Obverse Dies: 2 Known
1881 Philadelphia dimes are more difficult to locate than the 1879 and 1880 dates in all grades. In Mint State, I've found the 1881 date to be very challenging to find. PCGS and NGC population reports confirm this observation.
Plate Coin: Fortin 101a, Pure White Gem
1881 was another year in which Dime production dropped to an abysmally small amount -- a mere 24,000 coins -- all of which were produced at the Philadelphia Mint (and no other). Though the mintage of the 1881 Dime is larger than that of the 1879, the 1881 is much more difficult to locate in most grades. Mint State 1881 Dimes are rather scarce, and usually appear in MS63 and MS64. Gems are particularly rare, and none are known above MS67+.
According to Dime researcher, Gerry Fortin, all of the 1881 Dimes were produced by a single die pair -- which had previously been used to strike Proofs. Two additional die pairs were used to strike only Proof 1881 Dimes.
Heritage 2/2014:3450, $3,290 - Valley Collection - Legend Rare Coin Auctions 9/2016:239, $2,350
Heritage 8/2007:544, $4,312.50 - Joseph C. Thomas Collection - Heritage 4/2009:147, $2,530