1803 Draped Bust Dime: A Guide for Coin Enthusiasts

1803 Draped Bust Dime

The 1803 Draped Bust Dime is a unique piece of early American numismatic history certified by NGC in Mint State condition, this scarce and underrated coin captivates collectors with its satiny texture and rich original luster. Its surfaces show a stunning radiance of cobalt blue, champagne-gold, and spotted pinkish-rose when considered from different angles. Despite little softness along the upper obverse and lower reverse boundaries, the strike is nicely centered and the detail is bold. This beautiful coin will surely attract the attention of advanced early dime enthusiasts.

History of 1803 Draped Bust Dime

In 1803, the Philadelphia Mint struck 33,040 dimes to fulfill orders from bullion depositors. While it is unclear if all these coins were minted with 1803-dated dies or if some were produced in 1804, the 1803 Draped Bust Dime remains an elusive treasure in today’s market. Only 175 to 250 of these dimes are found in all grades, as determined by Winston Zack, Louis Scuderi, and Michael Sherill’s Bust Dime Variety Identification Guide.

The 1803 Draped Bust Dime features five known dead marriages, with three (JR-1, JR-2, and JR-5) being major rarities. The JR-4 variety is scarce and often found well-worn or impaired. The JR-3 variety, although more frequently encountered, is still a significant condition rarity. Only a handful of About Uncirculated (AU) coins exist for this issue, and with merely three or four known Mint State examples, the NGC MS-61 ranks high in the Condition Census for both the date and die pairing.


  • Year: 1803
  • Designer: Robert Scot
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Type: Draped Bust Dime
  • Metal Composition: 89% Silver, 11% Copper
  • Diameter: 19.80 millimeters
  • Weight: 2.70 grams
  • Mintage: 33,040
  • Mint: Philadelphia (No Mint Mark)
  • Auction Record: $48,300 (AU58, Bowers & Merena, 09-22-2002)
  • Minted at: Philadelphia (No Mint Mark)
  • Price Range: $1,018 – $30,506+
  • Face Value: 10 cents (0.10 USD)
  • Produced: 33,040

Basic Design:

Obverse (Front):

Robert Scot, the famous engraver, designed the unique Draped Bust design visible on the obverse of the 1803 Draped Bust Dime. Liberty, the primary number, appears looking right with her hair flowing and her clothes covered. The word “LIBERTY” appears on her head. The thirteen stars that surround Liberty on the coin’s edge represent the first thirteen colonies of the United States. Written under the bust is the date “1803”.

Reverse (Back):

The 1803 Draped Bust Dime has a complicated design on the reverse which features an eagle with its wings open. The eagle, carrying an olive branch and an array of arrows in its talons, indicates the country’s readiness for conflict as well as its yearning for peace. A collection of stars can be found in a small cloud above the eagle. Above the eagle is the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Ten cents appear with the amount “10 C.” within a wreath below the eagle.

Mint Mark Location:

The 1803 Draped Bust Dime without a mint mark. At this time, the Philadelphia Mint was just one place that continued to mint dimes, and coins produced there typically carried no mint mark.

Special Features:

  1. Edge Design: The 1803 Draped Bust Dime comes with a reeded edge with small grooves that provide it with an uncommon texture and help in detecting counterfeiting.
  2. Historical Context: The Draped Bust design, which represents the classical aesthetic that was popular at the time, represents an important era in early American coinage.
  3. Material Composition: The coin is made up of 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper, specific to the dimes made in this era.

Collectibility and Significance:

Since there were so few coins struck in this era and because of its historical value, collectors extremely valued the 1803 Draped Bust Dime. Because of its complex design and connection to early American history, numismatists will find value in this item.

Value of 1803 Draped Bust Dime:

The average circulated (AC) value of the 1803 Draped Bust Dime is about $1,018. On the other hand, it could be worth up to $30,506 at auction if you find one in certified mint state (MS+) condition. It is important to keep in mind that there isn’t a single, recognized coin grading system for values. One of the top coin grading companies has graded a coin as MS+ if it is in mint condition. But if it is categorized as standard circulated, it shows that the coin is in a condition that is similar to those that were commonly used in 1803.  

Also Read – 1800 Draped Bust Dime: A Numismatic Rarity


An interesting artifact from the early days of American currency is the 1803 Draped Bust Dime. Because of its extreme rarity, historical value, and complex design, with the collectors greatly value this object. This coin provides an awesome look into America’s rich numismatic history. 

The 1803 Draped Bust Dime, with its outstanding preservation and limited mintage, represents more than just a coin; it’s a piece of history that chronicles the history of a nascent country. Buying such a coin is a chance to hold a real reminder of early American heritage in addition to its likely financial value, which can vary greatly according to condition.

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