Barber Dimes, 1892-1916
Issued Date: 1892-1916
Composition: 0.900 parts silver, 0.100-part copper
Diameter: 17.9 mm.
Weight: 38.58 grains
Total Business strike mintage: 504,317,075
Total Proof strike mintage: 17,353
Charles Barber’s staid, and to some, unappealing, Liberty head design for the dime was used annually from 1892 to 1916. Millions of Barber Dimes were produced, with the highest yearly production exceeding 34 million coins in 1907. During its 24 year life span, many Barber Dimes which are now scarce were produced, including the recently discovered 1893/2 overdate and the very rare 1894-S branch mint proofs.
The 1894-S proof deserves special mention, since it was not an authorized Mint issue. The occasion for its striking may have been the Golden Jubilee of dime production, but this is only an educated guess. The generally accepted theory is that, in 1894, a friend of Mint Superintendent Daggett, upon learning that no dimes were to be struck that year, persuaded Daggett to have special strikings made. Supposedly 24 proofs were struck and divided equally between eight people, including Superintendent Daggett who gave his three to his daughter. (She supposedly spent one for a dish of ice cream!) At present, only 12 genuine specimens have been uncovered; including two of which are well circulated.
In 1892 the dime, quarter, and half dollar denomination were redesigned. A Liberty Head motif common to all three denominations made its appearance the same year. Known as the Barber dime, the ten-cent denomination featured on the obverse Miss Liberty facing right, her hair in a Phrygian cap and wearing a laurel wreath, with the word LIBERTY in tiny letters in a band above her forehead. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds, and the date is below. The reverse is of the same design used earlier and features a large wreath enclosing ONE DIME. There was no room for the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the coin, so it was omitted. It is not generally realized that the obverse design of the dime differs from that of the quarter and half dollar, in that the latter denominations have stars around the obverse periphery.
While there are a number of scarcities and rarities in the 1892-1916 Barber series, the exceedingly rare 1894-S Barber dime being famous among them, there are enough common dates that the type set collector will encounter no difficulty acquiring an example in any desired grade from Good though AU. Uncirculated pieces are elusive, although hardly rare, while superb Uncirculated coins are more difficult to find. Proofs were minted each year from 1892 to 1915 (but not 1916) for collectors, and these can be obtained with some searching.