Roosevelt Dime Overview
A tribute to the longest-serving US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Roosevelt dime is often overlooked by numismatists.
When Roosevelt died in 1945, the Mint rushed to come up with a new commemorative design to replace the Mercury dime that had been in use for almost thirty years. After several revisions, the Roosevelt dime began production the following year.
It was John Sinnock who furnished the new design. The obverse displays a profile bust portrait of Franklin Roosevelt with the legend “LIBERTY” along the left rim.
In the lower right field is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” to the right is the year of mintage, and just blow the neck are Sinnock’s initials “JR,” which many conspiracy theorists claimed revealed the government’s allegiance to Joseph Stalin.
A burning torch, flanked by an olive branch on the left and an oak branch to the right, decorates the reverse, along with the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” The denomination “ONE DIME” is found at the base.
Much like the Washington quarter, the Roosevelt dime was minted in 90% silver up until 1964, when a spike in silver prices prompted a shift to a clad composition. The new composition is used in all subsequent issues and consists of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.
History of the 1952 Roosevelt Dime
1952 is a high mintage issue, with over 256 million dimes struck in total across three mints.
Denver minted the bulk of the issue–122,100,000–and examples struck in this location are signified by a “D” mint mark just to the left of the torch base on the reverse.
Philadelphia is next, with 99,040,093 dimes struck. No mint mark is present on 1952 Philadelphia issues, although “P” mint marks can be found on dimes minted after 1980.
San Francisco produced 44,419,500 dimes this year. This issue is signified by an “S” mint mark.
Strike quality tends to be high on San Francisco and Denver issues, whereas it is of variable quality on Philadelphia issues. San Francisco and Denver each have notable repunched mint mark varieties.
Since they were minted before 1965, 1952 Roosevelt dimes have a composition of 90% silver and 10% copper, a diameter of 17.9 millimeters, and a mass of 2.27 grams.
Full Torch Detail
The torch at the center of the reverse design has been identified as one of the most important design aspects for determining the quality of a Roosevelt dime.
Two criteria in particular are examined when evaluating the torch detail: the upper and lower bands, and the vertical bands.
Depending on the organization doing the grading, in order for a dime to receive the designation of Full Torch (FT) or Full Bands (FB), the upper and lower bands, the vertical band, or both must display complete and clear division lines.
Only specimens with a high-quality strike and minimal wear are able to achieve this, so a Full Torch dime will naturally be a desirable coin for collectors.
As shown in the following section, a Full Torch or Full Bands designation can greatly raise the value of your dime, so if you plan on selling a Roosevelt dime and you think it qualifies as Full Torch, it might be worth sending to a coin-grading service to be certified.
Valuing the 1952 Roosevelt Dime
Because these coins are still quite common, and because Roosevelt dimes are relatively low in demand from collectors, their value tends to be low, but very high-grade examples can still bring a fair price.
The minimum value of a 1952 Roosevelt dime is typically its melt value, or what the silver content is worth to a precious metals dealer. Based on the current spot price of silver, the estimated melt value of this coin is $1.10.
Numismatically, there is a bit of variance based on the mint mark, but it is not significant in most cases.
Good-4 through Very Fine-20 dimes are valued at $1.25. This is the expected value for most 1952 Roosevelt dimes. The value increases to $1.36 in Extremely Fine-40, $1.46 in About Uncirculated-50, $3.09 in Uncirculated (MS-60), and $10 in About Uncirculated (MS-65).
To show the difference that Full Torch status can make, we will look at an MS-66 Denver issue. The standard value for this coin is $38, but in Full Torch, the value jumps to $55, a $17 difference.