On Thursday, January 7, Heritage sold a 1894-S dime for just short of $2 million. How can a 122 year old dime be worth so much?
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Rarity, pure and simple. The 1894-S dime is really, really rare.
Barber dimes, the type of dime minted from 1892 to 1916, are not hard to find as a rule; most collectors and even many non-collectors have one or more sitting around somewhere. Over 504 million Barber dimes were minted overall.
Exactly 24 of those Barber dimes are dated 1894-S.
Typical common date Barber dimes might be worth only a couple of bucks, not much more than the silver they contain. But if you have any dime dated 1894, you have a pretty good coin. A little more than 2 million dimes were minted that year overall – roughly 1.3 million in Philadelphia and another 700,000 or so in New Orleans. Plus the aforementioned 24 coins minted in San Francisco. Well-worn examples of the 1894 Philadelphia (no mintmark) might sell for around $20 in Good condition, while similar coins minted in New Orleans (O mintmark) might cost you about twice that. It’s the San Francisco coin (S mintmark) that is the rarity.
Of the 24 dimes minted in San Francisco in 1894, nine have been traced. Of these nine, six are in grades of Proof-60 or higher, one is described as an “impaired proof”, and the other two are heavily worn.
What happened to the other fifteen coins? Heritage wants to know! We will pay a $10,000 reward to be the first to examine any previously unreported, genuine examples.
These coins could be anywhere, from a longstanding collection to a dealer’s junk box. They could be in any grade – remember, while most of the known examples have no wear, two of them have seen heavy circulation and thus heavy wear.
But most importantly, they could be in your collection. Check your Barber dimes. If you have a 1894-S, we want to hear from you!
Check out Heritage’s FREE coin price guide for quick answers on what your item could be worth.
By Stewart Huckaby