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Why Is The 1949-S Roosevelt Dime So Valuable?

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Roosevelt Dimes were first struck in 1946, months after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, pictured on the obverse, passed away while in office during his fourth term at the age of 63. Himself afflicted with a disease diagnosed as polio, Roosevelt was a champion of eradication the illness and launched the organization that became the March of Dimes. Thus many found it fitting to honor him on the 10-cent coin after his death.

Roosevelt Dime, 1949-S 10C, FB, PCGS MS68FB. Click image to enlarge.

Millions upon millions of Roosevelt Dimes were pumped out year after year, and anybody who wanted an example of the dime could effectively be spared one. Few Roosevelt Dimes could be considered rare, even scarce in but the highest of grades. Yet there are exceptions. One of them is the 1949-S Roosevelt Dime.

Long considered the de-facto key for the series, the 1949-S Roosevelt Dime isn’t a rarity in the absolute sense, but with an output of only 13,510,000 it’s the second-lowest mintage among circulating issues. The only other Roosevelt Dime with a lower mintage was the 1955-P, which saw just 12,450,181 struck. Why so few of these dimes were produced in 1949 at the San Francisco Mint comes down to a matter of economics.

Despite the general impression by many that post-war America in the late 1940s and early 1950s was prosperous, a pronounced recession gripped the nation in late 1948 and into 1949. This cut into the need to produce copious amounts of coinage as had been par for the course just a few years earlier during the height of World War II.

The 1949-S Roosevelt Dime trades for premiums in all grades, including in worn grades. Even in XF40, a circulated grade that barely registers bids at melt for many other 90% silver dates in the series, the 1949-S Roosevelt Dime realizes about twice the value of its circulated peers in moderately to lightly worn grades.

Prices climb much higher in higher uncirculated grades, a result of relatively few of these coins being saved in massive roll quantities as was the case with many coins of the late 1940s through early 1960s. In a grade of MS60 to MS63, the 1949-S Roosevelt Dime takes $15 to $20 – multiples higher than other lower-end Mint State Roosevelt Dimes of the period. And in MS65, prices soar to more than $40; this is little surprise given that PCGS estimates only 80,000 or so specimens exist at the MS65 threshold or higher – bear in mind that’s a tiny number for a decidedly modern coin such as this one.

With the Full Bands grade designation, the 1949-S easily becomes the rarest, most challenging coin in the entire series. Just 50,000 are estimated across all grades and a mere 10,000 in the coveted grades of MS65 or higher. The darling of the PCGS Set Registry Roosevelt Dime collector, this coin commands upward of $100 in MS65FB and significantly higher in grades above that. The all-time record price was achieved by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in August 2018, when an MS67FB sold for $3,720.

Roosevelt Dimes (1946-to Date)

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