It seems like the 1921-D Mercury dime is slipping in terms of the amount of attention it receives. When people think of the Mercury dime set today, they are primarily interested in the 1916-D, the 1919-D and the overdates, but the 1921-D rarely gets mentioned. That’s too bad, because it is a very interesting coin with a fascinating story that tells us a great deal about itself and other coins as well.
Back in the 1950s, the 1921-D was still very big news. After all, with a mintage of just 1,080,000 the 1921-D ranked as the second lowest mintage regular date Mercury dime. Of course, it was far from the lowest mintage. The 1916-D had a mintage of just 264,000, but the 1921-D was still barely over 1 million, and Mercury dimes just did not slip below 1 million pieces.
While the 1921-D was available, that low mintage was still reason to pause and consider it a better date. There was a very good reason behind the low mintage of the 1921-D as well as its near-twin, the 1921, which had a total mintage of 1,230,000. The two seemed like twin dates with good reason: they were both products of the same situation. Back in 1921, there was a recession that kept coin demand down. This included demand for dimes. so to collectors the year became known as a productive one for silver dollars.
The secretary of the Treasury wanted just over 200 million silver dollars. The dollars were needed as reserves for a new issue of Silver Certificates. Apparently silver dollars are hard to produce. The larger the coin, the greater the striking pressure required to bring up design details.
Low demand and another big job to do kept the 1921-D and 1921 dimes at low mintages.
The 1921-D has posted some price increases in recent years. The grade of G-4 has seen its price rise from $38 to a current $78. Of the regular dates, that price is still second to only the 1916-D.
In Mint State the 1921-D also remains a better than average date. It is one of very few Mercury dimes to list for $1,000 in MS-60, where it is currently $1,325. In MS-65 it is at $3,250. In MS-65 with full split bands the 1921-D is $5,200, but in that top grade its price is behind a number of other dates like the 1918-D, 1919-D, 1919-S and the 1920-S just to name a few. Very few of the early Mercury dime dates were well struck and, ironically, the 1921-D seems to have been better than some. Despite small numbers in Mint State, some of the 1921-D dimes around today are relatively nice.
Simply put, it’s a mixed situation for the 1921-D today. However, the fact remains that it will always be low mintage and, at least in some grades, it still remains the second best Mercury dime among the regular dates. But is that good enough for collectors?