1966 Dime: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
The 1966 Roosevelt dime was minted during a tumultuous transitional period for the coin.
It is a coin which bridges two eras and bears a unique distinction as being produced in one of three years where mint marks were banned, leaving no tell as to where your particular 1966 Roosevelt dime may have been minted.
The Roosevelt dime’s inception came in 1946, just a year after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s battle with polio led to his passing.
Before his death, Roosevelt helped to found the March of Dimes, the purpose of which was to push forward the fight against the crippling disease.
His staunch support for the March of Dimes and his undoubted place at the apex of the pantheon of American presidents was the impetus for a bill which was introduced not even a month after his passing by Louisiana representative James Hobson Morrison, calling for the Mercury Dime to be replaced by a new Roosevelt dime.
Just two weeks later, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. announced that a new Roosevelt dime would replace the Mercury dime, beginning circulation at the end of the year.
Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock’s initial designs for the coin drew the ire of the Commission of Fine Arts due to various aesthetic qualms, so much so that the Commission tried to spearhead a five-person competition to oust Sinnock in October.
Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross declined due to external pressure to have the new coins released for the March of Dimes in January 1946.
Despite conjecture, appeals, and rejection, Sinnock finally created a layout that was approved on January 8th. Production was started immediately to coincide with the ongoing March of Dimes.
From 1946-64, Roosevelt dimes were composed of 90% silver and 10% copper.
In the midst of coin shortages and an increased valuation in silver, the Coinage Act of 1965 eliminated the dime’s silver component in favor of a copper-core coin with copper-nickel sandwiching it.
The 1966 Roosevelt dime marks just the second year of the coin’s new composition, bearing no mint mark for coins made in Denver or San Francisco – done in hopes of deterring what the Mint believed were coin hoarders causing coin shortages by hoarding mintmarked coins for their potential value spike.
Mint marks resumed in 1968, and the Roosevelt dime remains a staple of United States currency to this day.
Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
Total Produced: 1,382,734,540 (no mint marks)
Weight: 2.268 g
Diameter: 17.91 mm
Edge Type: Reeded
Composition: 0.750 copper, 0.250 nickel
Designer: John R. Sinnock
Obverse Features: Sinnock’s initial portrayals of Franklin Roosevelt were met with fiery disapproval by the Commission of Fine Arts.
Upon initial viewing of the models, Commission chairman Gilmore Clarke called them “not good” and said they needed “more dignity.”
Sinnock would finally get a version approved after a long battle, and what a relief that he did!
His visage of Roosevelt has a humanity to its depth and use of shading.
The eyes, pupils angled upwards, convey both compassion and contemplation with precision.
The phrase “LIBERTY” rainbows the length of Roosevelt’s face on the left edge of the obverse.
The phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” is condensed on two horizontal lines on the bottom left of the obverse in the space made between Roosevelt’s chin and neck.
Designer John R Sinnock’s initials appear in small text underneath Roosevelt’s neck (closer to the front), while the mintage date appears in a horizontal line just above and to the right of Sinnock’s initials.
Reverse Features: One of Sinnock’s initial designs for the reverse had a disembodied hand holding a torch with branches of olive and oak in grasp.
That design was also cause for disapproval by the Commission of Fine Arts, with the end design settling on a centered torch and a branch of olive and oak standing on each side.
In one of the most interesting phrasing placements you’ll see on a United States coin, the phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM” runs horizontal through the bottom of the torch and branches, cut into five distinct sections with condensed centered dots separating the words.
It’s a unique design touch which gives the reverse a strange modernist appeal.
The phrase “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” rainbows over the imagery on the top half of the reverse’s rim, whilst the phrase “ONE DIME” mirrors it on the bottom.
Those two phrases are separated by dots which also fall in horizontal line with the positioning of “E PLURIBUS UNUM” on the coin.
Errors and Variations
In order for a 1966 Roosevelt dime (that’s not in near-mint or mint condition) to be considered for purchase by most coin collectors, there must be some sort of noteworthy defect present.
And because of the sheer amount of 1966 Roosevelt dimes that were produced, such defects exist in relatively considerable quantities.
One interesting example was the result of a misplaced die marker which had imprinted the number “5” on Roosevelt’s cheek.
Estimates for the value of this particular coin have hovered around $2,000.
Other potential collector’s gems include extremely rare double-die errors which will clearly display two rows of letters, numbers, or images on at least a portion of the coin.
These are the real stars of the bunch, commanding anywhere from $4,000 to a staggering $125,000 at auction!
Coins with a clipped planchet and warped composition are valued around $30, while off-center strikes can go from $10 to $20 depending on how off the strike was.
Finally, there are rare cases of 1966 Roosevelt dimes which are missing a clad layer.
These coins weigh less than a normal dime and can fetch around $600 from serious collectors.
Grading and Condition Issues
Grading a 1966 Roosevelt dime is interesting business, considering there is no real collector’s value for the coin unless you’re at the very tip top of the uncirculated spectrum.
Regardless, the two tells for grading a Roosevelt dime lie in Roosevelt’s hair on the obverse and the torch (and its accompanying flame) on the reverse.
If the line work remains plain and the vertical lines are intact on the torch itself, you could very well have a dime in Extremely Fine (EF-40) condition or better.
The less definition you see in these areas, the more likely the coin is somewhere in the Good (G-4) to Very Good (VG-8) range.
The only market valuable non-error 1964 Roosevelt dimes are Choice Uncirculated (MS-65) and above, and those will have nothing more that a few light scattered marks along with a noticeable mint luster still present.
The 1966 Roosevelt dime was minted in extremely large numbers and has no valuable silver content, causing most coin collectors to pass on them unless dealing with a peculiar rarity or error.
The history of the coin is rich, but that’s about it.
The few Choice Uncirculated 1966 Roosevelt dimes out there fetch a solid $2 to $2.50 at auction.
Note: A rare certified mint (MS+) 1966 Roosevelt dime goes for about $55 on the auction market.
Good (G-4) to Uncirculated (MS-60): face value or just above
Choice Uncirculated (MS-63): $2.36