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    Description

    1916 Mercury Dime Pattern, PR64
    Judd-1984, The Only Known Example
    Ex: Newcomer-Bareford-Hayes

    1916 10C Mercury Dime, Judd-1984, Pollock-2044, Unique, PR64 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Simpson. The overall design closely resembles that of the regular-issue Mercury dime, but there are numerous differences in the finer details. The bust truncation is flatter at the front and more curved toward the back. The letters in LIBERTY are arranged asymmetrically. The lowest horizontal bands on the fasces show two splits instead of one. The reverse legends and design elements are closer to the borders, and the branch and leaves are noticeably different than the regular issue. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

    The nature of these 1916 patterns is distinct from that of their 19th century counterparts. Roger Burdette explains in Renaissance of American Coinage, 1916-1921:

    "The year 1916 saw the largest group of experimental (or pattern) coins produced by the U.S. Mint since the late 1870s. Unlike most nineteenth century patterns -- samples intended to show officials what a potential coin design would look like before a design was accepted -- the designs for the three subsidiary coins had been approved before any of the experimental coins were made. The 1916 coins were intended to show the accepted designs in the final forms immediately prior to commencement of production. This affected the coinage in three ways: first, with one documented exception, the experimental coins were not intentionally made with special finishing such as sandblast or brilliant proof. Second, they were struck at ordinary production pressures on normal planchets rather than at high pressure on specially prepared blanks. Third, they were 'experimental coins' and were expected to be examined by the mint and the artists for their faults rather than their virtues."



    In the case of this particular 1916 dime pattern, Judd-1984, Pollock-2044, it is believed the coins were actually minted in large quantities and originally intended for circulation. Burdette, writing for USPatterns.com, explains that the designs were approved around August 20th, 1916. He adds that they were:

    "Intended for circulation with up to 2,000,000 made between August 30 and September 6 on order of Acting Director Frank Chaffin. Production halted when tests by AT&T discovered the coins were too thick at the rim (due to 'fin' or 'wire rim') and stuck in their phone pay boxes. Nearly all condemned and melted. At least 50 specimens left the Mint for testing, and the Director's office; 40 accounted for as returned; others not located."



    This is the only known example. Perhaps the others found their way into circulation and have been lost to time. Perhaps this is the only one that escaped being returned and melted. Satiny silver-gray surfaces exhibit wisps of golden color in a distinct pattern that simplifies attribution. Clearly well-struck. This piece has been called the most famous and desirable of the experimental 1916 dimes. Be prepared to bid accordingly.
    Ex: Waldo C. Newcomer Collection; Wayte Raymond; ANA Convention Sale (Abe Kosoff, 8/1958), lot 74; Harold Bareford Collection (Stack's 10/1981), lot 318; Jimmy Hayes Collection (Stack's 10/1985), lot 30; Auction '88 (Superior, 7/1988), lot 105; Elite Coin Auction (Superior Galleries, 7/2003), lot 491; Samuel J. Berngard Collection (Stack's 7/2008), lot 4248.
    Collecting Patterns – A Brief History and Commentary

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 12151)


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2020
    17th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 34
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