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Mercury Dimes (1916-1945)

Mercury Dimes

Designer: Adolph A. Weinman. Weight: 2.50 grams. Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper. Approx diameter: 17.9 mm. Reeded edge. Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco.

Although this coin is commonly called the Mercury Dime, the main device is in fact a representation of Liberty. The wings crowning her cap are intended to symbolize liberty of thought. The designer’s monogram AW is to the right of the neck.

The Mercury dime or more properly the Winged Liberty Head dime was designed by Adolph A. Weinman. It depicts Liberty wearing a winged cap that resembles the Roman god Mercury. Her youthful profile faces left and is surrounded by LIBERTY. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST in very small letters is in two lines below her chin and between her neck and the coin’s edge.

The date is set off to the right below the truncation, and the designer’s monogram initials are in the right field opposite the motto. The principal devices of the reverse are the fasces and the olive branch, symbols of authority and peace. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is around the outer periphery of the coin. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is in smaller letters in the lower right field. The mintmark is to the left between the olive branch stem and the E in ONE.

Weinman was born on December 11, 1870 in Karlsruhe, Germany. He moved to the United States when he was ten years old. He attended night classes at Cooper Union when he was fifteen, and later he was a student at the Art Students’ League of New York, where he studied with sculptor, designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Philip Martiny, another sculptor.

In 1904 he opened his own studio. He considered himself an architectural sculptor, as was Saint-Gaudens; however, Weinman is now best known for his coin and medal designs. He is particularly remembered for his Walking Liberty half dollar, from which the American Silver Eagle bullion coin is derived; the “Mercury” dime, and several medals for the armed services of the United States.

His sculptures can be found in several state capitol buildings, the Manhattan Municipal Building, Madison Square Presbyterian Church, Penn Station and others. He created a dramatic sculpture on the Elks National Veterans Memorial in Chicago as well as sculptures for the Post Office Department Building, the Jefferson Memorial and the U.S. Supreme Court. He died on August 8, 1952 in Port Chester, New York.




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