1892–1916 - Silver Barber Dime
The Barber dime is named for its designer, Charles E. Barber, who was Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint from 1879 to 1917. The design was shared with the quarter and half-dollar of the same period. Extensive internal politics surrounded the awarding of the design job, which had initially been opened to the public. A four-member committee (which included Barber), appointed by then-Mint Director James Kimball, accorded only two of more than 300 submissions an honorable mention. Kimball's successor, Edward O. Leech, decided to dispense with the committees and public design competitions and simply instructed Barber to develop a new design. It has been speculated that this is what Barber had wanted all along.
The Barber dime, as with all previous dimes, featured an image of Liberty on the obverse. She is wearing a Phrygian cap, a laurel wreath with a ribbon, and a headband with the inscription "LIBERTY". This inscription is one of the key elements used in determining the condition of Barber dimes. Liberty's portrait was inspired by two sources—French coins and medals of the period, as well as ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. The obverse also contains the long-used 13 stars (for the 13 colonies) design element. The reverse contained a wreath and inscription almost identical to the one used on the final design of the Seated Liberty dime. Dimes were produced at all four of the mints that operated during the period. While circulated coins of the entire series are readily available to collectors there is one outstanding rarity, the 1894-S Barber Dime. Twenty-four were minted, with 9 currently known.
Barber Dimes were minted from 1892 to 1916. Barber Dimes were very popular, replacing the 55-year old Seated Liberty design. They largely went into circulation and stayed there, and most of the earlier dates are available mainly in low grades.
Barber Dime Design
The new design for the so-called Barber Dimes featured the bust of Liberty, facing right. She wears a Phrygian cap, with the word LIBERTY inscribed on the headband and an olive branch with thirteen leaves attached. The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appear in a circle around the edge, and the date is positioned under the truncation of the neck. The reverse of the coin featured an agricultural wreath, composed of corn, wheat and oak leaves, with the denomination ONE DIME inscribed within.
The Barber coinage consisted of a dime, quarter, and half dollar designed by United States Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. They were minted between 1892 and 1916, though no half dollars were struck in the final year of the series.
By the late 1880s, there were increasing calls for the replacement of the Seated Liberty design, used since the 1830s on most denominations of silver coins. In 1891, Mint Director Edward O. Leech, having been authorized by Congress to approve coin redesigns, ordered a competition, seeking a new look for the silver coins. As only the winner would receive a cash prize, invited artists refused to participate and no entry from the general public proved suitable. Leech instructed Barber to prepare new designs for the dime, quarter, and half dollar, and after the chief engraver made changes to secure Leech's endorsement, they were approved by President Benjamin Harrison in November 1891. Striking of the new coins began the following January.
Public and artistic opinion of the new pieces was, and remains, mixed. In 1915, Mint officials began plans to replace them, after the design's minimum term expired in 1916. The Mint issued Barber dimes and quarters in 1916 to meet commercial demand, but before the end of the year, the Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter, and Walking Liberty half dollar had begun production. Most dates in the Barber coin series are not difficult to obtain, but the 1894 dime struck at the San Francisco Mint (1894-S), with a mintage of 24, is a great rarity.
Country United States
Value 10 Cents = 1 Dime (0.1 USD)
Metal Silver (.900)
Weight 2.5 g
Diameter 17.9 mm
Engraver Charles Edward Barber
Orientation Coin alignment ↑↓