As of 2022, dimes weigh 2.268 grams, or 0.080 ounces, and have a core of copper surrounded by a nickel coating. This differs from the original dimes that were made of 2.7 grams of silver, which was literally worth ten cents in the 18th century.
Coins have a long history, making collecting them an interesting hobby. People collect coins for a lot of reasons, such as for historic or artistic value or to invest in valuable coins for potential profits.
Other people are casual enthusiasts, collecting foreign coins from trips or coins found by chance, such as the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which was minted from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999. It commemorated the women’s suffrage leader, who was also the first actual woman to ever appear on a circulating U.S. coin, not counting Lady Liberty’s head.
Whatever your interest in coins, whether it’s purely as an investment or for their historical significance and unique designs, you might have wondered: what do they weigh? Or what exactly are they made of? And why the heck is the dime the smallest coin of all? Let’s take a closer look at those questions and more about dimes and other U.S. coins.
History of the American dime
Historically, the size and weight of coins made some kind of sense — they were tied to their intrinsic value. As in, a silver dime that weighed 2.7 grams was literally worth ten cents worth of silver, and so on.
But that evolved pretty rapidly, due to changes in the value of precious metals and other practical reasons, and coins became more like tokens of value rather than literal worth. Since then, coin size and weight changed, as well as the materials used to mint them.
From the 1700s to the 1800s
The original dimes were made of silver and weighed 2.70 grams (0.095 ounces). The silver dimes were created in 1796 following the Coinage Act of 1792, which established the U.S. dollar as the nation’s currency and created a mint for national coinage.
The design, known as Draped Bust Dimes from 1796 to 1837, showed Liberty on the obverse side (heads) and an eagle on the reverse side (tails). However, from 1809 through 1837, the Capped Bust Dime was minted and weighed a bit less at 2.41 grams (0.085 ounces).
Dimes from the 1800s to 1900s
In 1837, a wreath design replaced the eagle, and the Seated Liberty Dime (also known as the Liberty Seated Dime), was in circulation until 1891. Liberty, in various forms, stayed on the dime until 1946. (The Liberty Seated coinage, incidentally, which was cast the same year as the final Capped Bust Dimes, was a break from the traditional close-up portraiture.)
The weight also fluctuated a bit, partly due to rising silver prices, but eventually settled at a weight of 2.5 grams with a composition of about 90% silver and 10% copper, and maintained that weight until the Coinage Act of 1965.
20th- and 21st-century dimes
From 1916 to 1945, the U.S. began minting dimes known as “Mercury” dimes. The head’s side showed a profile of Liberty wearing a cap with wings to represent freedom of thought. The design got its name because it reminded people of the Roman god Mercury. A fasces — a bundle of rods tied around an axe — and an olive branch appeared on the tail’s side. The two symbols represented America’s military readiness and the desire for peace.
The current design of the U.S. ten-cent coin is the Roosevelt dime, minted in 1946 soon after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death following World War II. The head’s side shows Roosevelt’s profile, and the reverse displays a torch with an olive branch on the left and an oak branch on the right. The torch signifies Liberty, the olive branch, peace, and the oak branch represents strength and independence.
How much does a dime weigh in 2022?
Since 1965, all dimes minted in the U.S. weigh 2.268 grams (0.080 ounces). They’re made from a copper core and are wrapped in nickel which gives them that shiny, silver color. It has a diameter of 17.91 mm and a thickness of 1.35 mm. A U.S. dime also has reeded edges (ridges, basically), and each one has 118 reeds.
Coins each have unique inscriptions on them as well. Roosevelt dimes, for example, have the year, “Liberty” and “In God We Trust” on the obverse. The reverse says, “United States of America,” “One Dime,” and “E Pluribus Unum,” which is Latin for “out of many, one.” It’s also sometimes translated as “one from many,” and is considered a United States motto signifying the creation of a unified nation of people with different beliefs and backgrounds.
What does a half dollar weigh?
Because half-dollar and dollar coins are rarely used anymore, you might be surprised to learn that half-dollars are the largest and heaviest of all circulating coins, with a weight of 11.340 grams and a diameter of 30.61 mm (1.205 in.). They have a thickness of 2.15 mm, 150 reeds around the edge, and a metallic composition — or “clad sandwich” — of primarily copper and 8.33% nickel.
The “Kennedy” theme is the current design of the U.S. half-dollar coin. The United States Mint first issued this design in 1964, a year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The head’s side shows an image of Kennedy, based on a portrait prepared for his presidential medal, and the Presidential Seal appears on the reverse.
The Mint cast the first half dollar in 1794, and it was made of silver like the first dime. The designs on these silver coins, from 1794 all the way up until 1947, showed a woman symbolizing Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.
What does a dollar coin weigh?
The newest dollar coins in circulation during 2022, which you probably won’t find in your pocket change, weigh in at 8.1 grams with a diameter of 26.49 mm (1.043 in.) and a thickness of 2.0 mm. They have a manganese-brass finish giving them the (sort of) look of old-timey gold coins of the past.
The first dollar coin made with an outer layer of manganese brass came about when the U.S. Mint issued the Sacagawea Golden Dollar from 2000 to 2008. The obverse design features Sacagawea and the reverse depicts a soaring eagle. In 2009, the dollar transitioned to the Native American $1 Coin Program using the Sacagawea obverse paired with different reverse designs every year.
Four of the new “American Innovation” $1 coins with distinctive reverse designs are released each year starting from 2019 and continuing through 2032. They will come out in the order the states joined the U.S. After coins are issued for each state, other ones will be released for the District of Columbia and the five U. S. territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
How much do quarters, nickels, and pennies weigh?
A quarter weighs in at 5.67 grams, nickels weigh 5.0 grams, and a penny weighs 2.5 grams. A quarter has a diameter of 24.26 mm and a thickness of 1.75 mm; the nickel is 21.21 mm wide and 1.95 mm thick; and pennies are 19.05 mm in diameter with a thickness of 1.52 mm.
Of your pocket change, only the penny and nickel have plain edges, whereas the quarter, dime, and half dollar are all reeded. The quarter has 119 reeds, which is randomly only one reed more than the dime has.
What are coins made out of now?
The penny, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar coins are all clad coins these days. Clad means the coins have an inner core of metal surrounded by an outer layer of a different metal. The Mint makes most clad coins with an inner core of copper, except for the penny. The nickel, interestingly, is the only circulating coin that isn’t clad.
Plus, the nickel isn’t even totally made of nickel! It’s actually cupro-nickel, or copper-nickel (CuNi), which is a copper-nickel alloy that contains nickel plus strengthening elements, such as iron and manganese. The dime, quarter, and half dollar are also clad in cupro-nickel. The penny, which looks like copper, is actually copper-plated zinc and only 2.5% of its metallic content is actually made up of copper.
Why aren’t coins made from precious metal anymore?
Circulating coins used to be made out of valuable metals like silver and gold, in addition to copper. But as these metals got more and more expensive, the U.S. Mint started replacing them with cheaper and longer-lasting metals. The last coin circulated that included silver was the 1970 half dollar.
|Denomination||Cent||Nickel||Dime||Quarter Dollar||Half Dollar||Dollar|
|Composition||Copper plated zinc|
|Weight||2.500 g||5.000 g||2.268 g||5.670 g||11.340 g||8.1 g|
|Diameter||0.750 in.||0.835 in.||0.705 in.||0.955 in.||1.205 in.||1.043 in.|
|19.05 mm||21.21 mm||17.91 mm||24.26 mm||30.61 mm||26.49 mm|
|Thickness||1.52 mm||1.95 mm||1.35 mm||1.75 mm||2.15 mm||2.00 mm|
|No. of Reeds||N/A||N/A||118||119||150||N/A|
|Source: U.S. Mint|
Why is the dime smaller than a nickel or a penny?
Back in the day, the weight of the coin was meant to equal its value, so a dime was literally worth ten cents of silver. Turns out five cents worth of silver makes for a pretty tiny coin, which was known as a half-dime.
Eventually, for practical purposes, the metallic content of coins changed and the half-dime became a nickel because it was made out of… you guessed it — nickel.
Why are presidents’ faces depicted on coins?
The face of Lady Liberty appeared on circulating coins for more than 150 years. When considering options for the first coins, Congress debated over whether to feature George Washington and later presidents, but many thought that was too similar to Great Britain’s practice of featuring their monarchs. Instead, Congress chose to personify the concept of Liberty rather than a real person.
In 1909, Abraham Lincoln replaced Lady Liberty on the penny. A while after that, presidents began to appear in other denominations. First was the quarter in 1932, then the nickel in 1938, the dime in 1946, the half dollar in 1964, and finally the dollar coin in 1971. Liberty last appeared on a circulating coin in 1947 in the final year of the Walking Liberty half dollars.
What does it mean to “drop a dime” on someone?
To “drop a dime” basically means to rat out a criminal or someone believed to be a criminal. More specifically, it used to refer to dropping a dime into a pay phone when calling the police to inform on another person without revealing your own identity. These days it could be used to describe almost any form of betrayal. For example, “I’m grounded this weekend cause my sister dropped a dime on me to my parents for skipping school on Friday.”
Incidentally, it’s also found its way into some sports lingo. For instance, “dropping a dime” means making a sweet assist in basketball or executing a difficult pass in football.
- A 2022 dime weighs 2.268 grams with a diameter of 17.91 mm and a thickness of 1.35 mm.
- Dimes were originally 2.70 grams of silver, which was actually worth ten cents in the 1700s.
- Most coins minted in the 2000s are clad, meaning the coin has a metal core that differs from the metal coating the coin.
View Article Sources
- Collecting Basics — U.S. Mint
- Coin Specifications — U.S. Mint
- The History of U.S. Circulating Coins — U.S. Mint
- The 1943 and 1944 Cents — American Numismatic Association
- Do Luxury Watches Appreciate In Value? — SuperMoney
- The 25 Most Expensive Pens in the World — SuperMoney
- 1943 Steel Penny Value vs. World’s Most Expensive Coins — SuperMoney
- Silver Certificate Dollar Bill: What Is It Worth Today? — SuperMoney