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The Underappreciated 1950-S Roosevelt Dime

A 1950-S Roosevelt dime graded MS-68 by PCGS. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com)

It is becoming increasingly apparent that we may need to give additional attention to the Roosevelt dime. In fact, it could probably be said that we need to give some attention to the Roosevelt dime simply because it is a bit uncertain whether there has ever really been any attention given to them since the day the first one was issued back in 1946. One of the reasons suggesting that we need to at least try to get some idea as to the availability of some Roosevelt dimes would have to be the 1950-S.

Historically speaking, it has generally been thought that the 1950-S was a better Roosevelt dime, at least in Mint State. The 20,440,000 mintage of the 1950-S was not enough to suggest that it was common but there were also a number of dates with lower totals, so the 1950-S was not seen as tougher either. Of course, the notion of a “tougher” Roosevelt dime is enough to make some start laughing in the first place since there is no Roosevelt dime even in MS-65 that is a major threat to break $100 any time soon. In fact, there are no MS-65 Roosevelt dimes about to break $75 in MS-65, so “tougher” is only used on rare occasions.

Overall, the 1950-S was a date that did not seem to be as available as some other Roosevelt dimes in Mint State. The Roosevelt dime everyone seemed to mention in one of those unusual moments when they mentioned any Roosevelt dime at all would be the 1949-S. With a mintage of 13,510,000 and a suspected minimal amount of saving as opposed to other low-mintage dates like the 1955 dimes from all three mints, the 1949-S seems to have that ideal combination of low mintage and poor saving that would make it a better date, at least based on prices.

The 1949-S was out in front of the others, but someone had noticed the 1950-S was also seemingly unavailable. It actually made sense. With a mintage that was not all that low and a 1950 date, the 1950-S was almost a natural for being overlooked. After all, in the same year, the 1950-D Jefferson nickel appeared. Given a choice back in 1950 of the 1950-S dime or the 1950-D Jefferson nickel, no one would have opted for the dime.

Back in 1998, the 1950-S Roosevelt dime was priced at $7 in MS-60, which actually was not as low as it sounds. Back then, there was no regular-date Roosevelt dime priced at even $10 in MS-60, with the 1949-S being the closest at $9. That made the 1950-S the second most expensive MS-60 Roosevelt dime, and few would have ever expected that.

In the years since 1998, the 1949-S has risen to $35 in MS-60, an impressive gain for any Roosevelt dime, but especially in MS-60 since we would normally expect the big increases to be in MS-65. In MS-65, the 1949-S is at $60 while the 1950-S is at $35.

What makes the whole matter even more interesting is that the current prices seem to have it backward. Grading services report that the 1949-S is more available in lower Mint State grades while the 1950-S in MS-65 and up seems to be the more difficult date in the upper grades.

For uncirculated rolls, the 1949-S is at $2,405 while the 1950-S sits at $1,690. In time, the 1950-S uncirculated rolls may very well catch up to the 1949-S.

Of course, the grading service totals may be suspect because the 1950-S has not been priced high enough to justify being sent in for grading. As a result, things could change significantly with more coins being submitted, just as prices could change significantly. All of that suggests that the time may be right to pay closer attention to Roosevelt dimes like the 1950-S since there may be more surprises.

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