It used to be that all you needed to know about the Mercury dime was the price of the 1916-D. Realistically, if you took a set to a dealer, he would look carefully at the 1916-D and barely notice the rest of the coins. In fairness, if the collection happened to include the 1942/41 overdate from Philadelphia or Denver the dealer might look at those. The rest of the coins in the set seemed to have little impact on the dealer’s offer for the set.
Of course, this little profile in time was back in the days prior to grading services and MS-65 being used for anything other than large cents. Full split bands were not yet known either.
Today, there are new rarities emerging. One of these is the 1919-D. The simple fact is no one really gave this coin much attention in the past. It was, after all, a date with a mintage of nearly 10 million. That could not be called high, but it was not low, either. In fact, there are any number of other Mercury dimes with lower mintages.
When people collected the set from circulation, the 1919-D was not all that tough. It could be found without too much trouble. As a result, what premium there was for the 1919-D was rather small.
As time passed, buyers became more demanding. The Mint State grading system invented in the 1940s became applied to all U.S. coins. Armed with the new grades, it began to dawn on collectors that something was up with the 1919-D. There was no great number of rolls, but it was a better date as was the case for most branch mint issues before 1920. Certainly there was no belief that the 1919-D would rival the 1916-D in top grades.
Even in 1998, if you checked the price of the 1919-D you found that it was $140 in MS-60, $1,800 in MS-65 and $5,600 in MS-65 with full split bands.
The MS-65 with full split bands price was interesting as it had the 1919-D below the 1916-D and overdates, but also below an assortment of other dates in the same grade such as the 1917-D as well as the 1918-D and 1918-S. The 1924-S and 1927-D were also more expensive.
Since 1998 the 1919-D has simply sprung to life. Today, it is $175 in MS-60. It is $2,100 in MS-65 and $38,500 in MS-65 with full split bands. That $38,500 value puts it ahead of all other dates now except the 1916-D, which is at $48,500.
The question is why has the 1919-D sprung to life in recent years and raced up the value chart?
The answer is the grading service numbers proved it was the least encountered MS-65 with full split bands. The 1916-D might be more expensive, but that is because of greater demand for the recognized key date. The supply of 1916-D coins in MS-65 with full split bands has at times actually been slightly higher than the 1919-D. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports 24 1916-D dimes in MS-65 with full split bands compared to 28 of the 1919-D in the same grade.
Realistically, a couple of other dates come close, but the 1919-D has the distinction of being in a close race with the 1916-D and this has caused the enormous price increases since 1998. While the numbers of graded coins will change over time, what will not likely change is the new relative value for the 1919-D.
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