This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Mintage totals are important, but they can be misleading. Especially in the 20th century we saw low-mintage totals but not the prices we might expect. The 1931-S Lincoln cent and 1950-D Jefferson nickel are examples.
It is not often that a coin is not as available as the mintage totals would suggest, but this is the case with the 100,000-mintage 1822 dime.
Now back in 1822 that mintage was not seen as low as it would be today. Also, there were not too many collectors around and even fewer who would collect such a high denomination.
With a mintage of 100,000, we would expect the 1822 dime to bring premium prices today but certainly nothing like the current $1,000 in G-4, $6,250 in XF-40 and $13,500 in MS-60. These prices are up solidly since 1998 when the 1822 was just $300 in G-4, $2,500 in XF-40 and $6,000 in MS-60, but the price increases are not really the story.
With a reported mintage of 100,000, the 1822 is still far more expensive than other mintage dates, which raises questions about its mintage. For example, the 1809, with a mintage of 51,065, is $140 in G-4. The 1811/9 had a mintage of just 65,180 and is $110 in G-4. We see the same pattern in other grades as well.
Further research shows that the prices are in line with numbers of coins known to exist. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has seen the 1822 dime 30 times, which is far below the 1811/9 dime. The Professional Coin Grading Service’s 1822 total is less than 30, which is below the 1809 total of 41 and the 1811/9 total of 39.
It is possible that the 100,000 mintage total for the 1822 is not correct. The general belief is that the 1822 mintage was partially made up of coins dated 1821, not 1822. There is no actual proof, but some suspect 1821 coins might have been the majority of the listed 1822 mintage. Based on prices that might be true, although based on grading service numbers it is not clear.
The grading service totals of the 1822 suggest that its mintage was certainly lower than 100,000 but much more in line with the 1809 or 1811/9. While the 1822 is seen less often, there is not a large difference between its number of grading service appearances and those of the other lower-mintage dates. Whatever the real number, the 1822 dime appears to be one where the mintage is probably lower than the number stated.