US Coins

Common 1975 dimes bringing ridiculous prices online

A genuine Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime sold for $456,000 in 2019, but it is one of only two known. Common “no Mint mark” coins of face value are being offered in online auctions for exorbitant prices.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Opportunistic sellers are finding willing buyers in misinformed collectors who think they are getting a known rarity when they are actually buying a common coin.

A number of listings are appearing on online selling platforms touting “1975 Roosevelt Dime No Mint Mark” with starting bids well into three figures or higher. In some cases, the title even includes “Rare” or “Very Rare,” and that’s where it becomes really shady.

According to the sixth edition of the “Red Book” (A Guide Book of United States Coins, Mega Red), 585,673,900 Roosevelt dimes were made in 1975 without a Mint mark, purposely, because they were all made at the Mint’s Philadelphia and San Francisco facilities for general circulation.

The confusion that leads novice collectors into believing they are on course to acquire a rarity comes with the lack of understanding that the coin they seek is actually the Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime, and not some regular, circulated 10-cent coin that was made to be spent.

The Mint struck 2.8 million Proof 1975-S Roosevelt dimes to include in the Proof sets of that year. They were all supposed to have an S Mint mark. Only two of those dimes have been discovered minus the Mint mark, and one of those coins sold in a Stack’s Bowers Galleries Rarities Night auction in Rosemont, Illinois, on Aug. 18, 2011. That coin, graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Proof 68, sold for $349,600. In 2019, the coin again came up at the Heritage Auctions Long Beach sale, where it realized $456,000.

The existence of one of the coins was discovered in 1977 when a set was sent to Coin World’s Collectors Clearinghouse in July of that year. The owner then submitted the sets to the American Numismatic Association Certification Service, which authenticated the dimes as each being a Proof strike without the Mint mark. The second coin was also owned by the same individual, and both sets were sold in separate transactions to Illinois coin dealer Fred J. Vollmer, who acquired them in 1978 and 1979.

The first set, which contained the coin submitted to Coin World, was sold to an Ohio collector. The second set included the Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime that was sold at the 2011 Stack’s Bowers auction.

Since just two examples of the Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime have been authenticated to date, most believe that Mint inspectors discovered the mistake that led to the absence of a Mint mark on the obverse die, and they stopped most of the sets with an error dime from being released.

None of the coins currently being offered in the online sales has been graded or authenticated. Many are pictured in a standard cardboard holder or shown raw. Few offer any type of description beyond the title, and many are obviously circulated coins based on their images.

It is a classic case of “Buyer Beware.” It is incumbent upon purchasers to know what they are getting. A coin advertised as “1975 Roosevelt dime no mint mark” is, in reality, truthfully represented, because that’s exactly what the coin will be. Added words like “rare” or “very rare” are misleading to the point of being false advertising, because a one-in-585-million coin is exactly the opposite. A high starting bid may add to the false appeal, because a common current coin of face value should not bring a three-figure return.

The issue is far from new, as it is the source of one of the most frequently asked questions at Coin World. As recently as the July 20, 2020, issue of Coin World, Senior Editor Paul Gilkes fielded a reader’s inquiry about his 1975 Roosevelt dime, which the reader believed to be special. Readers often mistake high quality circulation strikes or coins broken out of Uncirculated sets to be Proof coins. For an online auction buyer, buying the coin before learning about it means gross overpayment for pocket change.

Connect with Coin World:  
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Access our Dealer Directory  
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

Community Comments