In 1916, The United States Mint embarked on a new Liberty design for the dime, a denomination that had depicted an image of Lady Liberty since 1796. The new Winged Liberty Head design introduced on the dime in 1916 was created by Adolph A. Weinman, a sculptor who had another numismatic claim to fame beginning that year: the Walking Liberty half dollar. While the official name of Weinman’s dime design is “Winged Liberty Head,” it soon became more widely known as the “Mercury” dime because of the winged-capped figure’s close likeness to the Roman god of the same name.
Whether you prefer calling this coin a Winged Liberty Head dime or a Mercury dime, what’s indisputable is that the first year of the series began with a bang – at least in terms of rare coins. As is common among first-year coins from the early part of the 20th century, 1916 Mercury dimes spawned at least one significant rarity: the 1916-D. The 1916-D Mercury dime is to dime aficionados what the 1909-S V.D.B. penny is to Lincoln cent collectors: a truly desirable treasure.
The mintage numbers and approximate values below tell more of the story of the 1916-D Mercury dime’s scarceness compared to the other two Mercury dime issues that year:
1916, 22,180,080 minted; $5
1916-D, 264,000; $1,000
1916-S, 10,450,000; $6
*Values are for coins in Good-4.
When buying the 1916-D Mercury dime, it is prudent to purchase specimens that have been authenticated and are in sonically sealed slabs from a reputable third-party coin grading company. Avoid cleaned or damaged pieces if at all possible, unless you are trying to fill a hold in your album and that is the best you can afford. While any authentic specimens of the 1916-D Mercury dime are in high demand among coin collectors and investors, the best ones to spend your money on are those that are damage free and present good eye appeal for the grade.