I've been collecting Mercury dimes
pretty exclusively for several years now!
I'm 50 now, collected wheat pennies and other coins people gave me when I was a kid, annual mint products: commemorative silver and proof sets, etc. Then started buying modern commemorative gold around 2004, modern commemorative silver after that, first coin purchases since the mid 1980s. Then became interested in the classic series, buying some well worn Mercury dimes
and Walking Liberty half dollars
from pawn shops and the like, and partially filled albums of barber and Standing Liberty quarters
from a few local auctions.
Eventually, I landed on Mercury dimes
as a series to explore further; the design and other aspects of this important series in American numismatics really resonated with me.
Then, after reading many articles about numismatics, and collecting strategies, I decided to focus my efforts, narrowing down to a sub-niche: early date branch mint Mercury dimes
- Denver and Frisco Mercury dimes
from the teens and twenties. These issues are more rare due to mintage numbers, but also because coin collecting as a hobby didn't really take off until the thirties, when more mint state coins were saved. By then most dimes minted from even just a few years prior were already worn down quickly from circulation.
This Coin Week article really helped send me on this path as well:https://coinweek.com/us-coins/assem...es-low-cost/
"The cool thing about Mercury dimes
is that original EF to AU coins for mintmarked dates from the teens and twenties are exceptionally challenging. These are underpriced. Most of the ones that have been certified have been artificially brightened, not original. You can find original EF to AU Mercury dimes
, but you must search for them."
The other thing that happened around the same time, or perhaps later--once I had a little more money available to dedicate to building a collection of this sort, and gained a greater appreciate for numismatics in general--luster started to matter a lot more to me!
Originally, I had more or less targeted XF grade coins, but the luster kept drawing me in. Where possible, I tried to stretch my budget to consider more AU level specimens, looking for well struck PQ specimens, with original surfaces and natural toning, the more luster the better.
I've really enjoyed exploring this niche area of the Mercury dime
series, there are some very tough dates both for Denver and San Francisco in high AU grade such as 1917-D; 1919-D & S; 1925-D & S; 1923-S; 1924-S, 1927-S, 1928-S (large S) -- with original surfaces and natural toning, and luster. I'm trying to become as knowledgeable as possible on what to look for and where to find choice specimens.
I think what dealers will tell you is that there just isn't a sustained market for lower grade pieces, especially common dates. So my compromise was to target fewer higher grade examples from a narrower and more challenging sub-set (teens and twenties Denver and Frisco), rather than the entire series in lower grade.