Call it prejudice, call it lack of study, call it anything you want, but in a lot of cases, and especially in a set like the Barber dimes, the coins from Philadelphia sometimes do not get the attention they should receive.
There is no doubt that many times, the total mintages from the main facility in Philadelphia were higher than at other mints. In addition, at a time when many collected only by date the bulk of the nation’s collectors were closest to Philadelphia so the coin they had in their set would be one from Philadelphia, meaning you had higher mintages and better rates of saving.
Under those circumstances, it can get very easy to make assumptions regarding Philadelphia Barber dimes. More often than not, if the assumption is that they are available, you will be right. But then there is the 1895 Barber dime, and do not assume anything regarding the 1895.
The first of the usual assumptions to go by the wayside is the high mintage. The 1895 had a total mintage of just 690,080 pieces. That does not make it the lowest mintage Barber dime, but it certainly makes it a lower one.
The 1895 is not the key Barber dime even if you do not count the 24 mintage 1894-S, which is only found at prices above $1 million. There are regular Barber dime dates that still command higher prices than the 1895 in all grades, not the least of which is the 1895-O, which is much more costly than the 1895 in all grades.
Even so, the 1895 was a typical Barber dime in that it was not saved in large numbers. Even if a Barber dime was made in Philadelphia, there were not likely to be large numbers of collectors to save examples. Barber dimes were not heavily collected for a variety of reasons.
As a result, the average 1895 often circulated until it was retired and destroyed. We know that they circulated for a long time because the New York Subway Hoard was begun in the 1940s and it had 45 complete sets of Barber dimes. Thus, almost 50 years after being issued, the 1895 and other Barber dimes were still in circulation.
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The Mint State prices of the 1895 also indicate a lack of supply. An MS-60 is at $750 while an MS-65 is at $2,650. Like the $85 G-4 price, those levels suggest that the 1895 is at minimum a better date.
There are some interesting totals for the 1895 at the grading services. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports a total of 57 Mint State examples, and just five of that total were graded at MS-65 or higher.
At the Professional Coin Grading Service, the 1895 has been called Mint State 67 times with only 10 of those being MS-65 or better. Add that to the NGC MS-65 or better total and you still only have 15 coins, which is far too few for the current MS-65 price.
There is, however, a twist, in the form of proofs. In fact the proof mintage was 880 as the 1895 Barber dime was part of the same proof set as the famous 1895 proof-only Morgan dollar. The 1895 dollar is a classic rarity, while the 1895 Barber dime is seen by collectors in numbers to indicate it is in fact available, though it costs $1,485 in Proof-65. PCGS reports 119 examples in Proof-65 or better while NGC reports another 159 in Proof-65 or better.
Clearly it is the proof 1895 that makes a huge difference both in availability and price for the 1895 Barber dime in top grades. That said, the 1895 in any grade still has to be considered to be an excellent Barber dime and a date worth owning, even if it was made in Philadelphia.