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First Roosevelt dime

Anyone who thinks that nothing has happened with Roosevelt dimes in the past decade needs to take a look at the 1946 Roosevelt dime and its price movements in recent years and then try to figure out just what is happening with it.

On paper, the 1946 Roosevelt dime looks like the classic case of a common coin. You start with a mintage of 255,250,000, which was the highest Roosevelt dime mintage until the 1962-D. If you want a better date, that is hardly a promising situation, but it got worse.

The 1946 dime was the first Roosevelt. That usually means extra numbers were saved. We cannot really be certain precisely who saves the extra coins, but if you check grading service totals for the first year of any new design, you will almost always find that even in the highest grades the coins of the first year of the design are seen in greater numbers than the years that follow.

In some respects the pattern is a little hard to understand as the assumption would be that the added numbers saved of the first year of a new design would not be saved by collectors. It would seem likely that non-collectors would do the saving, and not being schooled in proper care of coins, poor handling and storage would almost certainly cause the coin to drop in grade over time.

If anything, the 1946 dime would have been more heavily saved than is usually the case. It was essentially a commemorative paying tribute to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died in office less than a year prior to the release of the first 1946. It was not exactly the same as the Kennedy half dollar, but it had to be similar as in Roosevelt you had one of the most popular presidents ever to hold office as is evidenced by his being elected four times. Moreover, his impact went far beyond simply elections. Much of the nation saw in Roosevelt a leader who had taken them through not only the Great Depression but also World War II. Coming so close after his death it would have only been natural for many to want to save their first Roosevelt dime and with that large mintage, which was much higher than the 1946-D or 1946-S, the odds were good that first Roosevelt dime would have been a Philadelphia.

Under the circumstances, it would be unlikely that we would see the 1946 increase significantly in price in any grade. Yet since 1998 the 1946 in MS-65 has moved from just $2.50 to $14. Moreover, it is now just $1 behind the much lower mintage 1946-D and $3 below the even lower mintage 1946-S.

We do not have extensive grading service numbers because the 1946 is still too inexpensive to be sent in for grading on a regular basis. The market might be more reliable and what the price increase is saying is that the 1946 is not available in the numbers we expect.

More Resources:

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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