Which Seated Dimes Make the Best Type Coins? Good question!
So, you’re looking to get a Seated Dime, eh? Great idea! This is a really fun series to collect, and mostly inexpensive in low grades. You can fill a book with them for the price of a decent proof Morgan if you buy your Seated Dimes raw – except for a few truly rare dates.
Disclaimer: if you’re collecting to invest, this article is not necessarily for you. This article is about bang for your buck – the finest coins for the least dough.
If doing the whole set isn’t your style and you just want to get yourself a great looking coin for your type set, I’ve got you covered.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll stay away from Proofs. Not that you should.
So what’s your budget? You can get a raw Seated Dime for under $20 all in – sometimes even certified. When you go over Very Fine grades, into Extremely Fine territory, however, you’re going to have to come up with some scratch. Most coins from this long set get into low three figures (hundreds of dollars) in EF.
You should be able to do a whole date set raw in VF or under for under $10,000. If you want all the mints though, including those early ’70s CCs, you’re looking at $50,000. (Which you need to get certified even in very low grades – these are scarce coins, hard to find inexpensively as hole fillers.)
It might surprise you to know that you can pick up a piece among the finest-known for as little as four figures. The finest-knowns are typically mid-fives. And there are even a couple of Mint State 69 Seated Liberty Dimes out there. But one of those is, of course, bocout bucks.
Most people want to spend $100 or $200 for a type coin, and that could net you a common date choice AU or even a decent MS.
But first, which Seated do you want? There are many types:
No Stars; Stars, No Drapery; Stars; Stars/Arrows; Legend; or Legend/Arrows?
For looks, I’m a huge fan of the No Stars (image at the top of the page). It’s such a diminutive coin, the stars kinda clutter things. Well, that’s not true – they actually look nice. Until you see the unfettered fields of a No Stars. Unfortunately, these No Stars are also the most expensive.
If you don’t care whether you get a Stars or Legend, the 1860+ Legend coins will be cheaper. If you need an Arrows-at-Date for your set, I personally prefer the 1873 to any of the 1850s coins. The layout of the 1870s obverse dies is more pleasing to my eye.
Note about grading:
Buy raw coins carefully. Some chummahonies try to call VF pieces EF. And they often get away with it by claiming “weak strike” or some such bull. Don’t fall for it. You can train your eye to buy raw pieces no problem. But when you get into truly AU and MS pieces – especially those better dates – you definitely want to buy certified.
Keep an eye out for counterfeits. Seated Dimes are not typically the choice of counterfeiters, but added mint marks go back to the time the coins were still relatively new. Collectors started to pay attention to mint mark about the time the Seated series ended. And contemporary counterfeits made out of debased silver are common. (In fact, they’re kinda fun to collect.)
So, let’s look.
No Stars Type Seated Dime
The 1837 No Stars is the most affordable through all grades. Unfortunately, if you need a gem for your type coin, a problem-free piece will probably set you back over ten grand.
Somewhat strangely, in AU you can pick up an 1837-O for perhaps less than an 1837-P. So if you’re looking for an AU piece in the $1,000 range, you might want to look for a New Orleans 1837-O Liberty Seated Dime.
Stars, No Drapery Seated Dime
Stars, No-Drapery-at-Elbow Seated Dimes kinda wander in price through the grades. If you’re looking for a low-grade piece, stick to a ’38 Small Stars or a ’39. If you don’t want to think about it, get an 1839 as they’re typically the least expensive through all grades.
In EF and higher, you’ll want to switch to a ’38 Large Stars. If you’re looking for a phenomenal piece among the finest known because you like the way this coin looks, find an 1839 No Drapery Seated Dime in Mint State 67. They don’t come up but every few years, but there are more out there than the other No Draperies.
Stars Seated Dime
For a low-end Stars type piece, you’ll generally do yourself pretty well looking for an 1843 Seated Dime. For low end certified pieces, you should be able to find either a decent looking 1842 or 1843-O piece for a Jackson or thereabouts.
If you’re looking for an EF, keep an eye out for ’43s natch, but also look for 1849s and 1859s. Who wouldn’t want a Seated Dime from 1849!? That’s a great date.
Keep in mind that there can be a pretty significant jump – particularly for 1843s – to get to AU. 1859 is still the best date for choice AU, along with 1843 and 1849.
Things change up a bit when you get to choice Uncs. You can get yourself an early Stars coin for under $1,000 – maybe even as low as $500 even. But you’ll want to look for different dates. That 1859 is still a great choice, but if you want a ’40s coin you’ll want 1841 or 1845 to help your dollars get a nicer looking coin.
The least expensive gems are 1842, the 1856 Small Date, 1859 and 1853 No Arrows. And the least expensive of the finest of the type (in that ‘7 or MS68 range) are the 1853 No Arrows Seated Liberty Dime and 1859 Seated Dime.
Stars, Arrows-at-Date Seated Dime
Through EF, stick with 1853s. There are a bajillion of them. (Last I counted. And that is an official count.) In EF, you can even find a lot of 1855s.
Once you jump to AU, it doesn’t matter the year so long as you stay away from O coins.
In choice Unc or gem, these days you want a ’53 or ’54. And if you want one of the finest 1850s Arrows coins, you’ll want an 1854 Arrows Seated Dime to get the nicest coin for the least out-of-pocket.
Legend Seated Dime
These are probably the coins you’re accustomed to seeing the most. No Stars, replaced with “United States of America” in all caps, the legend, on the obverse. Also in 1860, besides removing the stars, they also swapped the reverse’s laurels for an agricultural wreath.
One of the least expensive coins in all grade levels is the 1877-CC Seated Liberty Dime. Which is kinda fun.
In low grades, also keep an eye out for 1876-S, ’76-CC, and of course 1891 Seated Dimes.
Through EF, look for 1862 (especially if you want a Civil War type set, right?!), 1873 Closed 3, ’76 and 1891. And if you’re looking for a pick, keep an eye out for 1873 Open 3s marked as or priced as Closed 3s. It’s not an easy pick as most everyone knows to look, but it can be done.
Once you’re in EF, you actually have a lot of interesting choices. These include: 1860, 1862, 1875-CC, 1876, and 1876-S Seated Liberty Dime.
In choice Unc, look for 1860, ’62, ’75-S, ’76, and 1876-CCs to get the most out of your money.
If you have to have among the finest known, look for 1862 and 1876. I mean, who doesn’t want an 1876 in Mint State 67??? I do, I do! Oh wait.
Legend, Arrows-at-Date Seated Dime
And that brings us to wrap it up with Legend/Arrows coins. It’s pretty simple. In all grades, you want an 1873 or 1874. And right now, if you want one of the nicest coins money can buy for this type, you want an 1874 Arrows Seated Dime.
Other things to watch out for: Toning
Seated Dimes often come with color. Be very careful buying colorful coins online. I mean, that’s always good advice. But especially with Seated Dimes. The auction companies are really good at making ugly coins look nice. Don’t fall for it.
Strike As you know, strike is always an issue with Seateds of every kind. If you don’t care what Lady Liberty’s face looks like, you might be able to score yourself a deal. But if you want a decently struck piece from fresh dies with a fully formed smiley face and hair, well, pay attention.
So there you go! Now you know how to make your dollar go further when buying a Seated Dime Type Coin. Seated Dimes are great. Decide which one you like the best, then buy carefully. You, too, can have yourself a beautiful Seated Liberty Dime in your 7070!