Mercury Dimes’ Key Dates

Introduced in 1916 following the Barber Dime, which had been in production since 1892, the Mercury Dime is one of the more artful pieces of American coinage, combining both contemporary design with the traditions common to coinage.

The Mercury Dimes, which feature an image of the Roman god Mercury with symbolic wings on the reverse, were very popular in American culture with many collectors filling albums with the varying dates of the coins, usually before the coins were circulated. Some of the key dates of Mercury Dimes are among the most sought-after and renowned of American coins.

The 1916-D is thought to be the most important key date in the Mercury Dime series. The first year of the Mercury Dime’s issue saw just 264,000 examples produced, by the far the lowest in the series. Apparently, little reason can be ascribed to the low mintage levels for the coin. It is thought the Denver Mint was concentrating on other denominations at the time, such as the record number of quarters the Mint produced, that would have decreased the number of Mercury Dimes it produced.

The 1921 Mercury Dime is considered one of the semi-key dates in the series with a total mintage of 1,230,000 examples. The low mintage levels were noticed by collectors who picked many of the coins out of circulation before the Great Depression. In the uncirculated condition, however, the 1921 Mercury Dime is fairly difficult to find.

The 1921-D Mercury Dime is a low-mintage issue from the Denver Mint, with a total mintage of 1,080,000 pieces, the second lowest in the series. Regardless of the Mint that issued them, most Mercury Dimes have a slightly subdued luster.

The 1926-S Mercury Dime has a reasonably low mintage of 1,520,000 examples, similar to the Lincoln Cent and the Buffalo Nickel of the period. Strike is a problem in this issue as virtually all the coins were released into circulation and it is rare to find a gem quality example with a full strike on the reverse side.

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