic approach to grading coins.

Reasons Grading Roosevelt Dimes Finds Value

The value difference of Roosevelt dimes from the various circulated grades and the sought after mint state grade requires a close-up judgement of the coin's condition. If a conservative approach is used as you grade, others will likely agree, locking in an accurate value.

Primary is the confident separation of the lowest valued bullion grade dime from a collectable grade Roosevelt dime. Bullion condition silver dimes are worth $1.32 as of 9/18/2017 . In the top end condition; all mint state examples are given a premium value above silver bullion value. How to recognizing these coins is covered in the video, close up images and descriptions. The deciding factor is no wear to the surface.

Among the circulated grades of Roosevelt dimes; very few dates and mints are currently worth more than silver value. In extremely fine condition the 1949 | 1949-S | 1950-S | 1951-S are valued as a collectable. Beginning to make a move into this group is the 1950. A future value play is to separate any of these in solid XF condition from the bullion group. Look especially for coins with a "crisp" defined appearance with all vertical and horizontal lines of the torch sharp.

Collector Interest and Popularity in Roosevelt Dimes

A strong interest in dime collecting is reflected in the number of registry sets currently listed. Each of the two major grading services; PCGS and NGC host Registry set communities; collectors showcase their collections of Roosevelt dimes and are recognized for the best collections. Various major categories of Roosevelt dimes are listed with thousands participating.

At the low end of the grading scale; a Roosevelt dime worn to the state of "Good" condition is considered a bullion piece. These are separated from collectable coins and trade at their silver value with little attention to date and mintmark. It is an important grade to recognize and value according.

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