Adam Starkey

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Mercury Dimes

Properly known as the “Winged Liberty” dime in the Mint’s official description, this popular coin designed by Adolph A. Weinman features a stunning example of a youthful Lady Liberty on the obverse wearing a winged Phrygian cap to symbolize freedom of thought. However, this was publicly confused almost immediately after its release in October of 1916 with a likeness of the Roman God Mercury, and thus this coin’s enduring colloquial name was born. Weinman never disclosed the name of the model for the obverse, but it is widely believed to have been Elsie Stevens, the wife of Weinman’s attorney friend, Wallace Stevens. The reverse features the fasces carried by Roman magisterial lictors and symbolizes power and justice, as well as strength in numbers, and is accompanied by an olive branch of peace. The Mercury dime spanned an era that witnessed two World Wars, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the entirety of Prohibition. It continues to be one of the most beloved coins in American history, more than 70 years after its last mintage in 1945.

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