Draped Bust Dimes 1796 – 1807
The first dimes struck by the United States Mint were Draped Bust Dimes. There are two varieties – the small eagle reverse, which was minted in 1796 and 1797, and the Heraldic Eagle reverse, which was minted in 1798 through 1807. Designed by Robert Scot, the small eagle design was generally disliked.
The American eagle on the reverse was considered scrawny and not representative of the United States’ strong nation. The obverse featured Miss Liberty with her long curly hair tied with ribbons, as she faced right. At the top of the coin was the motto “LIBERTY” with 8 stars to the left of the motto and 7 stars to the right, with the date below. The reverse featured the eagle perched above a wreath, tied with a bow. The design encircled by “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”
(Robert Scot’s Small Eagle Reverse Dime of 1796 and 1797.)
In 1798, Robert Scot began working on the redesign of the reverse. He scrapped the current eagle and created a more regal bird, with a shield on his breast, arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. Above the eagle were 13 stars, with clouds above them.
(The Draped Bust Dime with Heraldic Eagle reverse of 1798 to 1807.)
In 1796, the Philadelphia Mint struck 22,135 dimes, all with the small eagle reverse and 15 stars on the obverse, representing a star for each state in the Union. In 1797, there were 25,261 coins struck, split between those with 16 stars and 13 stars on the obverse. The coins were expected to be minted with 15 stars, but as soon as Tennessee became a state, the U.S. Mint added another star. U.S. Mint officials realized that if they continued to add stars for each state on our coinage, it would interfere with the intended design, so it was decided in 1798 to return to the original 13-star concept.
In 1798, the mint struck 27,550 coins of which there are four varieties, beginning with the 8 over 7 with 16 stars on the reverse, 8 over 7 with 13 stars on the reverse, a large 8 and a small 8. No dimes were struck in 1799 due to a shortage in Silver blanks. In 1800, another 21,760 coins were minted, and in 1801, the mintage reached 34,640 coins. In 1802, a mere 10,975 coins were produced, but in 1803 the mintage went back up to the mid 30,000 coins.
1804: 8,265 mintage. Two varieties were struck, one featuring 13 stars and the other with 14 stars.
1805: 120,780 mintage. Four varieties were struck, the first featuring four berries on the olive branch, while another featured five berries.
1806: No coins were struck.
1807: 165,000 mintage.