The U.S. Mint would like to believe their current activities in the 21st Century are a renaissance of coin design, but coin collectors couldn’t disagree more.
Among coin collectors, the true renaissance of U.S. coinage occurred from 1907 to 1921. From the common cent to twenty dollar gold pieces, every coin underwent sweeping design changes that produced some of the most artistic and beautiful coins ever released by the mint. Ask any collector what they believe are the most beautiful coins ever minted and you’ll get a vote for at least one denomination from this period.
One such example is the Winged Liberty Head dime coin or Mercury dime as it was affectionately nicknamed by the public. Designed by Adolph Weinman, with a composition of 90% silver, the Winged Liberty Head dime coin was produced from 1916 through 1945.
On the obverse is a depiction of Lady Liberty wearing a Phrygian cap with wings. The wings are intended to symbolize freedom of thought, but due to similarities to that of the Roman God Mercury, the public inappropriately nicknamed the coin “Mercury Dime” even though Mercury was a man and not a woman as depicted on the dime. Additionally, the obverse design shows the word LIBERTY, the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST shown to the left of the neck, as well as the designers initial AW to the right of the neck.
The reverse design, a fasces juxtaposed with an olive branch, was intended to symbolize America's readiness for war, combined with its desire for peace. Additionally, the reverse design shows the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ONE DIME near the rim, the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM to the right of the fasces and as well as a mint mark located below the bottom of the olive branch (Philadelphia issues carried no mint mark).
General Market Notes
Luckily for type set collectors, there is only one coin type and no major varieties for the entire series. Any example in the entire dimes series is suitable for a type set collection, but the most affordable coins (even in high grades) were those produced during the 1940’s.