One Dime, Draped Bust, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

One Dime, Draped Bust, Coin Type from United States (issued 1796 - 1807)
Coin TypeOne Dime, Draped Bust

The dime, in United States usage, is a ten-cent coin (10¢), one tenth of a United States dollar, labelled formally as "one dime". The word dime comes from the Old French disme (now dîme), meaning "tithe" or "tenth part", from the Latin decima [pars]. In the past prices have occasionally been quoted on signage and other materials in terms of dimes, abbreviated as "d" or a lowercase "d" with a slash through it (đ) as with the cent and mill signs. After the half dime became five cents in 1873, the dime is now the only United States coin in general circulation that is not denominated in terms of dollars or cents.

The Draped Bust design was the first type of dime issued into circulation. It features on the obverse the draped bust of Miss Liberty, giving the design its name. The design is the same as on other denominations of the same period and, given that the value and denomination are not written on the coin, they have to be inferred by size only. The obverse was paired with two different reverses, a standing eagle (in 1796 and 1797 only) and the "heraldic eagle" from the Coat of Arms of the United State (1798 to 1807). The composition is 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper.

In 1809, the design of the denomination changed to the Capped Bust obverse and a new eagle reverse. In later years, there were also changes in size and composition (the dime is now smaller and made of copper-nickel), but these coins have never been demonetised and are still legal tender. This, of course, is of academic interest only, as their numismatic value is enormously higher than their face value.

United States / One Dime, Draped Bust - obverse photo

The obverse of the coin shows a portrait of Liberty with flowing hair, facing right.

Around above, the inscription LIBERTY. Around the rim, fifteen stars (eight to the left and seven to the right) representing the 15 states which were then members of the Union. Some time during 1797 this was changed to show 13 stars instead.

Below the portrait, the date of issue: [year].

The rim is denticled (toothed).

Obverse Inscription ******* LIBERTY ****** [year]
United States / One Dime, Draped Bust - reverse photo

There were two different reverses with the Draped Bust obverse.

Small Eagle (1796 and 1797); called "small" as compared to the later design paired with the Capped Bust Liberty.
The main device on the reverse is an eagle, standing, with open wings, looking to right. Around the eagle, a laurel wreath. Around, the name of the country: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The rim is denticled (toothed). Value and denomination are not displayed on the coin.

Heraldic Eagle (1798 - 1807): at centre, the main part of the obverse (or front) of the Great Seal of the United States, which displays the full achievement of the national coat of arms. The design has the Union Shield at centre, legally blazoned as "paleways of 13 pieces, argent and gules; a chief, azure" (thirteen vertical stripes, white and red, with a blue horizontal bar on top). The colours are represented by heraldic hatching (thin lines indicating the colour - horizontal stripes for blue, vertical for red, no stripes for white). The supporter of the shield is a bald eagle with its wings outstretched (or "displayed", in heraldic terms). From the eagle's perspective, it holds a bundle of seven arrows in its right talon, and an olive branch in its left talon. In its beak, the eagle clutches a scroll with the motto E pluribus unum ("Out of Many, One"). Over its head there appears a "glory" with of clouds and 13 mullets (stars).

The recurring number 13 refers to the 13 original states. The arrows and olive branch together symbolise that the United States has "a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war". The eagle has its head turned towards the arrows - unlike later versions where it looks towards the olive branch, to symbolise a preference for peace.

Around, the name of the country: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The rim is denticled (toothed). Value and denomination are not displayed on the coin.

EdgeMilledEdge InscriptionNone
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One Dime, Draped Bust: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Sub-type ofOne Dime
Face Value10 (x Cent)
Material0.892 Silver
DesignerRobert Scot
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size19.000 mm
Mass2.700 g