The first Mercury, also known as Winged Liberty, dimes entered circulation on Oct. 30, 1916, and have remained popular with coin collectors ever since. Will the series’ centennial in 2016 boost collector interest?
Gary Rosencrans, owner of Gary’s Coins, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., says Mercury dimes are among his best sellers and their centennial will only reinforce that.
“There will be a lot of publicity about the coins and that should drive up interest,” he said. “This is a series we sell a lot of. Their sales are right up there with Lincoln cents.”
The U.S. Mint is counting on collector’s love for the series. It will release gold versions of the Mercury dime, along with the Standing Liberty quarter and Walking Liberty half dollar, in 2016.
Harry Miller, owner of Miller’s Mint, Patchogue, N.Y., said it’s publicity like the Mint’s plans that will recharge collector’s interest in Mercury dimes.
“The centennial has already brought up a little more interest in the series,” he said. “There especially has been a renewed interest in higher grade circulated Mercury dimes.
“There are a lot of circulated grade collectors for this series. Many of these collectors put together sets in their childhood and are now returning back to them, looking to upgrade the coins.”
He said coin selling promotion companies are also focusing on the Mercury dimes’ anniversary.
“Promotion companies have been preparing for this centennial for some years,” Miller said. “I imagine interest in the series will grow and then peak by about late spring.”
Rosencrans agreed, saying that promotion companies will probably market 1916 and 1916-S Mercury dimes, but will shy away from the 1916-D.
“Promotion companies don’t like to spend too much on the coins,” he said. “If they bought a 1916-D, they’ll only make about 5 percent back on it. They’d rather buy the 1916 or 1916-S dimes and earn triple what they spent on them.”
As for the current Mercury dime coin market, collectors looking to buy a 1916-D from any dealer may be interested to learn the market for that date has weakened recently, he said.
“The 1916-D’s price seems a little soft right now like some other key date coins such as the 1942/1 dime,” he said.
Likewise, the semi-key date 1921 and 1921-D Mercury dimes are weakening in price, due to a large supply on the market, he said.
“We are seeing glut of 1921 dimes in low grades,” he said. “At large coin shows like FUN, I’ll see at least 150 of them,” Rosencrans said.
Miller said that only high circulated grade 1921 and 1921-D dimes are holding their value.
“In fine to very fine grades, their price hasn’t moved much,” he said. “However, those dates in extremely fine to about uncirculated are going strong.”
There are certain date and grade Mercury dimes to watch out for as good buys, he said.
“Any of the branch mint coins of the 1910s and 1920s in very fine to about uncirculated grades,” Miller said. “It’s tough to find them, but those dates and grades sell very well.”
Rosencrans said a few dates stand out as particularly strong sellers right now.
“Dates I watch for are the 1924-D, 1925-S, 1926-S and the 1920-S,” he said. “These are dates I don’t see many of.
“Also, surprisingly, the 1930-S is hard to come by in higher grades. If you look at the coin’s prices, you’ll see it doesn’t do much until it doubles in price in extremely fine and doubles again in about uncirculated.”
Miller said collectors inspired by the Mercury dimes’ centennial will need to be cautious.
“Collectors should be careful of buying about uncirculated Mercury dimes that have been polished,” he said. “They may be cleaned somewhat aggressively to make them look better than they really are.”
As for later date Mint State, certified Mercury dimes, collectors should do pricing research first before buying.
“With certified coins, ultra-high-grade MS-66 and MS-67 Mercury dimes of the 1940s may seem worth much more than MS-65s, but are only worth a little bit more in reality,” he said “This is due to dime roll saving during that period, ultra high grades much more available.”
The Mercury dimes’ centennial is a perfect motivator for anyone interested in collecting the series. The good deals on today’s market only adds to that motivation.