1938 S Mercury Dime: A Collector’s Guide

1938 S Mercury Dime

The US Mint, famous for producing some of the most popular and collectible coins in the world, struck the Mercury Dime from 1916 to 1945. Among these, the 1938-S Mercury Dime has a special position for collectors. This guide explores the history, design, and collectible aspects of this notable coin.

The 1938-S Mercury Dime struck in San Francisco, is part of the iconic Winged Liberty Head series, usually called the Mercury Dime series. Made of 90% silver and 10% copper, this coin is a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the US Mint. With a mintage of 8,090,000, it stands out for its historical value and beauty.

History of 1938 S Mercury Dime

The Mercury Dime series was introduced in 1916, and designed by Adolph A. Weinman. The 1938-S edition is especially unique as it was one of the last Mercury Dimes made before the series ended in 1945. Despite its relatively high mintage, the 1938-S Mercury Dime is highly sought after in circulated and uncirculated conditions. Its rarity in higher grades, especially MS68, adds to its allure among collectors.

Specification:

  • Category: Mercury Dimes (1916-1945)
  • Mint: San Francisco
  • Mintage: 8,090,000
  • Obverse Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
  • Reverse Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
  • Composition: Silver
  • Fineness: 0.9
  • Weight: 2.5g
  • ASW: 0.0723oz
  • Melt Value: $2.12 (7/2/2024)
  • Diameter: 17.8mm
  • Edge: Reeded

Basic Design

Obverse

The obverse of the 1938-S Mercury Dime features a profile of Winged Liberty, usually mistaken for the Roman god Mercury. Liberty is shown facing left, with her winged cap representing freedom of thought. Around the periphery is the word “LIBERTY,” and to the left of Liberty’s neck is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The date is positioned below the bust at approximately 5 o’clock. The designer’s initials, “AW” for Adolph A. Weinman, are found to the right of the neck.

Reverse

The reverse showcases a large torch, symbolizing liberty and enlightenment, adorned with an axe head and olive branches representing peace and strength. Encircling the torch are the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “ONE DIME.” The mint mark, if present, seems near the bottom rim to the left of the torch.

Collectibility and Value Of 1938 S Mercury Dime

The 1938-S Mercury Dime is relatively common, with many examples available in circulated grades. However, uncirculated specimens, especially those with Full Bands (where the bands on the torch are fully separated), are highly prized. 

The coin remains accessible through MS66, but higher grades like MS68 are much rarer and command significant premiums. A rainbow-mottled example graded PCGS/CAC MS68 set a record for the series, fetching an impressive $364,250 in June 2019.

According to the NGC Price Guide, a Mercury Dime from 1938 in the circulated condition is worth between $2.50 and $14.50, as of July 2024. However, 1938 S Dimes in pristine, uncirculated condition sell for as much as $725 on the open market.

Also Read – 1894 S Barber Dime: A Guide for Coin Enthusiasts

Conclusion:

The 1938-S Mercury Dime is a fascinating piece of numismatic history, representing the elegance and accuracy of early 20th-century coinage. Its design, historical context, and varying rarity make it a special addition to any collection. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a new enthusiast, the 1938-S Mercury Dime offers a unique glimpse into America’s rich numismatic legacy.

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