The “Mercury” dime’s adopted name is a misnomer. The coin’s obverse does not, as is commonly thought, depict the Roman messenger God. Instead, it features a stunning portrait of Liberty wearing a winged Phrygian cap that is meant to symbolize freedom of thought. Given this fact, the dime in question is more accurately called the Winged Liberty Head Dime, though since the name “Mercury” has been mistakenly applied for over ninety years, one doubts it will ever be replaced in the minds of many.
Whatever you may choose to call them, the dimes minted from 1916 through 1945 are widely thought to be the most beautiful small coins ever produced. Their designer, Adolph A. Weinman, was a former student of the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gauden, and his winning design for the Winged Liberty Head Dime ushered in a new and vital era in American coinage. Weinman’s Liberty is believed to be based upon a portrait bust he created of Elsie Kachel Stevens, the wife of the great American Modernist poet Wallace Stevens. The coin’s reverse, featuring a fasces and battle axe, a symbol of strength through unity since Roman times, juxtaposed with an olive branch, was intended to illustrate America’s readiness for war and desire for peace. These themes were deeply resonant at the time as World War I raged in Europe.
Winged Liberty Dimes were minted in Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (“S” mintmark), and Denver (“D”), are composed of .90% silver yielding .07234 troy ounces of pure silver per coin, and measure 17.9mm in diameter.
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|Metals Purity||90% Silver|