Those who enjoy collecting coins for the pure enjoyment of finding elusive pieces, checking items for quality, and a not-so-big cash outlay may find a collection of clad dimes to fit the bill.
A collection of clad dimes spans 45 years now, and can include a few scarce and pricey coins, such as mint errors. But a basic set can keep a collector busy and take him back to the time when collections were built for the sake of completing a series.
Dimes of the first three clad years – 1965, 1966, and 1967 – had mintages in the billions. The 1967-dated dime is still the one with the largest mintage. A collector can check his change for a long time, even looking through rolls of dimes, and not come up with nice-looking Mint State coins.
Quite a few dimes may have the dates poorly struck. A close study may be needed to discern the dates on 1968 and 1969 dimes. Some early clad dimes have letters missing in the motto “E Pluribus Unum” on the reverse.
The 1969 dime from Philadelphia is not an easy coin to find in change. Even during the year of issue, I recall hunting for a long time to find one.
The 1971-P and 1973-P are also hard to find. It should be noted here that use of the “P” is to indicate the mint of origin not as a statement that a “P” mintmark was used. The “P” mintmark first appeared on dimes in 1980.
In five months of checking clads in change for dates and mintmarks, I found only a single example of the 1973-P dime. The 1971-P had the lowest mintage of clad dimes made for circulation, to the tune of 162 million. Not exactly a rare coin, but they went into circulation right away to do their job, and practically none was saved.
The 2009-P and 2009-D now both have mintages that are lower at 96.5 million and 49.5 million, respectively.
If a date and mintmark set of clads isn’t enough of a challenge, include the varieties struck with no mintmark, or the rare off-metal pieces.
Some proof clad dimes were struck without the “S” mintmark. The first was 1968-S, discovered in June of that year. About half a dozen are known. The 1970-S proof with no mintmark was discovered in January 1971. The Mint confirmed that one die produced 2,200 of these. Only two specimens are known of the 1975-S dime lacking a mintmark. The first was discovered in February 1978, and the second, in June 1978. The 1983-S with no mintmark was discovered in May of that year, and about 100 are known.
Quite a few 1982-P dimes were made without a mintmark. The first of these was discovered in the Sandusky, Ohio, area in January 1983. These dimes were rather sharply struck, and approximately 8,000 to 10,000 are known. Some with a flatter strike were discovered in Pittsburgh in August 1983, and about 5,000 of these are known.
One specially mintmarked dime was made in 1996. The only circulating coin minted at West Point, the 1996-W, was struck for inclusion only in mint sets. Only 1,457,000 of these dimes were made, making this the non-proof clad dime with the lowest mintage. Many mint sets were broken up so collectors could acquire this special dime. No clad collection is complete without this coin, which currently sells for about $20 in Mint State.
Proof dimes of the clad years were made from 1968 to date, with the “S” mintmark. These coins can be pretty in the sharply struck, proof finish. Don’t forget the Special Mint Set coins of 1965, 1966 and 1967. While not of proof quality, they are collector’s items in their own right.
A collection of clad dimes need not stop there. After finding one of each date and mintmark, along with proofs and the West Point coin, a few varieties are known to collectors. Less than half a dozen 1965 dimes of 90 percent silver are known, along with a 1964 dime struck in copper-nickel clad. There may be more in circulation or in a piggy bank, waiting to be found.
A few dimes of 1964 made in Special Mint Set quality are known; if one could be found, this coin would be a nice complement to a set of SMS dimes.
The little Roosevelt dime, not especially loved by collectors in silver or copper-nickel, makes a worthwhile collecting pursuit. Such a set can be challenging and fun, combining the search for coins in change with a few scarcities and mint errors. And who knows? Maybe the next scarce variety or mint error will be yours to discover.
This is the third article of five on clad coins. The other two appeared Jan. 5 and Jan. 19.