Who is on the Dime?

Who is on the Dime?
Posted on June 19, 2024 by BOLD Precious Metals

The dime—or a cent—has an interesting and compelling history. In so many ways, for hundreds of years now, a dime has been an essential part of American life, from daily transactions to the efforts of collecting valuable coins. For such a small coin, the dime is truly valuable and packed with history. And it all begins by knowing who is on the dime!

When you find a dime, you may not be able to immediately identify the person portrayed on it, especially since all US dimes in circulation today feature the image of a US president on the front side (and sometimes the reverse).

It would be interesting to know that each time we handle a dime, we are handling a piece of American history. So, let's take a step back into the fascinating history of the US dime and unravel some interesting trivia associated with this important part of our currency

     Historical Background of the Dime

From 1933 to 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also known as FDR, led the United States as its 32nd president. He had to deal with a severe economic depression while in office.

Historical Background of the Dime

Roosevelt used the New Deal, a series of laws and executive orders, to combat the crisis and provide both economic growth and relief to unemployed people and struggling farmers.

Not only did he take office in the midst of the Great Depression, but he also guided his nation through most of World War II.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is credited by many with helping the American people believe in themselves again.

The difficulties he faced as president were only the beginning.

Roosevelt became ill with polio at the age of 39 after traveling to New Brunswick in August 1921 for a family vacation. Put another way, Roosevelt not only had to deal with and overcome a crippling and potentially fatal illness during his eight years in the oval office.

Unfortunately, Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia, due to a cerebral hemorrhage.

The Roosevelt Dime

The United States Congress decided to honor President Roosevelt by having his likeness appear on a coin after his passing. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis chose the dime as a tribute to its strong association with the establishment of the March of Dimes.

The goal was to gather money for polio research and development. In essence, participants paid 10 cents (one dime) to purchase lapel pins as a form of program support.

The program began in the weeks before President Roosevelt's birthday on January 30, 1938, when radio host Eddie Cantor urged listeners to send dimes to the White House in exchange for their spare change.

As a result of the campaign's incredible success and its estimated $268,000 in donations, Roosevelt expressed his gratitude to the country on television:

" The White House has been receiving bags of mail over the last few days—literally, by the truckload. The White House mailroom received between forty and fifty thousand letters yesterday. Even more today, I'm not sure how many, as we can only determine the precise number by tallying the mailbags. All the envelopes contain pennies, quarters, and even dollar bills, which are presents from adults and kids, primarily from kids who wish to support the medical needs of other kids. Having a piece of art like this linked to one's birthday is truly magnificent." — Franklin D. Roosevelt during his January 30, 1938, birthday broadcast.

Roosevelt's Fight Against Polio

Roosevelt did not let the diagnosis of polio deter him. In addition to serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and vice president on the Democratic ticket in 1920, he had previously been elected as a state senator from New York in 1910.

He began going to warm springs in 1926 to swim in the thermal spring waters as a polio remedy. He used his own funds to buy the Warm Springs property in Georgia that same year, and the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation was established the following year, taking its name from the healing springs he had utilized to combat polio.

A permanent hydrotherapeutic center designation for Warm Springs was suggested by the American Orthopaedic Association in 1927.

It wasn't until 1955 that the polio vaccine was deemed safe and effective. In the United States, polio cases had decreased by 90% by 1957. Though Franklin Roosevelt was tragically unable to recover, his actions saved thousands of children and Americans worldwide.

It is true that he should be honored on a US coin for his contributions to the polio treatment.

     Who is on the Dime?

Who is on the Dime?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, is the current image on the obverse (front) of the dime. The Roosevelt Dime was created in 1946, shortly after President Roosevelt passed away, as a way to remember and celebrate the man who guided the country through both World War II and the Great Depression. John R. Sinnock, the Chief Engraver at the U.S. Mint at the time, created Roosevelt's portrait.

Roosevelt was selected for the dime in part because of his involvement with the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that was founded to fight polio, which Roosevelt himself contracted. This was the way it was felt appropriate to pay tribute to him, preserving his legacy on the dime.

The dime's reverse side depicts an oak branch, which stands for strength and independence, an olive branch, which represents peace, and a torch, which represents liberty. John R. Sinnock is credited with creating this design, which has been on the dime since 1946.

     Design Evolution of the Dime

American coins that were in circulation at one point were composed of either gold or silver.

The United States Mint began producing small silver coins, or dimes, in 1796. The following is a list of every dime that has been struck in the United States since 1796:

Roosevelt Designs

  • Draped Bust (1796-1807)

  • Draped Bust (1796-1807)

    The Draped Bust design can be seen on the dimes that were minted between 1796 and 1807.

    The back featured an eagle with a wreath encircling it. Over time, the design underwent modifications, including the addition of a ribbon bearing the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM and a shield on the eagle's breast. Arrows and an olive branch that the eagle's talons were holding were also added.

    The picture is surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    The coin has no markings indicating its value or denomination.

  • Capped Bust (1809-1837)

  • Capped Bust (1809-1837)

    The Capped Bust dime was introduced in 1809 and looked much like the half dollar since 1807. Liberty is on the obverse, her hair down to her shoulders under a cap tied with a band that says LIBERTY.

    Her bust is covered with a cloth or gown that is kept in place by a brooch or clasp. Below the date, there are seven stars on the left side and six on the right side.

    The picture is surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    The coin has no markings indicating its value or denomination.

  • Seated Liberty (1837-1891)

  • Seated Liberty (1837-1891)

    Similar to the half dime, the dime's design was altered in 1860.

    The United States of America, which had previously been on the reverse, was added in place of the stars, while the Liberty Seated motif on the obverse was kept. The larger format of the reverse wreath encloses the denomination, which is written as ONE DIME.

    Continuous production in this style was done between 1860 and 1891. During that time, several rare issues were produced, such as the Carson City issues from the early 1870s. The dates 1873 and 1874 were once more accompanied by arrowheads on the dime, this time denoting a minor weight increase.

  • Barber Dime (1892-1916)

  • Barber Dime (1892-1916)

    The half-dollar, quarter, and dime denominations underwent redesigns in 1892.

    The ten-cent coin, also referred to as the Barber dime, had Lady Liberty facing right, a laurel wreath around her head, and the word LIBERTY written in small letters in a band above her forehead.

    The date appears below the image, surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The words "ONE DIME" are surrounded by a sizable wreath on the reverse.

  • Mercury Dime (1916-1945)

  • Mercury Dime (1916-1945)

    The outdated Barber design, which had been in use since 1892, was replaced with a new Dime design in 1916. The new coin design, created by A.A. Weinman, showed a portrait of Miss Liberty facing left and donning a winged cap.

    Liberty Head with wings. The dime gained widespread recognition as the "Mercury Head" due to its resemblance to the Roman god Mercury.

    The reverse combines an olive branch with Roman fasces to symbolize America's readiness for war and its desire for peace. One of the most well-liked United States coin series in American numismatics is the Mercury Head Dime series.

     Interesting Fun Facts about the Dime

  • The word "dime" comes from the French word "disme", which means "tithe" or "tenth part". Thus, a dime is equivalent to one-tenth of a dollar.

  • In contrast to other coins, the dime has 118 "reeds"—ridges—around its edge. According to legend, the original purpose of the reeding was to stop coin clipping and counterfeiting.

  • The first coin featuring an active president at the time of release was the Roosevelt Dime.

    The 1916-D Mercury Dime is one of the rarest and most desirable dime varieties. Less than 264,000 were struck because of changes at the Denver Mint.

  • This is a special coin because it is small and thin and, therefore, easily recognized.

  • The original idea of "March of Dimes" was to raise funds for the fight against polio. It later switched to preventing congenital disabilities and reducing the high infant mortality rate after a vaccine was found and introduced in 1955.


In conclusion, the dime is more than just a small coin; it's a significant piece of American history. The image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the front serves as a reminder of his leadership through tough times and his fight against polio.

Each dime tells a story of perseverance, strength, and the collective effort to overcome challenges. So, the next time you hold a dime, remember you're holding a symbol of resilience and an important chapter of the nation's past. Add this historically significant coin to your collection.

BOLD offers tubes or bags of circulated Roosevelt coins at the lowest prices.

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