1942 Mercury Dime: Famous 1942/1 Error Brings Huge Prices

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Mercury Dime Overview

The Mercury Dime, with its flowing and beautiful design, is a popular choice for today’s collectors. Although known officially as the Winged Liberty Head Dime, many collectors commonly refer to it as the “Mercury Dime.” This is because some people believe that the portrait of Liberty is actually the Roman God, Mercury.

The Mercury Dime was introduced in 1916 after a call by Mint Director Robert Woolley, who wanted a major update of then current coins. The Mercury Dime saw a 29-year production run. The Mercury Dime replaced the Barber Dime which had been in production from 1892 till 1916. Sculptor Adolph Weinman won the contest in 1916 with his design for the new dime.

On the obverse, Weinman’s main design is a bust of Lady Liberty wearing a cap with wings, facing left. The motto “LIBERTY” is centered above the bust of Lady Liberty. “IN GOD WE TRUST” can be found to the immediate left of the bust, while the date can be found directly below. Weinman’s initial, “W”, can be seen just to the right of Lady Liberty’s neck.

Weinman included a unique design element on the reverse of the Mercury Dime. A fasces or hatchet encircled by wooden rods, surrounded by an olive branch is the main design. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and the denomination “ONE CENT” can be found wrapped around the edges. The motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is to the right of the fasces.

Want to know more about the Mercury Dime as well as other collectible US Dimes? Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Collectible Dimes.

History of the 1942 Mercury Dime

Like other dates at the end of the series, the 1942 Mercury Dime experienced a high mintage. The US Mint at Philadelphia reports that 205,410,000 examples were struck. This was the second highest number struck in the entire Mercury Dime series.

Strike quality was also an issue throughout the entire series, with most coins having a weak strike and dull details. Coins that have Full Bands, which show the split between each band around the fasces, are valued much higher than those that do not.

Composed of 90% silver and 10% copper, the Mercury Dime is a high purity silver coin. With a diameter of 17.91mm, the Mercury Dime weighs in at 2.50 grams. Reeding is present along the edges.

1942 Mercury Dime

Image Source Flickr user NorthernLightsNumismatics

1942/1 Mercury Dime Error

A very interesting error has been detected for the 1942 Mercury Dime. Some examples feature an overdate error where the previous year’s date can be seen. This error is very rare and is in great demand from collectors.

The overdate error for this year can be easily seen, in most cases without the need of magnification. Normally, the “1” from “41” can be seen directly next to the “2” in “42”. Another indicator is the “4” in “42” shows some signs of what is similar to doubling.

This error is one of the biggest and well-known errors for the entire Mercury Dime series. A couple thousand examples have been found and graded, but most examples will be in a condition lower than Uncirculated. This makes the Uncirculated Overdate 1942 Mercury Dime very expensive.

If you feel that your 1942 Mercury Dime shows signs of being a 1942/1 overdate error, be sure to take it to a respected coin dealer for a second opinion. Alternatively, you could send your coin to a third-party grader to get an expert opinion, as well as get the coin preserved.

Value of the 1942 Mercury Dime

Prices for the 1942 Mercury Dime continue to be depressed due to a large number of coins that are still available for collectors. Even high-grade 1942 Mercury Dimes are valued much lower than other dates in the series.

Examples that are in Fine condition or lower are only worth their silver value, about $1.50. Even higher grades, such as Extra Fine, are only valued at $2.50.

Uncirculated examples see a larger increase in value, with MS-60 examples going for $8. Even in the relatively high grade of MS-65, most examples retail for $28.

If you own a 1942/1 Overdate Mercury Dime, even in low grades, they are very valuable. Even in Good 4 condition, the going price is a whopping $440! Values only continue to increase with higher conditions. Extra Fine coins sell for just under $1000. MS-60 examples are valued by PCGS at $2,500.

A recent auction for a 1942/1 Overdate Mercury Dime that also had the Full Bands designation was sold for an impressive $76,375!

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