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The 1942/1 Mercury Dime Overdate

The “Renaissance of United States Coinage” began in 1907 with the creation of the $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle and the $10 Gold Eagle. Soon, all other denominations of U.S. Gold coins followed.

But the rest of America’s coinage was not far behind. The Lincoln Cent was created in 1909 by Victor David Brenner. The Buffalo Nickel was designed by James Earle Fraser in 1913. Herman Atkins MacNeil designed the Standing Liberty Quarter in 1916. That left only the Dime and Half Dollar to be redesigned.

Adolph A. Weinman designed the beautiful Walking Liberty Half Dollar and also what would become the “Mercury Dime.” The coin that he designed was actually called the Winged Liberty Head Dime.

Weinman’s design of a young Liberty, wearing a soft Phrygian cap with wings, was intended to mean “freedom of thought.” Instead, the coin reminded the public of the Roman God Mercury who wore a winged hat and winged sandals.

The Mercury Dime went into production in 1916 and was produced until 1945 when they were replaced with the Roosevelt Dime, honoring the recently deceased President Franklin Roosevelt. The Mercury Dime was very symbolic on both the obverse and reverse. While the obverse was intended to convey “freedom of thought,” the reverse, with its Roman fasces, symbolized unity and strength. The olive branch surrounding the fasces was supposed to symbolize peace, as the coin was struck while Europe was embroiled in the “War to End All Wars.”

This series of coins was well-received by the American public. The Mercury Dime took its place with the other redesigned coins to make America’s coinage beautiful and worthy of acceptance around the world.

In 1942, the United States joined with our European allies to battle the Axis countries.  Our Dime, intended to symbolize peace, was providing commerce to a nation at war. The United States Mint went about its business as usual. But in 1942, two strange occurrences happened at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.  At both minting facilities, obverse dies for the new coins were impressed with a 1941-dated hub and then a 1942-dated hub, which is a positive raised image of a coin’s design impressed into a steel shaft. This “overdated” hub now carried both the “1941” and “1942” dates. The first three digits aligned perfectly but the last digits differed so both the “1” and the “2” were impressed into the hub and struck onto the coin blanks.

The coin world, such as it existed during World War II in 1942, embraced these error coins. They were very easy to see and both coins were in circulation so the collectors of the day looked to find them among their pocket change.

This error coin is highly desirable today and no Mercury Dime collection is complete without both of these overdate coins.

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