Some old coins can be worth a lot more than their face value. Collectors can be prepared to part with hundreds and even thousands of dollars for the right coins. But how do you know which coins are valuable and how do you determine their value?
In this article, we focus on the 1939 dime. We explore the value of the different varieties of this old coin and look at how to determine its value. In addition, we have included a list of 1939 dime errors that can increase the value of the coin.
1939 Dime Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated/ Proof|
|1939 No Mint Mark Dime Value||$3||$3.50||$4.75||$1250|
|1939 D Dime Value||$3||$3.35||$4.50||$450|
|1939 S Dime Value||$3.25||$4||$4.50||$800|
|1939 Proof Dime Value||–||–||–||$120 – $2,000|
1939 No Mint Mark Dime Value
In 1939, the Philadelphia mint produced 67,749,321 dimes. The Philadelphia coins are identifiable from the absence of the mint mark. Most 1939 dimes minted in Philadelphia were released into circulation. Because there were so many 1939 no-mint mark dimes, they are fairly common in both circulated and uncirculated states.
Philadelphia dimes in good circulated conditions are worth about $3 and extremely fine specimens are worth roughly $4.50. However, uncirculated 1939 no-mint mark dimes can be worth $1,250 or more.
The record price for a regular strike 1939 no mint mark dime is $6,600. The coin was graded as MS69 and sold at a Heritage Auctions sale. However, the most expensive 1939 dime minted in Philadelphia is an MS68-graded coin with full bands around the bundle of wood. In 2000, it sold for $12,650.
The Obverse Design of the 1939 Dime
The obverse of the 1939 dime, which is more commonly called the heads, has the portrait of Lady Liberty facing left. She is wearing a cap with wings perched on it right behind Lady Liberty’s ears. The wings were symbolic of freedom of thought.
The word LIBERTY runs along the top edge of the coin with the first and last letters just below the halfway point on both edges of the coin and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST is in smaller font in front of Lady Liberty’s throat. The date of the minting, 1939, is underneath the truncated portrait of Lady Liberty slightly right of the center.
The Reverse Design of the 1939 Dime
The reverse refers to the tail side of a coin and the image on the reverse of the 1939 dime features a bundle of wood rods standing vertically. They are held together by three bands. One at the top, one in the middle, and the last one at the bottom of the bundle.
An axe blade protrudes from behind the fasces on the top to the left and the ends of the axe’s handle can be seen protruding from the top and the bottom. The fasces was seen to represent the country’s readiness to protect its jurisdiction as well as the country at large. The fasces is ensconced by olive branches, symbolizing peace.
The wording UNITED STATES OF AMERIC runs along the rim on the top with a dot separating each word. The denomination ONE DIME curves along the bottom rim. A single star on either edge of the coin separates the denomination from the country’s name. The Latin phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the right of the bundle of wood.
Additional Features of the 1939 Dime
During 1939 the dime was still made with 90% silver and 10% copper. The coin had a diameter of 17.9 millimeters. It is 1.95 millimeters thick and weighs 2.5 grams. The coin’s edge is smooth.
The mint mark on the 1939 dime can be found on the reverse side of the coin, to the left of the fasces (a bundle of rods with an axe blade), and below the olive branch. If the coin was minted in San Francisco, it will have an “S” mint mark, while those minted in Denver will have a “D” mint mark.
1939 D Dime Value
At 24,394,000, the Denver facility produced fewer dimes in 1939 than the Philadelphia Mint. The coins from Denver were struck exceptionally well with strong impressions.
Because the coins were of such great quality, many people would hold on to them rather than use them. As a result of this coin hoarding, it is not that rare to find 1939 D dimes in an uncirculated condition.
At lower grades, the D-minted coins are valued very similarly to the coins made in Philadelphia. The differences in valuations only become evident at higher grades. For example, uncirculated coins from Denver are worth upwards of $450 and the auction record is only $617 from 2014.
However, 1939 D coins with full bands around the wood are rare and one known specimen has sold for considerably more than a full band no mint mark 1939 dime. The MS68 graded 1939 D dime sold for $42,300 in 2019.
History of the 1939 Dime
The 1939 dime is part of a series of dimes known as mercury dimes. They were first struck in 1916 and were designed to replace the Barber dime that had been in circulation for 25 years already.
To find a new design for the dime, The Treasury Department of the United States launched a competition. More than fifty designs were submitted for their consideration and the Treasury chose a design by Adolf Weinman. Weinman already had experience in working with coins having designed the half-dollar known as Walking Liberty.
Initially, the coin was supposed to be a collaboration between Weinman and Charles Barber the Chief Mint Engraver of the US Mint. However, Barber’s time at the US Mint ended before they could work together and Weinman completed it alone.
The Release of the First Mercury Dimes in 1916
The release of the mercury dimes was slightly delayed, but they were finally ready for circulation in October 1916. 4.5 million mercury dimes were minted in the first year. The public was not immediately impressed by Weinman’s Lady Liberty design, but after a while, its popularity grew.
The design by Weinman persevered during the Second World War and stayed in use until 1945 when it was replaced with the Roosevelt dime. In 2016, the US Mint struck 125,000 mercury dimes to commemorate the coin’s hundredth anniversary. The coins were bought by collectors within a few minutes after release.
1939 S Dime Value
With 10,540,000 dimes minted in San Francisco, the facility produced fewer dimes in 1939 than either the Denver or Philadelphia Mints. Even at a lower mintage, the 1939 S dimes are not considered rare and the lower-grade prices are on par with the other mintages.
The regular strike 1939 S dimes are quite easily available even in higher grades and valuations for uncirculated specimens start from around $800. Again, the coins with full bands are rare and will be worth a lot more.
The most expensive 1939 dime minted at San Francisco Mint was graded as MS68 and fetched $2,160 at a 2019 auction. A dime with a full band, which was also graded as MS68, sold for $10,350 in 2000.
1939 Proof Dime Value
When the US Mint produces proof dimes, they are not intended to be released into circulation but produced with collectors in mind. In 1939, 9,321 proof dimes were produced by the Philadelphia mint. Because proof coins have not been in circulation, they are often found in better condition than circulation coins.
Proof coins differ from regular coins because they have a brighter appearance. On proof coins, the designs are well-struck and they have strong impressions. Because there were so few proof coins struck in 1939, they are considered rare, and especially the full cameo contrast coins are sought after by collectors.
Most proof dimes from 1939 are valued in the range of $120 and $2,000. However, the most expensive proof coin struck at Philadelphia Mint in 1939 was sold for $21,600 in 2021. It was graded at PR68.
1939 Dime Grading
Grading a 1939 dime involves evaluating its strike, wear, damage, and overall appearance. Professional graders will then give the coin a grade on a scale from one to seventy. The lowest grade is Poor (PO1) and coins that are in poor condition are not worth more than their face value.
The system, known as the Sheldon scale, moves from poor to good, very good, fine, very fine, extremely fine, about uncirculated, and uncirculated grades. The most sought after, and therefore the most valuable coins, are graded MS, with the letters referring to mint state. An MS70-graded coin is seen to be in perfect condition.
If you have a 1939 dime that you would like to get professionally graded, you can find out more about sending it to a grading company in this video.
Rare 1939 Dime Error Lists
1939 Dime Off-Center Error
An off-center strike occurs when the coin is not properly aligned in the press, resulting in a design that is partially or entirely off-center. The more off-center the design is, the rarer and more valuable the coin may be. However, if the date is not clearly visible, it will reduce the coin’s value.
1939 Dime Doubled Die Error
A doubled die error occurs when the coin’s design is stamped onto the coin twice, resulting in a doubled image. The doubling is most noticeable in the lettering or numbers, and the more pronounced the doubling, the more valuable the coin will be.
Repunched Mint Mark Error
These errors, known as RPM errors occur when the mint mark is punched onto the coin more than once, resulting in a visible doubling of the mark. This type of error is relatively common, but the more visible the doubling, the more valuable the coin.
1939 Dime CUD Error
A cud error occurs when a piece of the die breaks off and leaves a raised, blob-like area on the coin’s surface. This can happen in various areas of the coin’s design, and the more prominent the cud, the more it can increase the coin’s value.
1939 Dime Clipped Planchet Error
A clipped planchet error occurs when part of the coin’s edge is missing due to the minting process. This error can happen in various degrees of severity. The exact value of coins with clipped planchet errors will depend on the severity of the error.
If you have a 1939 dime with one of the errors described above, it can add to the value of the coin. However, not all errors will necessarily add much to the value. Usually, the valuation will depend on the severity of the error as well as the overall condition of the coin.
1939 Dime Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a 1939 dime valuable?
A 1939 dime’s value is determined by its rarity, condition, errors, historical significance, and certification. Collectors and investors should take all of these factors into consideration when assessing the value of a 1939 dime.
Where is the mint mark on a 1939 Liberty dime?
The 1939 Liberty dime, also known as the Mercury dime, does not have a mint mark if it was minted in Philadelphia. However, if the dime was minted in Denver, it will have a “D” mint mark on the reverse side of the coin, to the left of the fasces, and below the olive branch. If it was minted in San Francisco, it will have an “S” mint mark in the same location.
What are the 5 most valuable dimes?
The value of a dime varies based on a range of factors, including its rarity, condition, and historical significance. Here are 5 of the most valuable dimes, according to current market values:
1894-S Barber dime – valued at $2 million+
1916-D Mercury dime – valued at $300,000+
1874-CC Liberty Seated dime – valued at $200,000+
1895-O Barber dime – valued at $180,000+
1871-CC Liberty Seated dime – valued at $150,000+