Half Dimes a
By Tom LaMarre
half dimes are a good buy. You can
find Seated Liberty
half dimes in Fine-12,
dating back to the 1850s, for only $10. Many
dates from the 1840s are valued at around $20 in
An early reference to
half dimes appeared in the
April 6, 1842, issue of the Tioga Eagle,
published in Wellsboro, Pa. The newspaper
reported, "The United States Branch Mint at New
half dimes during the month of
With a mintage of just 350,000, the 1842-O half
dime is probably a steal at its Coin Prices'
valuation of $38 for a G-4 example.
half dimes were the subject of a
story in the May 11, 1846, issue of The
Republican Compiler. It said, "Half a peck of
pewter dimes and
half dimes were found by some
boys near the depot at N. Haven last week."
half dimes were struck only at the
Philadelphia Mint. Only 27,000 were produced.
Survivors are expensive.
An 1853 law reduced the weight of the half dime
and most other silver denominations. Arrows were
added at the date to indicate the change.
The April 28, 1853, issue of the Sandusky, Ohio,
Daily Commercial Register reported, "The new
silver quarter dollar pieces and dimes and
half dimes, in course of manufacture at the Mint,
will be put in circulation during the present
In 1858 there was a run on an Indiana bank. When
$1,000 of its notes were presented, they were
There were enough of the coins to go around that
year. More than 5 million
half dimes were struck
in 1858, at Philadelphia and New Orleans.
Gold and silver coins, including
disappeared from circulation during the Civil
War. By 1862,
half dimes were said to be a rare
in New York City as they were in Richmond, Va.
After the war,
half dimes circulated in some
unusual places. The Jan. 25, 1868, issue of the
St. Joseph (Mich.) Herald said, "American dimes
half dimes are now admitted in Porto Rico as
a legal tender for public dues."
half dimes ended in 1873, but they
weren't forgotten. In 1879 the San Francisco
Call said, "The scarcity of silver five-cent
pieces has been marked for some time." Their
successors, nickel five-cent pieces, were struck
only at the Philadelphia Mint.
Counterfeiters continued to make
half dimes long
after the Mint stopped striking them.
In 1878, Secret Service agents arrested Melvin
Tyce in New York for counterfeiting
half dimes could also be a problem at
The Aug. 10, 1881, issue of the Decatur Daily
Review reported, "The number of defaced coins,
half dimes worn smooth and having holes
bored in them which are in circulation in New
Orleans, causes the Democrat of that city to
make an investigation." The New Orleans Mint
struck its last
half dimes in 1860.
You might think thieves would not bother with
In 1879, though, two burglars were nabbed with a
stash of hot
half dimes. "Both Woods and Oliver
are identified beyond all doubt as two of the
masked men who entered cashier Sawyer's house
and compelled him to open the [safe]," the
Decatur Daily Republican reported. "Besides
this, the watch taken from the cashier was found
in Jack Wood's possession, and several packages
of dimes and
Today, few people except coin collectors know
the United States ever had a silver five-cent