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The dime is the smallest, thinnest coin used in the United States. The original spelling was "disme" because the word is based on the Latin word "decimus," meaning "one tenth" and was pronounced dime. The French used the word "disme" when they came up with the idea of money divided into ten parts in the 1500s, although they hadn’t implemented the idea.
Lady Liberty reigned on the early dime in different forms for many years. Usually just her head was shown, but her full body, seated on a rock, was used during the 1800s. She was shown with wings on her head from 1916 to 1945, and thus named the Mercury dime, after the Roman messenger god.
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America's Four United Republics
America's Four United Republics
By: Stanley Yavneh Klos
Soon after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, H.R. 4790 legislation was introduced by Virginia Congressman Ralph H. Daughton that called for the replacement of the Mercury dime with one bearing Roosevelt's image. The dime was chosen to honor Roosevelt partly due to his efforts in the founding of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (later renamed the March of Dimes), which originally raised money for polio research and to aid victims of the disease and their families. The public had been urged to send in a dime to the Foundation, and by Roosevelt's death, the Foundation was already popularly known as the "March of Dimes."
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Source: US Mint
Due to the limited amount of time available to design the new coin, the Roosevelt dime was the first regular-issue U.S. coin designed by a Mint employee in more than 40 years. Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock was chosen, as he had already designed due to his exceptional work designing a presidential medal of Roosevelt. Sinnock's first submission on October 12, 1945, was rejected, but a subsequent one was accepted on January 6, 1946 just 24 days before the January 30th release date, Roosevelt's 64th birthday.
Controversy immediately ensued, as strong anti-Communist sentiment in the United States led to the circulation of rumors that the "JS" engraved on the coin was the initials of Joseph Stalin, placed there by a Soviet agent in the mint. The Mint quickly issued a statement denying this, confirming that the initials were indeed Sinnock's.
|February 1, 1934 White House photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt waving a check that represents the proceeds from the first Birthday Ball at the White House.|
Another controversy surrounding Sinnock's design involves his image of Roosevelt. Soon after the coin's release, it was claimed that Sinnock borrowed his design of Roosevelt from a bas relief created by African American sculptor Selma Burke, unveiled at the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C. in September 1945. Sinnock denied this, claiming that he simply utilized his earlier design on the Roosevelt medal.
With the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965, the composition of the dime changed from 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper to a clad "sandwich" of pure copper inner layer between two outer layers of cupronickel (75% copper, 25% nickel) alloy giving a total composition of 91.67% Cu and 8.33% Ni. This composition was selected because it gave similar mass (now 2.268 grams instead of 2.5 grams) and electrical properties (important in vending machines)—and most importantly, because it contained no precious metal.
Soon after the change of composition, silver dimes (as well as silver quarters and half dollars) began to disappear from circulation, as people receiving them in change hoarded them (see Gresham's law). Although now rare in circulation, silver dimes may occasionally turn up in customers' change. In the late 1970s, the Hunt brothers cornered the worldwide silver market and drove the price far above its historic levels, intensifying the extraction of remaining silver coins from circulation.
Starting in 1992, the U.S. Mint reintroduced silver coins in its annual collectors sets. This included a 90 percent silver proof Roosevelt Dime, Washington Quarter(s) and Kennedy Half Dollar, a series that continues today.
Since 1946 the Roosevelt dime has been minted every year. Through 1955, all three mints, Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco produced circulating coinage; production at San Francisco ended in 1955, resuming in 1968 with proof coinage only. Through 1964 "D" and "S" mint marks can be found to the left of the torch. From 1968, the mint marks have appeared above the date. None were used in 1965–67, and Philadelphia did not show a mint mark until 1980 (in 1982, an error left the "P" off a small number of dimes, which are now valuable). To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the design, the 1996 mint sets included a "W" mint marked dime made at the West Point Mint. A total of 1,457,000 dimes were issued in the sets.
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In 2003, a group of conservative Republicans in Congress proposed removing Roosevelt's image from the dime, and replacing it with that of President Ronald Reagan, although he was still alive. Legislation to this effect was introduced in November 2003 by Indiana Representative Mark Souder. Among the more notable opponents of the legislation was Nancy Reagan, who in December 2003 stated that, "When our country chooses to honor a great president such as Franklin Roosevelt by placing his likeness on our currency, it would be wrong to remove him." After President Reagan's death in June 2004, the proposed legislation gained additional support. Souder, however, stated that he was not going to pursue the legislation any further. 2009 saw the lowest dime production since 1955 with just 146,000,000 dimes being made.
1999 Total Mint Production
Source: US Mint
Senate Passes H.R. 3187
March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act
On December 10, 2012, the US Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent which will authorize the commemorative coins in recognition and celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the March of Dimes Foundation. The bill was originally introduced on October 13, 2011 and passed in the House of Representatives on August 1, 2012.
March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act of 2012 - Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 500,000 $1 silver coins emblematic of the mission and programs of the March of Dimes.
Requires the design of the coins to be emblematic of the mission and programs of the March of Dimes and its record of generating Americans' support to protect our children's health.
Permits issuance of such coins only during the one-year period beginning on January 1, 2015.
Requires all surcharges received by the Secretary from the sale of such coins to be promptly paid to the March of Dimes to help finance research, education, and services aimed at improving the health of women, infants, and children.
Subjects the March of Dimes to federal audit requirements.
Instructs the Secretary to take necessary action to ensure that: (1) minting and issuing coins under this Act will not result in any net cost to the federal government; and (2) no funds, including applicable surcharges, shall be disbursed to March of Dimes to help finance research, education, and services aimed at improving the health of women, infants, and children until the total cost of designing and issuing the coins authorized by this Act is recovered by the Treasury.
Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes said, "Once again, a coin will help our nation fight a health threat to our children. During the Great Depression, citizens sent their precious dimes – 4 billion of them – to the White House to fund research in the successful fight against polio. Today, the sale of special commemorative coins will fund research to identify the causes of premature birth: A dime defeated polio; this commemorative dollar will fight prematurity."
If the bill becomes law, it provides for the minting and issuance of up to 500,000 silver dollars with a design "emblematic of the mission and programs of the March of Dimes, and its distinguished record of generating Americans’ support to protect our children’s health." The coins would be struck in 90% silver and 10% copper, with a weight of 26.73 grams and diameter of 1.500 inches. Both proof and uncirculated qualities would be available.
The March of Dimes was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis on January 3, 1938.