Do you ever stop to think about the current dime? I find it is not easy. It takes work.
The cent and the nickel popularly get thrown together in discussion because they cost too much to mint and everybody wonders whether they will see their compositions changed, or whether they will be abolished outright as the half cent, 2-cent and 3-cent pieces were.
Everybody seems to agree that the quarter is the most useful coin. Most people still feel comfortable using it and its cost of production is not out of line.
The half dollar and dollar coins are both studies in inconvenience. Whether either has any relevance to our daily lives is a question we debate as we use our credit and debit cards more and more.
That leaves the dime. I don’t think I’ve been excited by the dime since the 1982 error version showed up without the “P” mintmark. I thought then it was truly exciting. I thought the error would find a place with collectors that would rank as high as the 1955 doubled-die cent.
How wrong I was.
I based my reasoning on the fact that the error was easy to see. A missing mintmark is hard to ignore. But collectors seem to choose to ignore the whole coin, not just the mintmark.
The error dime price has remained for nearly 30 years right where it settled after initial reports of its discovery. An equivalent to the 1955 doubled die it surely is not.
That aside, I rarely get letters from readers mentioning what fun they are having looking for dimes in their change. Today we have 47 different dates for the copper-nickel clad coins in circulation. With “P” and “D” mintmarks in regular use since 1980 and no mintmarks for Philadelphia prior to that time, a full set is approaching 100 coins. There is even a 1996-W from a mint set.
How can a coin with roots in the Roman denarius have come to such a state?
I wonder. But collector interests do change over time. Perhaps interest in current dimes will make a comeback.
One thing I did notice while I was looking at mintage figures is that the relative importance of the dime in circulation is increasing even as collectors seem to be ignoring it.
In 1975 the U.S. Mint churned out 11 one-cent coins for every dime it produced. In 1985, the figure had shrunk to 8.4 one-cent coins for every dime. In 1995 it was 5.7 one-cent coins per dime and in 2005 it was down to just 2.75 one-cent coins per dime.
In absolute numbers, cent output was actually lower in 2005 than in 1995 whereas dime output was higher. The recent recession knocked down both dime and cent output. As mintages of both are bouncing back now, the relationship of 2.75 one-cent coins produced for every dime is still being followed fairly closely.
At least for circulation purposes, the dime is growing in importance. Will collector interest in it eventually increase as well? That depends on feelings and there is no math to provide an answer for that.