Determining the condition of your coin is done through a process of grading specific points found on the coin. Value is tied directly to condition and grading old dimes; after the date and mintmarks are noted, grading becomes the final part of the formula.
Highlighted in the above image is the central portrait and wing area of a Mercury dime. Notable is the presence of texture in the hair and feather details. Also remaining is the depth of contour flowing over the surface. Both; texture and contour are indicating the condition is within the extremely fine grade, a collectible condition for most Mercury dimes.
Judging condition follows these metrics and subtle details outlined in the videos, descriptions and images of the different grading series.
Barber Dimes: Many grades of Barber dimes are worth more if found in Extremely Fine condition. Typically these old coins are heavily worn. Of importance is the preservation of the letters in the head band.
A full "Liberty" showing across the headband separates a coin from the common and places it among the higher valued collector coins. Video | Images | Descriptions are used to identify the grades.
Mercury Dimes: Detailed in the video is the process used to grade the condition of Mercury dimes. Key elements of the design are judged and depending on the amount of remaining detail, an accurate grade is assigned.
Collectors today search for coins both in circulated and Mint State condition to add to their collections. Eye appeal of any coin is important. Circulated Mercury dimes displaying nice surfaces and lacking distractions are avidly collected. Follow the Video grading Mercury dimes to judge your coins.
Roosevelt Dimes: 1964 is the important date to the series. It is the last year of 90% silver content in the coin. In most cases these silver issues are valued for their silver content. The exception is mint state coins, those with no wear to the surface.
However, added collector value is developing for circulated examples, especially for the earlier years. Detailed descriptions with video and images highlight the important elements to judge when looking for value above silver content.
A complete understanding of the full design of a coin is needed when grading old dimes. Knowing the intricate parts of the design and recognizing missing elements aids in an accurate judgement.
Imaged are mint state grade examples with important areas on the coins described as part of the grading process.
Liberty is featured with a laurel wreath above the forehead, band and a Liberty cap. Hair above the eye is well detailed with fine strands of hair and a small curl just in front of the ear.
Leaves of the wreath are concaved and many have a central line representing a leaf vein. The ribbon with "Liberty" inscribed is defined by distinct lines on the upper and lower edges. Liberty's cap has many contours giving it dimension and is bold from the field. Upper most fold of cap is well rounded and high in profile.
The reverse depicts a wreath with well detailed corn, cotton, wheat and tobacco. A ribbon tied into a bow is holding the wreath together at the bottom.
A mint state - uncirculated Barber dime shows fine kernels of corn, small grains of wheat. Leaves are also detailed with texture of veins, curvature within the leaves and well defined and raised edges.
Obverse highlights a "Winged Liberty" portrait. Know to collectors as the Mercury dime, the first area to inspect is the hair flowing from the top of her head to the chin line. This part of the hair features three waves high in profile with many small details within.
Three layers of feathers are part of the wing, extending from the front edge to the wing tip. Each layer is finely detailed with contoured feathers well separated giving an overlapping appearance.
At the very back of her head is the separation of the cap from waves of hair. This small part of the design is high in profile raised from the field of the coin.
Found on the reverse, the main device is the fasces (symbolic rods) surrounded by an olive branch. In the very center of the coin is the highest point of the design, horizontal bands holding the rods. These bands are first to wear in circulation and first to inspect to confirm the mint state grade.
Vertical lines are clearly defined within the bundle as well as top, middle and bottom horizontal bands. Adding to the details of the bundle are very clear diagonal bands.
An olive branch is finely detailed with rounded branches. Leaves of the branch are contoured and well separated as part of the design.
Roosevelt's portrait fills the obverse design. Well-groomed hair is finely etched with strands. Facial features are also well defined. Distinct contours separate the forehead from the eyes, cheek from the jaw and the chin from the neck line. These varying heights in the design give dimension to a mint state-uncirculated grade Roosevelt dime.
Highest in profile on the obverse is the hair just above the ear, eye brow and cheek below the eye. Potential mint state coins must have complete luster covering the raised areas.
Reverse features are the Liberty torch in the center with a laurel and oak branch on either side. Vertical lines in the torch are held with upper and lower horizontal bands. These bands are noted as having a line separating each.
Staring with the laurel branch, an uncirculated grade example shows fine veins within the center of the leaves. The leaves themselves are contoured with roundness to their profile. Leaves of the oak branch are detailed with a fine line down the center. Two acorns are well profiled within the branch with a noticeable line separating the acorn seed from the cap. Added contoured height and depth to the leaves is a subtle detail of the design.
Within each dime series there are certain grades that break away from the commonly encountered condition. Mint state grade is a primary example. Dimes were minted for release into circulation. Barber dimes that remain today in uncirculated grade are a top choice with collectors and all have premium value. The same is true of the Mercury and Silver Roosevelt series, uncirculated is always worth above common bullion value.
Each series does have circulated grades that place all of the series in the collector value range. These coins are premium grades above the average.
Careful Judgement of Barber Dimes:
Circulated grades represent the majority of Barber dimes surviving today. Heavily worn is the typical condition. Currently 9/9/2019 any Barber dime is worth $2.31 each.
Confirming a grade of Extremely Fine with any of these old dimes is the major break away point in value. A full seven letters of "Liberty" in the headband is a minimum requirement to reach the Extremely Fine grade. Values are now in the $10 plus range for all.
Mercury Dimes Graded Accurately:
Mercury dimes are very popular with collectors today. All are silver in content with a minimum value of $1.50 in any grade. Most dates in the worn "Good" grade trade at this bullion value.
There are notable exceptions valuable in the good grade. Even a well-worn 1926-S | 1921 | 1921-D are premium coins. And the absolute key to the series a 1916-D is prize in the good grade.
Determine your coin grades Extremely Fine and extra care is needed to value accurately. Judge the vertical lines on the reverse, if all show it is a candidate to grade Extremely Fine. If dated 1916 to 1925 collector interest places a large premium on the coin.
Silver Roosevelt Dimes in Mint State - Collectors Choice:
Every silver Roosevelt dime; those dated 1946-1964 currently 9/9/2019 carry a silver content premium. Value is $1.35 per coin. What's important to note is collector interest in the series in focused on mint state - uncirculated grades. These coins; in like new condition are where any values above silver is found with just a few exceptions.
Interest in circulated silver Roosevelt dimes as a collection is small compared to forming a collection of mint state examples. However, the following dates and mint marked coins are seeing a small rise in premium above silver content.
1949 | 1949-D | 1949-S | 1950 | 1950-S | 1951-S
If the above are found worn but retain a crisp appearance set aside from the silver bullion coins.
Begin grading dimes yourself. Videos visualize the process. Reference images to compare with your coins. Descriptions of the key areas on the coin to judge. Combine all to accurately grade coins.
Video index of how to grade coins. The different series of coins ranging from Indian Cents to Morgan Dollars are judged with grading descriptions and images. Accurately determining the grade leads to an accurate value.
Grading is one of the important parts to dime values. Value charts list the different dime series by date and mint marks in the different grades with values of each.
All US coin values. The different coin series from cents through gold coins are easily found by following the images or text links. Identify your coin and find value charts listing dates and mint marks by grade.