There are three common varieties of dimes that were in circulation in the United States minted with 90% silver that are typically found amongst junk silver.
Barber Silver Dimes
The Barber Dime was introduced in 1892 and was designed by the US Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber. Barber silver dimes follow a similar design pattern as the Barber half-dollar and Barber quarter designs.
The obverse face shows Lady Liberty wearing a crown made from an olive branch with a headband inscribed with the word “LIBERTY”.
The reverse displays a wreath made from corn, wheat, maple and oak leaves that surrounds the denomination “ONE DIME” in the center.
Mercury Silver Dimes
The Mercury Dime, or Winged Liberty Head Dime, got it’s name because of the depiction of Lady Liberty on the obverse of the coin. This coin, designed by Adolph Weinman, shows Lady Liberty wearing a winged phrygian cap. Around the time of Mercury Dime’s debut, many in the general public confused Lady Liberty with the Roman god Mercury.
Mercury dimes were common in pocket change until the 1960s. After the US Mint changed the alloys used to mint dimes in 1965, many Mercury Dimes were pulled from circulation by collectors.
Today, Mercury Dimes are sought after by both coin collectors, preppers and precious metals investors due to their silver content. Many of the Mercury Dimes that you can buy today are in generally good condition with most showing some signs of the detailed features being worn away from circulation and wear.
Roosevelt Silver Dimes
The Roosevelt Dime is the most familiar of all the dimes that you will typically find amongst junk silver. The Roosevelt Dime replaced the Mercury dime in 1946 shortly after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The design introduced in 1946 is still in production and circulation today with minimal changes.
Roosevelt Dimes minted before 1965 were minted with the same 90% silver alloy used in quarters, half dollars and dollar coins.
When you buy junk silver dimes, the majority of them will most likely consist of Roosevelt Dimes. Over 6 billion Roosevelt Dimes were minted between 1946 and 1964. The final mintage year of silver dimes, more than 1.3 billion dimes were struck at the Denver Mint, plus over 929 million dimes being struck at the Philadelphia Mint that same year.