This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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When you look at today’s MS-65 price of the 1954-S Roosevelt dime, you find that it is $10, just $4 more than the 1964-D, which had a staggering mintage.
You have to think that just maybe the 1954-S will see a price increase at some point in the near future.
Talking about Roosevelt dime price increases in recent times has been a bit like talking about world peace. It might be a good idea, but the general view is that it is not going to happen any time soon.
Actually, Roosevelt dimes have had a few dates move to higher ground recently, so it is not a case where the entire set is absolutely dead in the water. However, you can probably attribute at least some of the interest to the fact that silver has been rising in price since 2001.
But the whole story is not just silver. There have been some selective price increases as the 1982 and 1983 remain in short supply, and some collectors have discovered that some of the earlier dates that were taken for granted are not as available as once thought.
Much the same can apply to the 1954-S. After all, the 1954-S had a mintage of 22,860,000 pieces. That may sound like a decent total, but it really is not very high, especially for a Roosevelt dime.
Certainly examples of the 1954-S could have been saved as the three Roosevelt dimes of 1955 were saved, but they were all below the 20 million mintage mark.
The 1949-S was also below 20 million, but that’s it – just four dates with mintages below 20 million. Suddenly the 1954-S total does not look so high, but of course with three of the four sub-20 million mintages coming the following year, the 1954-S might have seemed higher mintage to collectors of the time than was really the case.
Because of the lower mintage, there should be a few extra rolls or bags of the 1954-S, but a dime was a significant investment for many of the young collectors of the day and those who were collecting dimes were probably interested in the Mercury series and not the new Roosevelt dimes. That has an impact on dealers as well as if no one shows up wanting Roosevelt dimes, they see little reason to stock them.
Had anyone bothered to stock the 1954-S, they could have waited a very long time to see any profit. What profit there was would have appeared in the late 1970s as the price of silver moved toward its early 1980 peak of $50 an ounce.
That price swept up many a 1954-S because hard cash in hand usually trumps a good story for profits in the distant future.
Even today, if you have $50 an ounce silver, a $3.50 bullion value would exceed the MS-60 price of the 1954-S, which is currently $2.10.
You have to figure that original rolls also get melted at that price. Even if the roll has a couple MS-65 coins in it, the majority will be lower. If you get $3.50 each, you are way ahead financially if you just melt the coins. That, however, is today’s reasoning. This was the late 1970s when there was even more financial reason to melt the 1954-S.
We cannot be sure what numbers are available today as the 1954-S is too inexpensive to have been graded by third-party services. The odds are, however, that the 1954-S is not as available in top grades as many might think. At today’s price, if you are looking for an inexpensive coin that had a pretty good chance to move to higher levels, the 1954-S looks like a good option.