The original “Mercury” dime was born in 1916, possibly as the result of a series of mistakes. The first, at least according to mint director Robert W. Woolley, was the design of existing U.S. coinage. He felt the 1892 coin designs by Charles E. Barber were dull and hard to produce. The second error came in the interpretation of the coinage laws. Mint officials thought that coin designs had to be changed every 25 years, when in fact the law only said that they could be changed without congressional approval.

Mercury Dime Gets Its Name

Nevertheless, a competition was held, and a design by sculptor Adolph Weinman was chosen. A bust of Liberty wearing a winged cap adorned the face (obverse) of the coin with a fasces representing strength and justice wrapped in an olive branch, the symbol of peace, on the reverse. This led to the third “mistake.” Because the image of Liberty with wings on her cap closely resembled popular depictions of the Roman god Mercury, people began erroneously calling it a Mercury dime, a name that persists to this day.

Centennial Commemoration Coin Replicas

Mistakes aside, most collectors consider the Mercury/Liberty dime one of the most beautiful U.S. coins, and to commemorate its centennial, the U.S. Treasury authorized the Mint to produce 125,000 replicas of the coin in 1/10-ounce 9999 fine 24-karat gold. While Weinman’s original design was maintained, his initials were added to the face and “AU 24K 1/10 OZ” appear below “E Pluribus Unum” on the reverse to indicate the coin’s weight and purity. The tenth-ounce weight is symbolic of the coin’s original denomination, and the coins have the “W” mint mark of the West Point, NY mint, the principal mint for modern U.S. gold commemorative coins.

2016 Mercury Dime Gold Coin

The 2016 Mercury Dime Gold Coin is one of three commemorative gold coins planned to celebrate the centennial of the new coin designs of 1916. The others are Standing Liberty quarters and Walking Liberty half-dollars, the release dates for which have yet to be announced. Because of the limited production of these coins, they are sure to become collector’s items. In fact, the Gold Mercury Dimes are already listed as unavailable on the U.S. Mint website. Limited supplies may still be available from individual coin dealers.

Celebrate and Collect

Gold and silver coins make great gifts to commemorate special events like births, weddings, and graduations. Coin and currency designs also offer a fascinating look at the history of not just the United States, but the entire world.

So whether you’re looking for unique gifts, a seasoned collector or just getting started, be sure to browse the selection of U.S. and foreign coins and banknotes available online from The Great American Coin Company®. Our inventory is constantly changing, so be sure to check back often.

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