1921-D Mercury Dime

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The 1921-D Mercury dime is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month.

This is a special United States collectible coin. Designed by Adolph A. Weinman and belonging to the celebrated body of the artistic renaissance coinage of the early 20th century, the Mercury dime came along in 1916 and was produced until 1945. The Mercury dime offers collectors a tremendous balance of affordability and challenge, with many common dates but several tough semi-keys, keys, and varieties mixed in for good balance. Among the scarce issues is the 1921-D, which saw a mintage of 1,080,000 and is now a highly sought-after piece.

Mercury Dime Value

The 1921-D is the scarcer of the two Mercury dime issues from that year, with the Philadelphia Mint striking 1,230,000. One reason dime output was so small in 1921 was a mild recession. However, another contributing factor was the sheer volume of 1921 Morgan dollars, which saw tremendous mintages of nearly 87 million.

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The 1921-D Mercury dime sees incredible demand in all grades thanks to a large number of series enthusiasts who collect this coin by date and mintmark and need to have a specimen to complete their sets. A challenging date even in heavily circulated grades, one of the finest specimens known was graded MS66FB by Professional Coin Grading Service and sold for an astounding $18,600 at a Heritage Auctions sale in April 2021.

Coin Grading

Grade refers to a coin’s level of preservation: how many nicks or scratches or other imperfections it has. Coins are graded on a scale of one to 70, with higher numbers signifying higher grades. One represents a coin that is so well worn that it's barely identifiable as to its type.

70 represents a perfect coin: a coin that when viewed under a five-power magnifying glass has no visible imperfections. 60 through 70 represent the Mint State (MS) grades. A coin graded MS-60 can have so many nicks and scratches and flaws that it might look as if Godzilla used it as a teething ring. MS-65 is the industry standard for "Gem." MS-66 through MS-69 are the near-flawless super-grade or wonder coin assignations. With each grade level above MS-66, the value might double or triple.

Grade names are used in addition to numerical grades. In ascending order, these word grades are About or Almost Good; Good; Very Good; Fine; Very Fine; Extra or Extremely Fine; About or Almost Uncirculated; and Mint State.

A Proof is not a special Mint State coin. Proof refers to a method of manufacture, not a grade. Although Proof coins are struck using specially polished dies and specially selected planchets (metal discs) to assure a chromium-like brilliance, they can circulate or be spent. Proofs are also graded on the one through 70 scale. A Proof coin grading less than Proof-60 is referred to as an "impaired Proof."

*Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com.

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