The death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April of 1945 created a strong sentiment to issue a commemorative coin. After this idea was rejected, a regular issue coin was considered. Lincoln pennies (1909) Jefferson nickels (1938) and Washington quarter (1932) coins were deemed "untouchable." The only two remaining regular issue coins were half dollars and dimes. A number of special commemorative half dollars were already released. A replacement for the "Walker" half dollar (1916) was considered. After some debate, the ten cent coin was chosen. The old "Mercury" head dime had been minted since 1916, and it was time for a change. The designer of the FDR dime was John R. Sinnock who also went on to design the Franklin Half Dollar.
The standard 90% silver and 10% alloy was used from 1946 to 1964. The last year (1964) of mintage of silver dimes saw more than 2 BILLION coins struck! The original alloy was replaced with a "Clad" issue of 75% copper and 25% nickel outer shell with a pure copper core. The complete set is reasonably easy to collect. There are a few rare dates. Error coins are not considered part of the set. It can be a very good challenge to assemble an all uncirculated set. This is a great set for the young or novice coin collector to explore!
Follow these tips for collecting FDR dimes.
Some of the years and/or mint marks are more difficult to collect. Included in this group are these issues:
1949 P, D & S; 1950 S; 1951 S; 1952 S; 1955 P, D & S; 1958 P
The early Proof FDR dimes were minted in Philadelphia starting in 1950. These were minted in relatively low quantities until 1956. Clad Proof coins are much more common. After a lapse of many years, silver Proof dimes (San Francisco mint mark) were resumed in 1992. With the exception of error coins and a few "special" issues, most clad Proof dimes are very easy to obtain.
ERROR AND RARE ISSUES
Error dimes are not considered part of the regular set. A few are very expensive. Here are the "tough" coins to acquire:
1950 S over D; 1960 Double Die Obverse; 1963 Doubled Die Obverse; 1964 Doubled Die Obverse 1982 (No mint mark); 1996 W Special Issue.
In addition, some of the Clad Proofs of the late '70s and early '80s had no ("S") mint mark.
Novice collectors should initially try to assemble a "year" set with one coin of any mint from each year (1946 to the present).
The next step is to collect all mint marks for each and every year.
The final step is the upgrade of as many coins as possible to Brilliant Uncirculated condition.
The rising cost of silver bullion will affect the cost of obtaining these coins. At $20 per ounce, common date circulated dimes will retail for approximately $2 each. If the bullion price continues to increase, there is the genuine possibility that many of the pre-1965 dimes, quarters and halves will find their way to the melting pot--increasing the prices for any specimens. We last saw this phenomenon in the early 1980s!