For many numismatists, the Barber dime ranks among the most interesting coins ever minted. Yes- it’s a series of coins that’s full of controversy, and it receives hate and love in equal measure. Barber dimes were produced between 1892 and 1916. Some people also refer to them as Liberty Head dimes. While some of these coins are extremely scarce, others are easy to find at collections and pawnshops.
The Barber dime value ranges between $4 and $7 if the coin’s grading is good. A rare one could fetch over a million. For instance, in 2016, in Tampa, a coin collector parted with $1,997,500 to own an 1894-S Barber dime, which is in the pool of the world’s most elusive coins.
The Liberty Head has its place in history as an exciting coin series that offers passionate collectors a wide range of mint marks and dates. It’s unquestionably worth learning about. Below, find critical information about this dime, including its history, features, and value.
What is the Barber Dime?
The Barber dime is a silver ten-cent coin that the United States Mint produced from 1892 to 1916. Designed by Charles E. Barber, it remained relatively unchanged throughout its production run. The obverse features a picture of Liberty wearing a Phrygian cap, also known as a “liberty cap,” with the word “Liberty” on her hair ribbon. The reverse features the value “10 Cents” inside a wreath, along with the year of minting (1892–1916).
Brief Summary of the Barber Dime
- Series of Coins: Liberty Dime
- Portrait: Miss Liberty
- Main Reverse Feature: ONE DIME
- Denominational Value: $0.1
- Pawnshop Value: Dependent on Barber dime’s condition and rarity
- Metal Composition: Silver (90%) and Copper (10%)
- Diameter: 17.91 mm (0.705 in)
- Mass/Weight: 2.5g
- Mint: San Francisco, Denver, Philadelphia, and New Orleans
- Designer: Charles E. Barber.
- Mintage: 504,515,051 coins
The Barber dime was created in 1892 and minted until 1916. The dime was designed by Charles E. Barber, which is why it is referred to as the “Barber” dime. Charles Edward Barber was born in London, England on July 23rd, 1840, and moved with his family to Massachusetts at the age of two. He grew up in Cambridge where he attended school before finishing his education with an apprenticeship at the Boston coin dealer, Munroe Sons. In 1860, Barber became an assistant engraver at the Philadelphia Mint under James B. Longacre.
After 21 years in that position, he was promoted to chief engraver after Longacre passed away in 1878. His promotion came with a pay increase from $3,000 to $5,000 per year. Barber served as the chief engraver until he died on January 17th, 1917. Barber’s designs are seen all across America on many different denominations of coins dating from 1879 through 1916.
Some of these coin denominations include the dime, quarter, half-dollar, and silver dollar. Barber most likely created the designs using a machine, as it is believed that he didn’t have much knowledge or training in sculpting.
Reason for Minting the Barber Dime
The Barber dime was minted after the rising demand for the end of the Seated Liberty design. It was used on most silver coins circulating since the 1830s. Edward O. Leech, the Mint Director, arranged a competition to find a new coin design.
However, engravers declined to participate in it because they’d only win a cash prize. So, Leech asked Charles E. Barber to design the dime, half and quarter dollar. This marked the start of the Barber series which lasted over two decades.
Which US Mints Produced the Barber Dime?
More than 346 million Barber dimes with no mint mark were minted at the Philadelphia mint. Almost 55 million more Liberty dimes with a “D” mintmark were manufactured at the Denver mint. The San Francisco mint also produced the Barber dimes, minting over 52 million pieces that bore the “S” mintmark. Manufacturing about 48 million Liberty dimes, the New Orleans minted the lowest amount of these coins with the mintmark “O”.
Features of the Barber Dime
If you’re hell-bent on finding out everything about the Barber dime, start by knowing its features. What does this coin look like, what are its dimensions and which metals were used to manufacture it? Find these details below.
Obverse (Head) Features
A Liberty head dominates the obverse side of the Barber dime. In this image, Miss Liberty faces right. She’s in a Phrygian cap and a laurel wreath. If you take a closer look at the space above her forehead, you’ll notice a small engraving in a band reading “LIBERTY”.
The inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encompasses Miss Liberty’s image. Below it is the date when the Barber dime was manufactured.
Reverse (Tail) Features
Right at the middle of the Barber dime’s reverse side is the inscription “ONE DIME”. A large wreath encircles this engraving. If the dime has a mint mark, it’s situated below the wreath. Contrary to other coins such as the Lincoln penny, there was no space for “IN GOD WE TRUST ” on the Barber dime, so it’s missing.
These dimes contain 90% silver and 10% copper and weigh 2.5g, with a diameter of 17.91 mm (0.705 in).
Barber Dime Value
Barber dime values vary, depending on elements such as mint marks, mint years and condition. Typically, a Liberty Dime minted in 1897 at the Philadelphia mint can be worth about $4 if its condition is good. One minted at the same location in 1893, and with the same grading, is priced at $140. If its condition is uncirculated, its price doubles to $300.
An 1895 Barber Dime (O) is one of the most valuable Liberty Dimes. In good condition, its price tag reads about $375. If its condition improves to extremely fine, it’s worth increases to $2,400. An uncirculated 1895 Barber Dime (O) is priced at $1,000 more.
Notably, the value of most Barber dimes has been increasing lately. Numismatists predict that these coins’ price will be much higher in the future. This is because some of them are not easy to come by, plus their high silver content makes them physically appealing.
Comparison Table Showing the Value of the Barber Dime
|Date/Coin Variety||Condition/Grade of Barber Dime|
|1892 Barber Dime||$7||$18||$30||$80|
|1892 Barber Dime (S)||$65||$190||$280||$330|
|1892 Barber Dime (O)||$12||$35||$75||$95|
|1894 Barber Dime||$30||$120||$180||$220|
|1894 Barber Dime (O)||$70||$200||$425||$600|
|1895 Barber Dime||$80||$325||$550||$625|
|1985 Barber Dime (O)||$375||$850||$2,400||$3,400|
|1895 Barber Dime (S)||$42||$135||$240||$310|
|1899 Barber Dime (S)||$8.50||$32||$45||$110|
|1900 Barber Dime||$4||$8||$25||$75|
|1902 Barber Dime (S)||$9||$55||$140||$200|
|1911 Barber Dime||$4||$6||$25||$75|
|1911 Barber Dime (S)||$4||$10||$40||$100|
|1914 Barber Dime (D)||$4||$6||$20||$75|
|1914 Barber Dime (S)||$4||$10||$40||$80|
|1915 Barber Dime||$4||$6||$25||$75|
|1916 Barber Dime (S)||$4||$6||$25||$75|
Denominational Value of the Barber Dime
The barber dime has a face value of 10 cents or $0.1. The coin’s melt value, however, is higher than its denomination at $1.68. This value is dynamic due to fluctuations in the silver spot price.
How much is the Barber Dime worth at the pawn shop?
The worth of a barber dime at a pawnshop could be anything within the range of $2.88 to over a thousand dollars. When you take your coin to the pawnbroker, they will use a lens to scrutinize it. Things such as the visibility of the imagery, smoothing or presence of scratches will determine the offer you get.
Factors that influence the Barber Dime Value
Appraising a Barber dime is a process. Numismatists and pawnbrokers have to analyze every aspect of this coin before they determine its real value. Check out the elements that come into play when assessing the worth of a Liberty dime.
The grade of a Barber dime determines its condition. The better the latter, the higher the coin’s value. Here are the grades that a Liberty dime can have:
- Uncirculated: A Barber dime in this condition is worth more than others. All the aspects of this coin are clear, and it doesn’t have any signs of wear. The texture is also consistent.
- Extremely fine: This is the second-best grading a Barber dime can get. Though this dime may have suffered a little wear, it still looks sharp. The imaging and lettering is noticeable, even from a distance.
- Fine: If a Barber dime is in fine condition, it has some smoothing due to wear. Some parts of it may be flat, but others are still defined though. This coin is worth a little more than that with a good grading.
- Good: A Barber dime in good condition features massive damage. The edges of this coin are undefined. The lettering and imaging are fading away. A Liberty dime with this grading is not worth as much as one in Fine, Extremely Fine, or Uncirculated condition.
If a Barber dime is rare, it’s priced higher than a common Liberty Dime. Only 24 1894-S coins were manufactured. Therefore, this dime is on the list of the most valuable cents in the world, together with two others – the 1913 Liberty Head nickel and the 1804 dollar. The 1895-O is also scarce, and worth more than many other Barber dimes available today.
Error Barber dimes were misstruck at the mint. They boast rarity, which makes them more valuable than regular-strike Liberty dimes. For instance, there’s an 1893 Barber dime error, where this coin comes with a blockage tail and a deeply concave head. A few years back, PCGS gave such a dime an uncirculated grade, and it fetched $11,750. A normal 1893 Barber dime with the same grading goes for about $300, which is way less than that.
Where was the Barber dime minted?
The Barber dime was minted at four mints in the United States – Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Denver.
Which is the most valuable Barber dime today?
The most valuable Barber dime nowadays is the 1894-S Barber dime because it’s the rarest. In 2016, an 1894-S Barber dime made headlines when a coin collector paid $1,997,500 for it.
How can you identify a Barber dime?
The easiest way to recognize a Barber dime is to assess its features. It comes with an image of Miss Liberty, in a Phrygian cap, facing right. She wears a laurel wreath, and just above her head, you can spot a tiny engraving that reads “LIBERTY”. The inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surrounds her head, and the date when the dime was made is right below.
The tail of the Barber dime has the inscription “ONE DIME” at the center. It’s enclosed by a wreath.
What’s the value of an 1898 Barber dime?
An 1898 Barber dime with no mintmark and in good condition is priced at about $4. If it has an “O” mint mark and is in uncirculated condition, its value skyrockets to $280.
Should I sell my Barber dime at the pawnshop?
Whether you sell your Barber dime to a pawnbroker is a personal decision. But remember that the pawnshop will put various factors into consideration before they make you an offer. For instance, is your coin new or old? Does it have any features that make it special?
Before you pawn off your Barber dime, do some research to find out its real value. If it’s a high-grade coin, consider selling it online or at an auction. You may fetch a lot more for it there than at the pawnshop.
Winding Up: Is the Barber dime value worth it?
If you have a Barber dime, hold on to it because it could be worth more than you think. Though its face value is only $0.1, its real value could be hundreds or thousands of dollars. This dime’s worth is influenced by its condition and rarity. If you want to find out more about this coin, reach out to our coin experts.