This Week's Item: 1955-D Roosevelt Dime

This date should have been unusual. Many expected that with the 1955-D Roosevelt dime. Rarely do coins have as many elements affecting their availability and price as the 1955-D Roosevelt dime.

The Roosevelt dime wasn't a collector's staple in 1955. Many collectors couldn't afford dimes. You don't gather many dimes on a quarter a week, and our allowances were rarely more than a quarter. Even if one had the money to collect dimes, the Mercury dime was more likely to be in circulation and contained the renowned 1916-D and better dates like 1921 and 1921-D. There weren't many Roosevelt dimes like the 1949-S, but its mintage was over 13.5 million.

Since 1955 was the last year of San Francisco Mint coin production, there was a lot of anticipation. That was major news because most of the nation's youthful collectors filled Lincoln cent books and were admirers of San Francisco because it had the lowest cent mintage. San Francisco excelled that year. Just over 18.5 million 1955-S cents and dimes were minted, the lowest in over a decade.

The 1955 doubling die obverse cent was the year's biggest surprise. It dominates everything, and it still does. It overshadowed the 1955-D Roosevelt dime. All 1955 Roosevelt dimes had mintages under 20 million, which was low for a dime. With 12,828,381, the 1955 from Philadelphia was the lowest of the three, although the 1955-D came close at 13,959,000. Both were among the three lowest-mintage Roosevelt dimes, with the 1955-S fourth. This led some collectors to save these coins.

Saving was high thanks to the 1950-D Jefferson nickel and 1955 coins. Saving one coin and it doing well was excellent, but a roll quadrupled your gains.

The 1955-D Roosevelt dime would have been better, but all that saving left many in high grades. Like the 1950-D nickel, the saving was substantially more than usual, hence the coin moved little in price. Coin collecting interest dropped after 1965 when mintmarks were removed for a few years to discourage it. It turned off collectors and anyone interested in the 1955-D.

Fair enough, the 1955-D hoards were assembled to produce money, and in the late 1970s, they did, but not as planned. As silver rose to $50 an ounce, so did the 1955-D and other 90% silver dime. In 1955-D, profit and decision were made. Selling it with a low mintage seems to invite a price rise, as many foresaw in 1955. However, something was better than nothing, and several 1955-Ds were destroyed.

Today, the 1955-D costs $8.50 in MS-65. The third-lowest Roosevelt penny isn't expensive. Keeping rolls and bags of the 1955-D for when it suddenly becomes popular and rises in price is expensive. Since grading costs more than the coins' worth, the 1955-D is rarely sent to grading agencies, thus we don't know the real situation. Therefore, we can only surmise that supplies exist, explaining the $8.50 pricing.

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