Mercury Dimes > Ch 3 > Collecting Mercury Dimes

[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, David W. Lange. This information was originally published in 2005 in The Complete Guide to Mercury Dimes]

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Though countless Americans saved one or more pieces of the Mercury Dime upon its release in 1916, as evidenced by the large number of Mint State and About Uncirculated survivors, there doesn’t appear to have been widespread interest in collecting the entire series by date and mint.  There were, of course, those established collectors who purchased one or two examples of every issue, buying them annually from the individual mints at just face value plus postage, but this series did not gain a devoted following until the mid-1930s.

One of the few individuals publishing observations about current United States coins was Robert H. Lloyd of North Tonawanda, New York.  In 1927 he borrowed a popular expression of the time in titling his article, “Making the Cheese Snappier.”  In it, Lloyd observed that, “The post-war coinage of the United States has shown a tendency to be irregular.  That is, certain pieces have not been struck every year, or pieces of a denomination have been entirely of one mint mark.”  With respect to dimes, he noted that, “1922 marks the first break in the dime series in more than one hundred years.  Since 1923 dime coinage has been normal, except for a low coinage of 1926 S dimes.”

While there was then only limited collector interest in what are now the highly desirable issues dated 1916-31, two events occurred almost simultaneously that together served to create a broad market for these coins.  The first was the creation of several low-mintage issues in 1930-31.  Though there had been a number of low-mintage dates before, such as 1916- D, 1921(P), 1921-D and 1926-S, these had been quietly released into circulation without much notice from the hobby, making Uncirculated pieces quite scarce in later years.  This rarity actually had the short-term effect of discouraging collecting.  The scarce dimes dated 1930-S, 1931-D and 1931-S, however, were a different story.  The Depression-racked economy of those years did not demand any additional coinage of dimes, and most of these coins went into storage.  By this time, hobby publications such as The Numismatist had begun to publish monthly and annual coinage figures, and the small mintage of 1930-31 dimes drew some notice.  Not having been distributed to commercial banks, these coins remained mostly unavailable, as were the 1931-S cents and 1931-S nickels for the same reason.  This artificial scarcity created a speculative market in what appeared to be rare issues.

When finally released in 1934-35 many of these dimes were immediately hoarded by speculators, though most of this activity centered on the more popular cents and nickels.  The low-mintage dimes of 1930-31 nevertheless found ready buyers, while they remained fairly rare in circulation.  The 1931-D dimes, in particular, seemed to have been saved in very large numbers and were among the most often advertised Mercury Dimes for the next decade or so.  The timing of this development couldn’t have been better, as the demand for modern issues was growing rapidly.

This brings us to the second key development in the popularity of collecting Mercury Dimes.   The very first coin albums appeared late in 1928 when Martin Luther Beistle introduced this new product. M. L. Beistle was a manufacturer of paper novelty items in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and the coin album was a natural blending of his business and his coin collecting hobby.  Beistle’s concept was one that’s become very familiar today.  He devised cardboard pages pierced with holes into which coins could be placed. The coins were then secured within their holes by celluloid slides that were inserted into the end of each page. Finally, the pages were punched with holes in their margins for mounting within a ring binder built to suit.

Though Beistle’s product was somewhat crude by current standards, it was the concept that sold it. Previously, collectors had kept their coins in expensive, wooden cabinets with feltlined drawers or had simply placed them in paper envelopes of an appropriate size.  Beistle’s album design was promising enough that prominent New York City dealer Wayte Raymond bought the rights to it around 1931 and began marketing these albums under the National Brand, selling them through the Scott Stamp and Coin Company.

National albums were still a bit expensive, and their target market was the established coin collector who was already well versed in the hobby.  Though many albums were sold to collectors of Mercury Dimes, the real popularity of this series began when simpler and less expensive coin holders became available.  This became a reality in 1934 with the introduction of the first coin board.  Consisting of simply a paper-backed sheet of 11” x 14” cardboard pierced with holes of the appropriate size and lettered to suit, the coin board was the invention of J. K. Post in Neenah, Wisconsin.  Post contracted with Whitman Publishing Company in nearby Racine to manufacture the boards.  A manufacturer of games, jigsaw puzzles and children’s books, Whitman was well suited to mass-producing inexpensive paper products for hobbyists.  The first boards were made for collecting Indian Head or Lincoln Cents, but titles for Liberty Head and Buffalo Nickels were introduced in 1935 and proved to be an immediate success.  These were followed very shortly by boards for “Morgan [Barber] Dimes” and Mercury Dimes.

So successful, in fact, were the boards that Post was overwhelmed by the demand and found himself unable to market the boards effectively on a part-time basis.  Whitman Publishing bought the rights from him in 1936, reportedly in settlement of his debt to the company.  Whitman employee Dick Yeo, later to achieve fame as “Red Book” author R. S. Yeoman, was given the uncertain assignment of making this potential white elephant profitable.  He not only did so, but he greatly expanded the list of titles and developed new product lines, as well.  From that point onward Whitman was at the forefront of the coin collecting supply business, and it remains one of the key players to this day.

Though most of the popular coin series fit quite neatly onto a single board, the ongoing Lincoln Cent and Mercury Dime series soon outgrew this format.  By the early 1940s, the large boards had been replaced by the three-panel folders so familiar to later generations of collectors.

Providing some idea of what it was like to collect Mercury Dimes from circulation during the 1930s is a survey published in The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine.1  Dr. J. Robert Schneider examined some 5000 dimes that came his way between December of 1937 and September of 1938 in the area of Rock Island, Illinois.  In addition to finding nearly a complete set of Barber Dimes, with numerous duplicates, Dr. Schneider turned up the following quantities of Mercury Dimes:

1916           64     1919-S      28      1925          155      1928-S       25       1935            363
1916-D         1    1920         225      1925-D      34       1929        112        1935-D         99
1916-S       42     1920-D      75      1925-S       22       1929-D      45       1935-S          28
1917         198     1920-S       59      1926        144       1929-S       12        1936           567
1917-D      37      1921            9      1926-D      43       1930           10       1936-D       101
1917-S       77      1921-D       3      1926-S         6       1930-S         3        1936-S         12
1918           98      1923        236     1927         143       1931           15        1937           261
1918-D      52      1923-S       25     1927-D      26       1931-D        7         1937-D        26
1918-S       70      1924         117     1927-S       23       1931-S        8         1937-S           5
1919         131      1924-D      33     1928        104        1934          89         Unclear         36
1919-D      39       1924-S      26     1928-D      24        1934-D     54

Clearly, the 1916-D dime was already a rarity within 20 years of its release.  Not surprisingly, dimes dated 1921(P), 1921-D, 1926-S 1930-S, 1931-D and 1931-S were also quite scarce in circulation.  The small quantities reported for 1936-S and 1937-S simply reflected the fact that these coins had not made their way across the country yet, since neither issue would prove to be rare a few years later.  It’s interesting to note too that so many Mercury Dimes were already worn to the point that Schneider described them as “poor date” pieces.  These were coins whose dates he could not make out clearly. In contrast, only seven of the Barber Dimes he observed had unreadable dates.

While the appearance of the coin board in 1934 did indeed revolutionize the coin hobby, making it affordable to most Americans and creating a previously unimagined demand for circulated coins, it was really Beistle’s albums that first put the Mercury Dime series in the spotlight.  Until the late 1920s it was quite rare to find ads offering modern coins by date and mint.  While there were a few people quietly collecting these pieces, the premiums attached to them evidently didn’t merit the placing of ads in The Numismatist.  It was in 1928 that the first offerings of current series appeared.  These began with Indian Head and Lincoln Cents but were later extended to include Buffalo Nickels and Mercury Dimes.  The Beistle/Raymond albums provided a means by which to collect these coins, and the premiums attached to U n c i r c u l a t e d pieces grew steadily during the 1930s.

The primary suppliers of modern coins by date and mint were F. C. C. Boyd in New York City, A. C. Gies in Pittsburgh and William Pukall in Union City, New Jersey.  All were in businesses that gave them access to large quantities of coins, and they financed their own collecting in part by placing these modern pieces with mail-order collectors.  In order to promote sales of his albums, Wayte Raymond ultimately bought out these individual hoarders, and he remained a primary source of both common and scarce issues until his death in 1956.  His estate included large quantities of these pieces, and they were wholesaled to various dealers for the next several years.  The hoards have long since been dispersed, and roll quantities of any coins before the 1930s have become something of a rarity.

It’s ironic that during the Great Depression of the 1930s, a time when the prices of truly rare coins were temporarily in decline, there were startling advances in prices for what were essentially common coins. These included the many commemorative issues of the period, as well as what were then current series such as Buffalo Nickels and Lincoln Cents.  This contradiction reflected a demographic shift in the coin collecting hobby, as many newcomers began checking their pocket change for dates needed to fill their boards.  This became a popular family hobby, though it was still essentially a male activity.  As these new collectors grew in sophistication, they began to seek Uncirculated pieces to replace their “hole fillers,” and the prices for Mint State Mercury Dimes and other current or recent series rose accordingly.

A 1940 advertisement placed by John R. Stewart of Milwaukee is fairly typical of that time and gives a good idea of what collectors were paying for Uncirculated Mercury Dimes:

1916-P …………..$.85      1916-D ………….$9.50       1916-S ………………..$.60
1917-P …………… .85       1917-D ……………2.00      1917-S ………………… .75
1918-P …………..2.00      1918-D ……………2.00       1918-S ………………..1.20
1919-P …………..2.00      1919-D ……………1.60       1919-S ………………..1.60
1920-P …………..2.00      1920-D ……………1.60       1920-S ………………..1.60
1921-P …………..4.50      1921-D ……………2.00
1923-P …………..1.65      1923-S …………….1.75
1924-P …………..1.65      1924-D ……………2.00        1924-S ………………..1.75
1925-P …………..1.20      1925-D ……………2.00        1925-S ………………..1.60
1926-P …………..1.20      1926-D ……………2.00        1926-S ………………..3.00
1927-P …………..1.20      1927-D ……………2.75        1927-S ………………..1.20
1928-P …………..1.20      1928-D ……………1.50        1928-S ………………… .85
1929-P …………… .50      1929-D ……………1.00        1929-S ………………… .85
1930-P …………… .75      1930-S …………….. .85
1931-P …………… .50       1931-D ……………. .75        1931-S ………………… .60
1934-P …………… .25       1934-D ……………. .35
1935-P …………… .25       1935-D ……………. .35        1935-S ………………… .25
1936-P …………… .20       1936-D ……………. .25        1936-S ………………… .25
1937-P …………… .20       1937-D ……………. .20        1937-S ………………… .20
1938-P …………… .20       1938-D ……………. .20        1938-S ………………… .20

It’s interesting to note some of the trends evident from this ad.  The 1916-D, 1921(P), 1926-S and 1927-D dimes had already emerged as keys, yet 1921-D was still considered a fairly routine entry in the series at that time.  Note also that the several of the early ‘D’ Mint and ‘S’ Mint dimes, now considered so scarce in Uncirculated condition, were then priced less than Philadelphia Mint issues of the same years.  The low mintage dimes of 1931 from all three mints were quite reasonably priced in 1940, reflecting the fact that these issues had been widely hoarded.  These concentrated hoards have long since been dispersed, and current prices are much more in line with overall availability.

In 1942 famed Texas coin dealer B. Max Mehl offered a complete set of Mercury Dimes from 1916 through 1941, in which the 1936-41 ‘P’ Mint pieces were proofs, for a total of $125 in Uncirculated condition.3  This level of pricing was not to last, however.  The 1940s saw a tremendous growth in the coin collecting hobby, due to the unique nature of the wartime economy.  Those remaining on the home front earned unprecedented wages, often working multiple shifts or extensive overtime.  At the same time, the production of most consumer goods was either restricted or completely curtailed in favor of items essential to the war effort.  Unable to buy many of the things they desired, but with pockets bulging, most Americans spent their money on entertainment.  This was one of the few pleasures that remained in abundant supply.  Sales of movie tickets reached a climax during this period, and hobbies of every kind experienced unprecedented growth.  The collecting of both stamps and coins soared in popularity, though the rationing of paper supplies occasionally interfered with the production of albums and guide books.

New records were set at nearly every coin auction during the years 1943-48, and it was only toward the end of the decade that the coin market entered a slump.  Recovering by 1952, the growth that followed actually dwarfed the expansion of the 1940s, as there were now no restrictions whatsoever on the supply of hobby products.  New albums and holders made of plastic rivaled the cardboard types as early as 1945, though paper-based albums predominated through the 1950s.  Joining Whitman in the manufacture and sale of coin albums and folders were the Daniel Stamp Company (DANSCO), Harris (of stamp collecting fame), Meghrig, Library of Coins, Shoreline (one of the many Whitman lookalikes), Harold Cohn (HARCO) and dozens of regional and local brands completely forgotten today.  The peak production of albums coincided with the apex of popular coin collecting in the years 1958-64, when the coin hobby was frequently the subject of media attention.

Throughout this period the Mercury Dime series remained a perennial favorite.  Continual circulation, however, took its toll on the number of pieces having readable dates or otherwise considered to be in collectable condition.  Persons not old enough to remember silver coins in general circulation cannot imagine how rapidly they wore down as compared to our current copper-nickel-clad issues.  Popular numismatic writer Jack W. Ogilvie sheds some light on the subject in an article from 1949.  Reporting that a company in his area had placed national advertisements in which dimes were solicited in some sort of promotion, Ogilvie took this opportunity to sort through the several thousand coins received and make some observations on their makeup.4

He noted that 80% of the Mercury Dimes were dated between 1935 and 1945–not surprising given the much greater mintages of these years as compared with most earlier dates.  Some 15% comprised coins dated 1923-34, while the remaining 5% were of earlier dates.  Ogilvie managed to locate one 1916-D dime and two 1921(P) dimes, the latter being considered the second scarcest date in the series at that time.  “What was really astounding,” Ogilvie stated, “was the scarcity of some of the other dates.  The 1916-S was noticeable by its absence, as well as the 1921-D, 1926- S, 1927-D—really a surprise—1930-S and the 1931 all mints.  In the more recent dates, the 1938 and the 1938-D seemed the more evasive.”

Also a revelation to Ogilvie was that over half of the dimes dated between 1916 and 1921 were worn to a point where the final digit of the date was just barely discernible or entirely gone.  The mintmarks, if any, were likewise rendered unreadable.  “Junk!,” he declared, adding that, “It would take three of them to buy what was once a ten-cent cigar!”  The majority of the remaining Mercury Dimes dated before 1923 graded only Poor to Fair in his estimation.  Within the 1923-26 issues he found that just 40% graded as high as Good to Very Good, while a mere 5% achieved the grade of Fine, the remaining pieces being severely worn. Most of the 1927-34 dimes were reportedly Very Good to Fine, while Ogilvie stated of the 1935-45 pieces, “to save anything other than Uncirculated is almost sacrilegious.”

As the Mercury Dime gradually disappeared from circulation during the early 1960s, the rush was on to secure all of the pre-1940 issues.  By this time the earliest pieces still to be found were dateless or nearly so from wear.  As the reverse of this coin type wore more rapidly than the obverse, the mintmark area was often completely obscured.  There’s no telling how many hours have been lost by collectors and dealers who struggled in vain to make out a small ‘D’ on the reverses of 1916 dimes.

The coin hobby entered a period of decline beginning in the mid-1960s, due to a variety of causes.  The speculative market that developed in rolls and even bags of recent coins collapsed in the latter months of 1964, leaving many of the fair-weather collectors strapped for cash and quite disillusioned.  Beginning in the fall of 1965, coins formerly made of silver were quickly replaced by ones of copper-nickel, and all remaining silver pieces were driven from circulation within two to three years.  Sales of proof sets were suspended from 1965 through 1967, and in their place were offered overpriced Special Mint Sets of mediocre quality.

These factors drove away many of the people attracted to coin collecting during the 1950s and early ‘60s whose primary motivation had been greed, but it also ruined the hobby for countless kids and adults who were actually having fun filling their folders from pocket change.  As for Mercury Dimes, the early dates were already scarce after 1960, but the discontinuance of silver coinage spurred efforts to remove the last remaining pieces.  Speaking from personal experience, the author can relate that only dimes dated 1940-45 were to be found after 1965, and silver coins of any date had all but disappeared by the end of 1968.

Serious collectors who had already committed themselves to buying quality coins at premium prices were largely unaffected by the exodus of casual hobbyists, and they may have even viewed the lower prices as a welcome opportunity.  Even so, this bursting of the coin bubble was a blow from which the greater hobby never fully recovered, though there are signs of hope.  The onset of the 50-State Quarters program in 1999 drew a lot of new blood into the hobby, and this launched a general revival in the production and marketing of coin albums for all popular series.  As this is written at the beginning of 2005, the coin market is in a boom cycle, with the values for key-date coins such as the 1916-D dime advancing rapidly.

One of the interesting by-products of the coin collecting mania of the late 1950s and early ‘60s was the great fluctuation of prices for certain issues within the Mercury Dime series.  In the first edition of this book, published in 1993, it was noted that many of the semi-key dates such as 1927-S had peaked in value in the lower grades during the early 1960s.  The values of these coins in grades Good through Fine either declined or remained stagnant after that time and had still not recovered thirty years later.  Little hope was offered for upward price movement, as it seemed these coins were not wanted by anyone at that time.

When the popularity of collecting coins was widespread, these pieces commanded relatively large premiums.  The subsequent decline in values suffered by these issues can be traced to a major change in the nature of the coin collecting hobby.  The inclination of collectors during the 1950s and early 1960s was to hunt for needed dates by examining pocket change and by searching rolls obtained from a nearby bank. With most collectors living in the East or the Midwest, S-Mint dimes seemed particularly elusive and acquired a peculiar mystique.  All that was necessary to dispel this illusion was to speak with dealers in the West, most of whom possessed these dates in abundance.  Such coins had been widely hoarded in low grades during the 1940s and ‘50s and were therefore more common than was generally believed.

As the 1960s passed, a new generation of collectors who had never known the thrill of assembling a Mercury Dime collection from circulation entered the market.  While previous generations had been content to purchase the semi-key dates in low grades, as these coins matched the ones already acquired from circulation, the new collectors quickly learned to seek only higher grade pieces. There was a particular emphasis on Mint State coins, as the stellar gains they’d made since the 1940s became part of the new investment climate.  At the same time that the “pocket change” generation was being driven away from coin collecting, the “deep pocket” generation was pushing up the prices of coins grading XF and higher.  The knowledge that low-grade, semi-key coins were overrated, combined with a dwindling market for such grades, had the inevitable effect of depressing the prices for several dates.

In 1993 it seemed that this trend was irreversible.  In fact, most Mercury Dimes in the grades of Good through Fine have made modest gains during the intervening years.  While forty years of inflation has proved these coins to have been a bad investment overall, there are signs that the collecting of even well worn Mercury Dimes is on the ascendancy.

The collecting of Mercury Dimes entered a new period of sophistication during the 1970s, along with the coin market in general.   New entrants into the coin hobby were often lured by the prospect of profiting from an investment in rare coins, and most dealers shifted their sales pitches in this direction.   Prices rose rapidly during the latter part of the decade, as coins were increasingly viewed as a hedge against double-digit inflation.  The coin market eventually overheated, and this led to a sharp decline in the value of Mint State and Proof coins during the early 1980s.  While some collectors and investors dropped out, often hastily selling their coins at a loss, there remained a greater number of people active in the coin hobby/business than there had been a decade earlier.

Along with the Walking Liberty Half Dollar series, Mercury Dimes were at the forefront of this speculative activity during the onset of the cycle in 1978.  Prices for Mint State dimes, particularly those having Full Bands, rose sharply at that time.  For many years these two series were considered bellwethers of the investment coin market, though the onset of grading and encapsulation services in the 1980s, with their published population reports, soon dispelled the notion that Mercury Dimes and Walking Liberty Halves of the 1940s were rare.  Prices for these more common issues declined, while those of the scarce, early dates continued to rise.

One of the less desirable developments to come from a general increase in values from the 1950s onward was the appearance of numerous counterfeit and altered coins.  Before the 1970s, most such pieces were crude and did not pose a threat to knowledgeable buyers.  The science of counterfeit detection was in its infancy, however, and it was not long before more sophisticated fakes were devised.  This led to the creation of the American Numismatic Association Certification Service in the 1970s.  Its initial role was merely to authenticate coins and attribute varieties, but the ever-increasing values led to disputes over grading.  Published grading guides existed for circulated coins, but most of the abuses and complaints centered around Mint State and Proof pieces, for which there were no published standards.

In 1979 ANACS expanded its services to include grading.  It began issuing grading certificates for coins, and these included photographs of the piece in question.  The intent of this service was simply to arbitrate disputes over specific pieces on an as-needed basis, but coin dealers quickly realized that these grading certificates could be used as marketing tools.  Soon, it became almost essential to have valuable coins certified by ANACS, and this service was the primary source of the American Numismatic Association’s revenue throughout much of the 1980s.

The success of ANACS led to the next logical development in the marketing of coins.  Though each certificate was accompanied by photos of the subject coin, there always existed the risk that the coin depicted was not the one being offered for sale.  Two untoned and Uncirculated coins of the same date and mint could appear quite similar in a photograph, and substitutions were sometimes made at the expense of the buyer.  This weakness was addressed with the creation in 1986 of the Professional Coin Grading Service, a commercial venture that placed both the certificate and the coin inside a sealed holder.  Neither could be swapped without it being evident from examination of the holder.  PCGS was followed just a year later by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), and several other commercial grading services now compete with these two major players.  ANACS was sold by the ANA to Amos Press, publisher of Coin World, in 1990 and continues to operate successfully.  In its place the ANA established the American Numismatic Association Authentication Bureau (ANAAB).  While it provided valuable expertise for a number of years thereafter, without the revenue from its former grading operation it could not endure, and the ANAAB ceased operations early in the new century.

The impact of these developments on the collecting of Mercury Dimes has been profound.  While there are still many who place circulated pieces inside traditional paper-based albums or plastic display frames, most serious collectors now prefer their coins to be certified and encapsulated.  These encapsulations are stored upright within plastic boxes made specifically to fit them.  Publication of the grading services’ certified populations by date, mint and grade has lessened the perceived rarity of some issues while revealing other dates to be important condition rarities.  It is now known with some certainty which Mercury Dimes are truly rare in the higher grades, as is their relative rarity with full bands.

The traditional avenues of acquiring coins for one’s collection, such as neighborhood coin shops and local or regional coin shows, are now but a small part of the overall coin market.  In fact, many collectors never buy coins in person, preferring to shop by mail order from published advertisements or online via their home computers.  This has had a profound effect on the way in which rarity is interpreted.  When the first edition of this book was published, it included a rarity rating for each date and mint combination in the series, including proofs.  This rating was determined by each entry’s frequency of appearances at coin shows, information that is becoming increasing irrelevant to most collectors.  For that reason, the old rarity ratings and rankings have been deleted from this edition, as the certified population data provides a more meaningful guide to expected availability.  These data are, of course, supplemented by the author’s own observations regarding rarity.

The latest development in certified grading is the online collection registry, in which collectors can have their sets compared and ranked against those submitted by other individuals.  This activity is greatly facilitated by the widespread growth and acceptance of the Internet and the prevalence of home computers having Internet access.  Easy scanning of coin images and posting of these images at registry websites add to the collecting experience.  Both NGC and PCGS maintain extensive registry websites. While NGC’s registry may include coins certified by either of these major grading services, the PCGS registry is limited to its own product.

The prevalence of certified coins, with their guaranteed authenticity, has all but driven out counterfeit and altered pieces.  These are still a menace at small coin shows, country auctions and the like, but both dealers and collectors are careful to have valuable coins certified.  Counterfeit and altered coins still turn up with some regularity when collections assembled between about 1950 and 1980 are brought to market, so caution is urged when purchasing uncertified, key-date coins.

While much of the fun of assembling collections within albums has been lost to the present generation of collectors, the coins themselves enjoy far greater protection from the environment.  Even the best made albums leave coins somewhat vulnerable to mechanical damage from the albums’ moving slides, and the less expensive ones subject coins to chemical reactions with both the cardboard and the atmosphere.  Some of the newer album lines introduced since 2000 specifically address the issue of chemical reaction by including only inert materials in their construction and/or by featuring a sacrificial lining that draws atmospheric contaminants toward itself, thus sparing the coins.  Collectors of circulated coins needn’t worry about these issues, so long as the coins are not in contact with degradable plastics.  The last such line of coin albums went out of production a few years ago, so the matter seems settled.  A final caution is that coin folders, in which the coins are simply pushed into the hole and rest against a paper backing, should be used only for beginning collections of inexpensive coins.  They afford no protection from the materials used nor from the atmosphere.

As this is written in 2005, the collecting of Mercury Dimes has never been more popular.  This is by far the best educated generation of coin collectors in terms of both historical and technical knowledge, though the rapid influx of newcomers to the hobby since 1999 presents an educational challenge for us all.

One area of growth for the Mercury Dime series is in the field of variety collecting.  While the number of varieties known for this series continues to be frustratingly limited, there are some good ones to be found. These are, of course, in addition to the well known overdates of 1942.  A perusal of the Bibliography offered in Appendix C will reveal titles of a specialized or general nature pertaining to Mercury Dimes.

Old collections of Mercury Dimes still come back onto the market with some frequency.  Of course, most of these are incomplete sets of wellworn pieces acquired 40-50 years ago from circulation or purchased inexpensively from mailorder dealers or local coin shops.  In fact, go into any coin shop and you are likely to find stacks of such incomplete sets lying on the floor or on a bookshelf, because the dealer’s time is simply too valuable to be spent removing coins that, for the most part, have only their silver value.  Like it or not, most Mercury Dimes in heavily worn condition are very common coins whose numbers exceed the population of potential buyers.

The offering of a high-grade collection, complete with the rare issues, is an important event and seldom occurs outside of major auction houses.  There have been several such significant collections of high-grade Mercury Dimes during just the past five years, the popularity of online registries being an important factor in getting these collections properly highlighted within auction catalogs. More often than not, new price records are set with each such offering.

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