The 1966 Roosevelt Dime, Rare and Unique

Find a 1966 dime? Pick it up, and look closely. The fascinating thing about coin collecting is that seemingly mundane details can make an otherwise ordinary coin worth far more than its face value. There’s no better example of this in American coinage than the 1966 Roosevelt dime.

The only difference between these dimes and those made afterward is the lack of a mint mark — the single letter designating the U.S. city the dime was minted in.

These dimes were only struck for two years after the U.S. Mint moved on from silver.

Because of this precise detail, 1966 Roosevelt dimes — especially those with errors — can be worth a lot more than ten cents. You may even have a rare coin or two comfortably hiding in your coin drawer right now.

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 since 1938.

At one of his fundraisers, entertainer Eddie Cantor joked that Americans should send dimes directly to the President.

1942 Mercury Dime
A 1942 Mercury Dime, the ten-cent coin struck at the U.S. Mint from 1916 – 1945. Also called the “Winged Liberty Head Dime.”

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.

“Winged Liberty Head Dime

Roosevelt died in April 1945. To honor the late President, legislators asked that the Mercury dime be replaced with one dime 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 of the obverse of the coin, in which he tried everything from scrolls of the Four Freedoms and the goddess Liberty to the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and 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 “JRS” into the 10-cent pieces.

Sinnock’s somewhat plausible defense was that they were his own initials, which he used to “sign” the coin.

1964 Roosevelt Dime
The 1964 Roosevelt Dime with John Sinnock’s initials “JS.”

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 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%, respectively) over a pure copper core.

The rising price of silver 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%.

A Brief History of the 1966 Roosevelt Dime

Minting the 1966 Roosevelt Dime

This resulted in the 1966 Roosevelt dime. For the first two years of its existence, 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 date stamp would stave off those scavengers.

The mint stamp returned to the dime in 1968; it is still in circulation. More than 1.3 billion circulation strikes of the 1966 Roosevelt dimes with no mint marks were produced. Proof strikes topped 2 million. 

Why Do Dimes Have Ridges?

You might be asking yourself, why do some coins have ridges? Coin ridges, or the “reeded edge,” is 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.

Traits of 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.

Common Errors in the 1966 Roosevelt Dime

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.

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 made using two dies to cast the images on either side of the metal. In one run, the die was somehow misaligned or maladjusted, resulting in the appearance of the number “5” in the middle of Roosevelt’s cheek.

1966 dime
1966 error dime with misplaced die

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.

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. Some dimes suffered from off-center strikes, resulting in a blank planchet and a backward-pressed image.

1966 dime clipped planchet
1966 Dime featuring a Clipped Planchet

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.

What Is the Numismatic Value of the 1966 Roosevelt Dime?

A typical 1966 Roosevelt dime in average condition, with no mint stamp but no surface or printing errors, is worth face value.

You may be able to unload a certified mint state 1966 Roosevelt dime for around $8. Since 1966 was the second year the dime was not made with any silver content, a standard coin’s metal value is limited.

It’s the errors that really amp the rare coin’s value. Roosevelt dimes made with misplaced die markers — the ones with the “5” on FDR’s face — are probably the most coveted, valued at about $2,000 in certain auction houses.

The “5” must be clear and distinguishable. Some novice 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, it’s unambiguously a “5.”

1966 roosevelt dime regular strike heads
1966 Roosevelt Dime – Regular Strike.
1966 Roosevelt Dime - Regular Strike reverse
1966 Roosevelt Dime – Regular Strike.

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. A rough estimate of this coin is between $4,000 and $125,000. 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.

A ’66 Roosevelt dime with a clipped planchet may rake in around $30, while one with an off-center strike could be worth between $10 and $20.

Value of 1966 Roosevelt Dime Proof Sets

You might also get some added value from 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. But they may have a higher value than anatomically correct Roosevelt dimes.

You can often find proof sets and uncirculated coins, sometimes combined with similar coins of the era, at your favorite online auction site or secondhand seller.

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The Hunt for Half Dollar Coins

Bonus – What is a Half Dime?

When hunting for 1966 Dimes, there’s a story to keep in mind. Half dimes were silver coins minded 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 coin was one of two minted “off the record” in the corners of the San Francisco mint.

1832 half dime
1832 half dime

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. Coin collecting reveals mysteries when you least expect it.

This video summarizes the top 10 most valuable dimes. Roosevelt dimes can be extremely valuable if you know what to look for, so keep searching!

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