Obverse Dies: 5 Known
Despite its low mintage, 1879 Philadelphia dimes are readily available in Mint State and scarce in circulated grades. Surprisingly, five obverse dies were used to strike a very limited amount of coinage. One of the five obverse dies was discovered in 2005.
Plate Coin: Fortin 105, Die Pair Variety Identified In 2005, A Mauve-Golden Specimen that Offers Satin Reflection and Bold Definition of Design Elements, Ex. Lemus Collection
In 1879, the production of Dimes took place only at the Philadelphia Mint, and the mintage was so small that one wonders why they even bothered. It was barely cost-effective to produce the dies and blanks, set up the press, and strike off 14,000 coins. However, for collectors, the creation of this rarity was a boon. Perhaps collectors were aware of the small mintage, as they put aside large quantities of Mint State examples. PCGS alone has certified over 200 Uncirculated 1879 Dimes. The high survival rate makes this an affordable rarity and, certainly, a good value.
Gerry Fortin has identified five different die pairs that were used to strike 1879 Dimes. This is an unusually large number for a date with such a low mintage, but it should be noted that four of the die pairs started out as Proofs, and three of those die pairs were used to strike Mint State examples at a later date.