2016 Mercury Dime release A century in the making!
The 2016 Mercury Dime was released by the U.S. mint on April 21st last week and it became unavailable within an hour. The U.S. mint site says We are currently out of this item, but more may be available later. There is a background to all thisMercury Dime frenzy!Its beautiful Winged Liberty design. The 2016 Mercury Dime is an ode to the 1916 Dime designed by Adolph A. Weinman.
1916 Mercury Dime The design
In 1915, the Director of the U.S. Mint Robert W. Woolley met with the Commission of Fine arts to decide on the new design for the Half dollar, Quarter and Dime. He was under the mistaken impression that the designs need to be updated every 25 years (More on that here). The Commission was dissatisfied with the designs submitted by the Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber and suggested the mint use sculptors Adolph Weinman,Hermon MacNeil and Albin Polasek instead. Of the submitted sketches from the three sculptors, Adolph Weinmans designs for the Half Dollar and Dime were selected. Hermon MacNeil's was selected for the Quarter.
For the Dimes obverse, Weinman designed a Liberty with a wreath of curls and a pileus or a Liberty cap. The Liberty head had wings in the pileus which Weinman meant to depict the Liberty of thought. The reverse had what is called the Fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of power, a bound bundle of wood that was held by attendants who accompanied Roman magistrates. It symbolized war and justice. But Weinmans Fasces had an olive branch around it suggesting that the United States of America was always prepared for war and justice, yet sought peaceful solutions.
Weinman used Elsie Stevens, the wife of his tenant Wallace Stevens as the model for the Liberty head, but kept it anonymous till the end. This was revealed much later by Robert W. Woolley but never directly by name. Holly Stevens, daughter of Elsie Stevens, mentioned in her editions of her father's letters that Elsie was indeed the model for the Winged Liberty head or Mercury Dime coin by Weinman.
When the coin was released in 1916, the press and the collectors while praising the Dime, were confused with the obverse and the reverse designs. In a letter to the editor in The Numismatist, the Liberty Head with the winged cap was thought to represent Mercury, a messenger to the Roman gods, and the misnomer Mercury Dime came into being. The reverse design of the Fasces triggered the names battle ax or the golf dime. While these names never took off, the name Mercury Dime stuck for good!
2016 Mercury Dime Centennial Gold Coin
The U.S. Mint decided in November 2015, that the 1916 Silver coins Half Dollar, Quarter and the Dime would be commemorated in the Gold versions in 2016.
The 2016 Mercury Dimeobverse features the portrait of Liberty facing left, wearing a winged pileus, with the inscriptions LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, 2016 and Weinman's initials, AW. The reverse shows the Roman fasces and an olive branch, symbolizing Americas military readiness and desire for peace. The inscriptions are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM, AU 24K, 1/10 oz., and ONE DIME.
In keeping with the symbolism of the 1916 Dime, the Centennial coin contains 1/10th oz of Gold. This .9999 fine 24-karat gold coin with business strike finish was struck (Only 125,000!)at the West Point mint.
So we know that the 2016 Mercury Dime became unavailable within an hour of its release last week. What is left to find out is ifthe U.S. mint will be releasing some more coins or will it announce a 'sold out' !