1796 Draped Bust Dime: A Complete Guide

1796 Draped Bust Dime

The 1796 Draped Bust Dime is a significant piece in American numismatic history. As the first year of issue for the Draped Bust Dime series, this coin has huge historical and collectible value. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview, covering its introduction, history, features, design, rarity, condition, errors, value, and a concluding summary.


The 1796 Draped Bust Dime marks an essential chapter in U.S. coinage history. Designed by Robert Scot, this coin represents a transition in the design aesthetics of American currency, moving from the Flowing Hairstyle to the more classical Draped Bust.

History of the 1796 Draped Bust Dime

The Coinage Act of 1792 established the U.S. Mint, leading to the creation of the first official U.S. coins. The Draped Bust design, introduced in 1795, was adopted for several denominations, including the dime in 1796.

Introduction of the Draped Bust Design

The Draped Bust design was introduced to give American coinage a more refined and classical appearance. Robert Scot, the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, created this design based on a portrait by artist Gilbert Stuart.

Features of the 1796 Draped Bust Dime


Designer: Robert Scot

Edge: Reeded

Diameter: 19.80 millimeters

Weight: 2.70 grams

Mintage: 22,135

Mint: Philadelphia

Metal Composition: 89.2% Silver, 10.8% Copper

Auction Record: $372,000 (MS66+ grade) on January 15, 2023, at Heritage Auctions

Who Designed the 1796, Draped Bust Dime?

Both the obverse and reverse of the 1796 Draped Bust Dime were designed by Robert Scot.

Obverse Design

The obverse of the 1796 Draped Bust Dime features a right-facing portrait of Liberty, with flowing hair and a draped bust. The text “LIBERTY” is written above her head, and the date “1796” is shown below the coin. Thirteen stars surround the portrait, representing the original thirteen colonies that had confirmed the Constitution.

Reverse Design

The reverse design features a small eagle with a wreath around it. The word “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” inscription the design. Unlike later dimes, there is no denomination marking on the coin.

Rarity and Condition

Mintage and Rarity

With a mintage of only 22,135, the 1796 Draped Bust Dime is considered rare. Its limited production and historical significance contribute to its desirability among collectors.

Grading and Condition

The value of a 1796 Draped Bust Dime heavily depends on its condition. Coins are graded from Mint State (MS-70) to Poor (P-1). High-grade examples, especially those in Mint State, are exceedingly rare and valuable.

Errors and Varieties

In America, dime coins were struck in 1796. The 1796 Draped Bust Half Dime comes with many variations. One of the errors was the 1796/5 overdate, which made a “5” visible under the “6” since the 1796 date was struck over the 1795 date. A weaker strike on the letter “B” in the word “LIBERTY” caused the letter to appear cracked at the top and bottom. 

This variation is referred to as the “LIKERTY” form. As a result, the “B” evolved a curled-arm look similar to a “K”.  

Errors and varieties can significantly impact the value of a coin. For the 1796 Draped Bust Dime, known varieties include differences in the placement and number of stars. Errors might include misstrikes or planchet flaws, adding to the coin’s uniqueness and value.

Value of the 1796 Draped Bust Dime

The value of a 1796 Draped Bust Dime varies greatly depending on its condition, rarity, and presence of any errors or varieties. As of recent auctions, high-grade examples can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. For instance, a 1796 Draped Bust Dime in MS66+ condition sold for $372,000 at a Heritage Auctions event in January 2023.

Also Read – 1803 Draped Bust Dime: A Guide for Coin Enthusiasts

Bottom Line

The 1796 Draped Bust Dime is a cornerstone of early American numismatics. Its historical significance, coupled with its rarity and classical design, makes it a highly coveted piece for collectors. Whether you’re a seasoned numismatist or a new collector, understanding the intricacies of this coin can enhance your appreciation and guide your collecting endeavors.


Q. What makes the 1796 Draped Bust Dime so valuable?

Its historical significance as the first Draped Bust Dime, combined with its rarity and classical design, makes it highly valuable.

Q. How can I determine the condition of my 1796 Draped Bust Dime?

Coins are graded by professional grading services on a scale from Poor (P-1) to Mint State (MS-70). A detailed inspection by a professional is recommended for accurate grading.

Q. Are there any known errors for the 1796 Draped Bust Dime?

Yes, there are known varieties and errors, such as differences in star placement and planchet flaws, which can increase the coin’s value.

Q. What should I consider before purchasing a 1796 Draped Bust Dime?

Consider the coin’s condition, authenticity, and any potential errors or varieties. Purchasing from reputable dealers and obtaining certification from grading services can ensure authenticity and quality.

Q. How can I preserve the condition of my 1796 Draped Bust Dime?

Store the coin in a climate-controlled environment, use proper coin holders, and handle it with clean hands or gloves to preserve its condition

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