Find a 1966 dime? Pick it up, and look closely. The fascinating thing about coin collecting is a simple detail can make an ordinary coin worth far more than its face value.
There’s no better example of this in American coinage than the 1966 Roosevelt dime.
Two major factors make the 1966 dime unique.
- 1966 marked the second year after the U.S. Mint moved on from using 90% pure silver in dime mintage.
- 1966 dimes are the last year with no mint mark on the coin.
Because of these two details, 1966 Roosevelt dimes, especially those with errors, can be worth a lot more than ten cents.
Typically, a coin with no mintmark indicates it was struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
But what’s unique about the 1966 dime, (along with the 1965 dime) is that it has no mintmark, even though it was struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mint.
History of the U.S. Dime
By 1946, the U.S. Mercury dime had been in circulation for 30 years. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who notably suffered from polio, raised funds to help find a cure for the disease in 1938.
At one of his fundraisers, entertainer Eddie Cantor joked that Americans should send dimes directly to the President.
The public didn’t get the joke, and that was a good thing because Americans sent over 2.6 million dimes FDR’s way.
The effort was called the “March of Dimes,” and the President used that name for the organization he founded that still exists today.
Roosevelt died in April 1945. To honor the late President, legislators asked that the Mercury dime be replaced with a US coin featuring FDR’s profile.
Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. agreed. White House Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock was commissioned to design new silver dimes for release by the end of the year.
The First Roosevelt Dime
Sinnock’s original design for the 10-cent piece was not met with acclaim.
Commission members objected to most of Sinnock’s sketches for the obverse of the coin. He tried everything from scrolls of the Four Freedoms and the goddess Liberty to the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. He even tried a hand holding a torch.
The commission chairman further stated that Roosevelt’s bust needed “more dignity.”
Sinnock went back to the drawing board and finally settled on a design that everyone agreed with. The Roosevelt dime was first struck on January 19, 1946, and released into circulation 11 days later to coincide with Roosevelt’s birthday.
But the controversy didn’t stop there. Some conspiracy theorists believed John Sinnock had telegraphed his support of Communism by chiseling the letters “JS” into the 10-cent pieces. Critics accused Sinnock of noting Joseph Stalin’s initails “J” and “S” on the coin.
Sinnock’s plausible defense was that they were his own initials, which he used to “sign” the coin.
1966 Roosevelt Dime Design
Some critics also suggested Sinnock had ripped off another artist for the design of FDR’s head.
Sculptor Selma Burke had made a plaque featuring the profile of the left side of Roosevelt’s face. Burke maintained until the day she died that Sinnock had stolen her design.
Of course, this can’t be confirmed today, but it’s known that Roosevelt had posed for both Sinnock and Burke and that there are slight but noticeable differences between the two.
First Iteration Dime Design
The first iteration of pure silver Roosevelt dimes, which remained in circulation through 1964, had 90% silver content with a 10% mixture of copper.
This composition was ordered changed with the Coinage Act of 1965, spurred by a coin shortage and an increase in the value of silver.
From that point forward, coins were plated with an outer layer of copper-nickel (75% to 25%) over a pure copper core.
The rising price of the silver market played a significant role in coin compositions. The silver content of quarters and dimes were altered, and other silver coins such as the Kennedy half dollars were reduced from 90% silver to 40%.
Minting the 1966 Roosevelt Dime
This resulted in the 1966 Roosevelt Dime. For the first two years of dime minting after the Coin Act, 1965 and 1966, the new dime did not have a mark to indicate the United States mint where it had been manufactured (which was either Philadelphia, Denver, or San Francisco).
For some reason, the U.S. Mint feared that coin enthusiasts would hoard the new dime in hopes that the shortage would boost its value. It was believed that deleting the mint stamp would stave off those scavengers.
The mint stamp returned to the dime in 1968 and is still used in dime money minting today.
More than 1.3 billion circulation strikes of the 1966 Roosevelt dimes with no mint marks were produced. Even the Special Mint Set production topped 2 million.
Engraving on the 1966 Roosevelt Dime
The obverse of the 1966-D Roosevelt dime features Sinnock’s portrait of FDR in precise detail, with the barest hint of a smile and hopeful eyes chiseled onto his face.
The word “LIBERTY” is inscribed in an arc around the front of his face, with the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” appearing beneath his chin. The 1966 date stamp and the initials “JS” appear under the President’s neck.
1966 Roosevelt One Dime
On the reverse of the coin, you’ll see a single-lit torch adorned by branches on both sides, the phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM” cross-cutting the picture.
The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” appear in an arc on top of the coin, the denomination “ONE DIME” in slightly larger letters around the bottom. A dot on either side separates the phrases.
The edge of the dime is reeded or covered with small notch-like engravings. The measurement of a dime is about 17.9 millimeters in diameter, and the weight of a dime is about 2.27 grams. The metal-clad materials used to make it cost about two cents.
1966 Dime Errors
As with all coins still in circulation, valuable dimes are typically defined by errors or misprints committed during the minting process.
While these coins are rare, they are still dispersed among the general public, so it’s always worth looking through your piggy banks or coin drawers to find an imperfect one.
Here’s a list of the most common 1966 error coins to watch out for –
- Missing Letters
- Misplaced Die
- Clipped Planchet
- Missing Clad
- Off Center Strike
1966 Dime Missing Letters
Some of the most common printing errors on the 1966 Roosevelt Dime include missing letters in some phrases adorning the coin’s edge.
There are a few instances of a missing “I” and “W” in the phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and a few cases of the word “LIBERTY” with a missing “Y” at the end.
1966 Dime Misplaced Die
A notable flaw with the 1966 Roosevelt dime involves a misplaced die. Coins are typically made using two dies to cast images on either side of the metal.
In one run, the die was misaligned, resulting in the appearance of the number “5” in the middle of Roosevelt’s cheek.
1966 Roosevelt dimes made with misplaced die markers are some of the most coveted of the error coin category and can be worth over $2,000 at certain auction houses.
The “5” must be clear and distinguishable. Some novice rare coin collectors take extreme close-ups of FDR’s face to find something that looks like it could be a “5” if you view it in the right light.
But with a truly misplaced die dime, you will see a very clear “5.”
1966 Dime Double-Died
Some 1966 Roosevelt coins were double-died, an affliction that strikes many U.S. denominations of coinage.
Double-die coins show a clear, duplicated image or portions of an image, offset so that it looks like it was double-printed. Many double-dies in the text are clearly discernible, such as the word LIBERTY doubled over on itself.
Value of a Double Die 1966 Dime
Double die Roosevelt dimes have a wide range of potential value, especially if the double-die effect is pronounced and visible.
Dimes with missing clad layers have been known to sell for $600 at auction houses. Dimes with the planchet errors described above could be worth marginally more.
1966 Dime Clipped Planchet
A clipped planchet is a manufacturing flaw in which a coin appears to have had a small bite taken out of the edge. Roosevelt dimes with clipped planchets are also more elliptical.
A 1966 Roosevelt dime with a clipped planchet may be worth around $30.
1966 Dime Missing Clad
An extremely rare and valuable U.S. Dime error happens when one of the clad layers is simply missing altogether. This causes the dime to weigh less than the 2.27-gram standard.
1966 Dime Off-Center Strike
Some dimes suffered from off-center strikes, resulting in a blank planchet and a backward-pressed image.
Off-center strikes in high grades could be worth between $40 and $50.
What Is the Numismatic Value of the 1966 Dime?
A typical 1966 Roosevelt dime in average condition, with no mint stamp, and no surface or printing errors is worth face value.
You may be able to find a certified mint state 1966 Roosevelt dime starting at $5 USD. Since 1966 was the second year the dime was not made with silver content, or any other bullion, the melt value is low.
It’s the error coin that really increases the value. Especially if it’s an uncirculated mint error graded by PCGS in Brilliant Uncirculated Condition, or BU.
Value of 1966 Roosevelt Dime Proof Sets
Dimes classified as “proof strikes” were double-stamped to ensure a crisp, sharp image — essentially the perfect US dime with high gloss and sharp contrast.
The U.S. Mint makes limited numbers of proof strike coins, so by definition, they’re rarer and may have more value.
Uncirculated 1966 Roosevelt dimes, unpolished, don’t have the same mirror-like finish as the ultra-rare proof strikes. Because of coin shortage fears, the US Mint did not produce proof sets in 1966.
1966 Dime Special Mint Set Value
1965 and 1966 dimes featured SMS coins, or Special Mint Sets. The coins featured high-quality strikes on higher-tonnage presses.
All of the 1966 special mint set coins were struck at the San Francisco Mint but they do not include the typical “S” mint mark, as none of the 1966 dimes featured a mint mark.
We could call it the 1966 P Roosevelt dime, although you will not ever see a “P” on the coin.
SMS coins are not proofs, and the difference is small but important to collectors. Even though SMS coin dies were prepared just like proof dies, resulting in a mirror-like finish on the coin, here are a few subtle differences between proofs and SMS coins.
- High quality strikes with no speical treatment prior to striking
- Higher-tonnage presses to bring out detail
- Only one strike, rather than multiple strikes for proof coins
- No mintmarks
Although Special Mint Set 1966 dimes marked an important time-period in U.S. coin production, values of SMS dimes are not as high as one might expect.
Total mintage was a whopping 2.2 million Special Mint Set 1966 dimes, so current coin values are only about $1 each.
Who Is on the Dime?
Are there plans to change the dime design anytime soon? Not really. Since January 1946, Franklin D. Roosevelt has been on the U.S. dime, and it’s likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
In fact, the Roosevelt dime is the only coin in circulation that has yet to be redesigned.
For a little dime design inspiration, we might want to look North to our Canadian friends. Recently, they released the first-ever colored dimes including a touch of blue.
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the famous fishing vessel “Bluenose”, the Royal Canadian Mint added the splash of blue color, along with the first redesign since 1937.
How Much is One Dime?
One U.S. dime equals ten cents, or 1/10 of a dollar. This has been a fact since the dime’s authorization by the Coinage Act of 1792.
The dime is worth ten pennies, and there are no plans to change the value of a U.S. dime. It’s been a staple of U.S. coinage for over two hundred years.
How Much Does a Dime Weigh?
The weight of a U.S. dime is 2.268 grams. This is true for every dime minted since 1965.
With a diameter of 17.91 millimeters and a thickness of 1.35 millimeters, the “clad sandwich” copper and nickel dime is the thinnest and smallest U.S. coin currently minted.
How Much is a Silver Dime Worth?
Dimes minted in 1964 or before contain 90% silver, so the melt value is much higher than a 1966 dime. A circulated silver dime is worth at least $1.30, which is directly tied to current silver prices.
Since the price of silver fluctuates from day to day, even minute to minute, the value of a silver dime as a collectible will also fluctuate.
Why Do Dimes Have Ridges?
You might be asking yourself, why do some coins have ridges? Coin ridges, or the “reeded edge,” are actually a security feature. It goes back hundreds of years when a problem called “coin clipping” began.
Coins produced with gold and silver we desirable, by clipping a fraction of the coin before using it was hardly noticeable. Sir Isaac Newton acting as the Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, proposed a solution.
Clipping was no longer possible by adding ridges to the edge of coins.
The reeded edge tradition carried over to the United States and has been used in minting coins made of valuable silver, such as dimes and quarters. Smaller denomination coins with a smooth edge such as pennies and nickels were not worth clipping.
Bonus – What is a Half Dime?
When hunting for 1966 dimes, there’s a story to keep in mind. Half dimes were silver coins minted from 1792 – 1873.
Once the nickel was created, there was no use for the half-dime, and it was discontinued. But one-half dime stunned the coin-collecting community.
It was the discovery of an 1870-S half dime. The “S” designation represented the San Francisco Mint, but records indicated no half coins were struck there in 1870.
It turns out, the half-dime coin was one of two minted “off the record” in the corners of the San Francisco mint.
With Liberty on the obverse and an eagle with a shield and arrows on the reverse, collectors’ eyes lit up searching for details on the mystery coin.
The half dime sold for $425,000 at an auction. Later, the second half dime was found and sold for $660,000 at a Stack’s-Bowers auction.
Here’s a valuable lesson. New discoveries are always possible. Part of the thrill of coin collecting is when mysteries are revealed when you least expect it. You can buy your own half dime and own a small piece of coin history. There are active listings on eBay for around $100.
Let’s Dig a Little Bit Deeper on the 1966 Dime –
Here’s what we know up to this point –
- 1966 was the second year the U.S. Mint changed from a silver composition to clad.
- 1964 was the last year of the silver U.S. dime.
- It’s the last year without a mint mark.
- President FDR, and his ‘March of Dimes’ campaign led to his portrait replacing the Mercury dime.
- 1965, 1966 and 1967 dimes had no mint mark.
- The most valuable 1966 dime to sell at auction was the MS68 “5” error coin for $2,375.
But Why Not Get the Inside Story on This Coin –
- Nearly 1.4 billion dimes were minted in 1966. And over 2.2 million proof strikes.
- Numismatists debate the true designer of the coin’s portrait. Some say John Ray Sinnock, whose initials are on the coin, and some say sculptor Selma Burke, who gifted a portrait to the president five years before Sinnock’s “design” that looked strikingly similar.
- 1945 was a turning point. World War II was ending and as the only 4-term U.S. president, Roosevelt, was finally ending an economic depression and world war of the 30s and early 40s, he passed away after battling polio. The 1946 dime would become the Roosevelt Dime, and still coined to this day.
- There are no “rare” dates, as every single year saw tens of millions of dimes struck.
- 1955 was the lowest mintage of all Roosevelt dime years with nearly 50 million coins struck from the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.
- There’s no way to tell the difference between 1966 “business” strikes and Special Mint Set strikes because neither of them included mint marks.
- How do you know you have an MS65 Choice Uncirculated dime? Good eye appeal, luster, and just a few faint marks sparsely scattered on the surface.
Want to Learn More About Rare Coins? We Have You Covered –
- Let’s get back to the basics. What’s the story on U.S. Coins going all the way back to the beginning?
- Everyone wants to know how much their coins are worth. Take a look at my guide to coin values and add your own methods in the comments.
- I’m ready to sell. Where can I sell my coins online?
1966 Dime Value Today
Today, 1966 dimes in graded condition are worth anywhere from $3 to $10,000. In MS25 to MS60, graded 1966 dimes are valued from $3 to $175.
In un-graded, circulated condition, the 1966 dime is still an amazing coin, even if it’s only worth five cents. If you’re just getting started coin collecting, U.S. Dimes with Roosevelt’s face on the front are a great place to start – in my humble opinion.
Additional Resources –
Current 1966 Dime Auctions – eBay
Rare 1966 Coin Prices – NGC Price Guide
Have You Been Coin Roll Hunting? Let’s Hear About Your 1966 Roosevelt Dimes!
Attic Capital – Writer, Editor, and Lifelong Collector
I would love to connect with you, so don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know more about your passion for collecting.