In all the world of numismatics, no coin has enjoyed a more apt allusion to history than the Mercury dime, which derives its name from the Roman patron God of financial fortune and commerce.
The Mercury Dime: Symbol of American Liberty and Strength
Sculptor Adolph Weinman designed the Winged Liberty Head dime, popularly known as the “Mercury dime,” in 1915. A former student of revered sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Weinman utilized his teacher’s classical aesthetic to assert America’s liberty and strength in the face of a modern threat: World War I.
The obverse of the coin depicts the principle of liberty upon which the country was founded and the reverse the strength with which its founders fought for and secured that freedom—one that could be summoned again to protect our hard-won independence at any time. The goddess Liberty graces the obverse donning a winged Phrygian cap, a soft conical hat dating back to antiquity that has come to be associated with freedom. Confusion over the coin’s name originates from the wings on the cap, as Mercury is also considered to be the messenger god. Inscriptions of “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” “2016” and “AW,” the designer’s initials, encircle her.
A leather-bound bundle of wooden rods supporting an axe blade, known as a Fasces, occupies the center of the reverse. In Roman times, bodyguards protected magistrates with such weapons, which symbolized “the power to kill mercifully by the blade or mercilessly by the rods.” An olive branch—the classical symbol “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and “ONE DIME,” are engraved around this powerful image.
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The Mercury Dime: Part of the Canon of Artistic American Coinage
Not all American coins were conceived in the artistic mind of a sculptor. Infamous, longtime Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber designed the Mercury dime’s predecessor, along with the quarter dollar and half dollar, in 1892. Public reception of the Barber coinage was poor. Perhaps, it was this coinage that President Theodore Roosevelt was referencing in 1904 when he wrote these disparaging words to Treasury Secretary Leslie Shaw: “I think our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness.” 3
Motivated by these views, Roosevelt sought skilled and famous sculptors to reshape the face of American coinage. Thanks to him, we have the Saint-Gaudens double eagle and eagle and the Pratt-Bigelow half and quarter eagle. The Mercury Dime carried this tradition forward and found its place among the country’s most brilliant coinage.
2016 W Gold Mercury Dime Celebrates the Centennial Anniversary
“The demand for these coins is exceedingly great. Everyone to whom the coins have been shown here thinks they are beautiful.” –Mint Director Robert Woolley 4
From their release in 1916 up until 1945 when the visage of the late president Franklin Roosevelt replaced Lady Liberty on the obverse, Mercury dimes were wildly popular. In honor of their centennial anniversary, the U.S. Mint reproduced the coin in 24-karat gold last year. As with the original, demand for the 2016 W Gold Mercury dime was outstanding, with the coins selling out within an hour of hitting the market.
Collectors can enjoy all the glory of this celebrated coin but with the added glitter of gold. Only a few adjustments were made to the design: the West Point “W” mintmark was added to the obverse and AU 24k 1/10 OZ—a nod to the coin’s denomination—on the reverse.
2016 W Gold Mercury Dime Specs:
|Composition:||99.99% fine gold|
|Weight:||0.1000 Troy oz. (3.110 g)|
|Diameter:||0.650 in. (16.50 mm)|
|Thickness:||0.047 in. (1.19 mm)|
|Mint Mark:||W – West Point|
High Demand, Limited Supply
While demand for the 2016 W Gold Mercury dime is high, supplies are quite limited: only 125,000 were minted. We’re proud to announce that we’ve secured some of these coveted coins, at a SP70 by PCGS nonetheless! To seize this opportunity to add one to your collection, call 1-888-812-9892.