Coin of the Month: Junk Roosevelts

Hey there, young coin collectors and investors! Are you interested in a house-wide treasure hunt?

If you’re ready to raid the change piles of your parents, grandparents and other willing adults, here’s a jewel you should be looking for: “junk” Roosevelt dimes. Learn why these dimes are special from other dimes that look just the same:

Undercover Value

These dimes look just like any other dime in your pocket today: they’ve got a portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the front and an oak branch, an olive branch and a torch on the back. To decide if the coin you hold is valuable, you’ll have to look at the date of issue. Junk Roosevelts are dimes that were produced from 1946-1964.

Junk Roosevelt dimes were regular, circulating dimes. What makes them valuable to coin collectors is not necessarily their rarity (though they are becoming harder to find) but their metal content. The coins are made of 90% silver and 10% copper. After 1965, the design of the dime remained the same, but the mint began making dimes with a mixture of non-precious metals.

Their high silver content makes them worth far more than their face value of ten cents! Unlike coins that are no longer produced and are valuable because of their historical significance (numismatic coins), junk Roosevelt dimes are considered bullion coins because their value lies in their high silver metal content.

If you look through the coins of your parents and older relatives, its possible that you’ll find some junk Roosevelts or other junk coins that you can add to your investment portfolio.

Coin Design

  • Obverse: The front of the dime features a portrait of President Franklin Roosevelt. His picture replaced the former Mercury dime in 1946, shortly after his death. His picture was in part to honor Roosevelt’s work in raising money in hopes of preventing child paralysis; he himself could not walk well because he had polio as a child. The front is inscribed with the word “Liberty” as well as the motto “In God We Trust.” The year of issue is also on the front; you’ll need to look for dimes minted between 1946-1965.
  • Reverse: The back of the dime features the three symbols: an olive branch, a torch and an oak branch. These symbols stand for peace, liberty and strength. The back is inscribed with “United States of America” and “One Dime” along with the motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” which means “Out of the Many, One.”

While junk Roosevelts are becoming harder to find, you’ll definitely find one from time to time if you keep your eyes open while searching through old piles of coins.

Keep reading about other interesting coin topics, like the Buffalo nickel and what makes a coin valuable?