When I began collecting coins minted during the turn of the 20th century, one of the first coins I bought was a Barber dime.
Also called Liberty Head dimes, Barber dimes were minted from 1892 to 1916.
Barber dimes represent a truly large series of coins with many common dates, some tough dates, and a few rarities. In fact, one of the dates in the series is among the costliest of rarities in all of numismatics — the 1894-S dime. I will talk a bit about that coin later.
Here’s more about scarce Barber dimes, common Barber dimes, and how to start your own collection of Barber dimes.
Scarce Barber Dimes
Many pieces in the Barber dime series are scarce, especially in the higher grades.
In fact, it is fair to say that most all of the dates could be considered scarce — or at least relatively scarce — in grades of Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated-50 and higher.
The following date-and-mintmark combinations are among the scarcest pieces in the Barber dime series. Approximate prices listed below are for coins that are not cleaned or damaged ranging from Good-4 to Mint State-63.
- 1892-S; 990,710 minted: $70 to $850+
- 1892 3/2; mintage unknown: $150 to $1,750+
- 1893-O; 1,760,000 minted: $35 to $575+
- 1894-O; 720,000 minted: $72 to $2,700+
- 1895; 690,880 minted: $90 to $1,150+
- 1895-O; 440,000 minted: $400 to $9,000+
- 1895-S; 1,120,000 minted: $46 to $1,100+
- 1896-O; 610,000 minted: $82 to $2,700+
- 1896-S; 575,056 minted: $88 to $1,450+
- 1897-O; 666,000 minted: $70 to $1,700+
- 1901-S; 593,022 minted: $85 to $1,800+
- 1903-S; 613,300 minted: $84 to $1,700+
- 1904-S; 800,000 minted: $47 to $1,600+
- 1905-O Micro-O; mintage unknown: $50 to $5,000+
- 1913-S; 510,000 minted: $25 to $780+
Common Barber Dimes
Generally speaking, if your Barber dime is not listed above (and if you don’t have the virtually elusive 1894-S), then you likely have a common Barber dime.
You may be wondering why any Barber dime is common when they seem so hard to find. Why, if you were born any time in the last 5 decades or so, you probably never had one enter your pocket from circulation.
However, most Barber dimes are generally considered common because tens of millions were made, and many still exist in:
Barber dimes can easily be found at most coin dealers’ stores, and most cost less than a few dollars to buy in lower grades.
If you have a Barber dime that has not been listed above, and it is well worn, your dime is likely worth less than $10 to $25. For very well-worn pieces, most dates in the series are worth less than $5 to $7.
1894-S Barber Dime
So, back to that 1894-S dime. There are apparently still some uncertainties as to exactly how or why it was that only 24 1894-S Barber dimes were minted.
However, it is believed by numismatists that the then-superintendent of the San Francisco Mint, John Daggett, struck a very limited number of dimes to be presented to some bankers. Daggett gave each of 7 bankers 3 of the 1894-S dimes. He also gave 3 to his daughter, Hallie.
Interestingly, Hallie Daggett herself accounted that she spent one of her 3 1894-S dimes on a dish of ice cream when she was a young child! The 1894-S dime has long been considered a classic rarity. In fact, some specimens of the dime have brought in over $1 million apiece at auction in recent years.
Collecting Barber Dimes
Are you interested in collecting the whole series of Barber dimes? It is a fun series to assemble. It presents many exciting and challenging pieces to collect.
Clearly, most people are excused from having to include the 1894-S Barber dime in their collection. But for the adventurous and very rich collectors, adding the 1894-S to a complete Barber dime collection would represent a large jewel in the crown.
Completing the Barber dime series (even without the 1894-S) can take many years and thousands of dollars. However, it is a reasonable goal that most collectors can undertake if given enough time and money.
Don’t let the big price tags of some of the dates in the series trip you up. Save your coin collecting money in increments. In time, you will have enough money accumulated to buy the more expensive pieces in the series.
To find out more about values and prices, check out the latest edition of “A Guide Book of United States Coins“.