Some coins are more valuable for what they teach us than for their scarcity, and the 1955 Roosevelt dime definitely falls into this category.
Almost everything you could normally assume went exactly the opposite for the 1955 Roosevelt dime. Many think there is nothing exciting about Roosevelt dimes, but the 1955’s first surprise is that it turned out to be very low mintage.
Certainly on the list of not-so-exciting Roosevelt dimes would be those of the Philadelphia Mint, the assumption being that as the main facility it would produce the largest number of Roosevelt dimes in any given year. That too would prove to be wrong, because the 1955 Philadelphia mintage was the lowest at 12,828,381. That total was not only the lowest of the year, but it was also the lowest for any Roosevelt dime ever released into circulation.
Based on similar situations, one would think that the 1955 would be heavily hoarded and rise to high prices. This is partially true, which makes the story of the 1955 even more interesting.
The situation for collectors and dealers in 1955 was complicated. The year had started with all eyes on San Francisco since it was to be the last year of the facility’s coin production. San Francisco responded with the lowest mintage cent since the 1930s and that touched off an immediate scramble to find the 1955-S cent.
The 1955-S dime also caused a stir as its mintage was under 20 million. All the more interesting, however, were the 1955-D at 13,959,000 and 1955 at 12,838,381. This spurred another hunt for the three low mintage dimes of 1955.
However, many low mintage 1955 coins were overlooked with the discovery of a 1955 doubled-die obverse Lincoln cent. That was the big coin of 1955, but there was still hoarding of other good 1955 coins.
In theory, the 1955 dime should have brought high prices. It did bring a premium for a while, based primarily on speculation. Perhaps because the market was overloaded with potentially great coins, the 1955 Roosevelt dime as well as the 1955-D and 1955-S did not seem to live up to expectations.
When the price of silver rose to $50 an ounce in early 1980, owners of the 1955 suddenly found that their coins were worth well over face value. However, so was every other 90 percent silver dime. At the time any 90 percent silver dime was worth perhaps $3 or more. Still, there is little doubt that many chose to sell.
That brings us to today with the 1955 sitting at just $2.80 in MS-60, less than its silver price back in 1980. In MS-65 it is at $8.50, which is higher than many dates from the 1950s but not on par with the $26 1951-S or $60 1950-S, both of which had higher mintages.
Unfortunately the grading services do not help. Not enough 1955 dimes have been graded to compare numbers with other dates.
That leaves us where we have been for many years. The one sure thing is that the 1955 is a low mintage Roosevelt dime, but after that fact everything else is up in the air. The market seems content with the current prices, and there has been no big change in years. That may mean we have found the right price for the 1955 dime even though we have little reliable information.