Gerald Tebben

Five Facts

Gerald Tebben

Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.

Coin World’s bloggers are not edited by Coin World’s editorial staff and blog posts reflect the views of the individual author.

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The 50th anniversary dime

The Roosevelt dime doesn’t get much respect. It’s a low-relief design (Chief Engraver Joseph Sinnock’s signature style) struck on clad planchets and has essentially no purchasing power.

Nonetheless, in 1946 it was first coined to honor a towering figure in American history and to raise money for the fight against polio, a debilitating scourge of childhood.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the nation through the twin perils of the Great Depression and World War II, was crippled by polio as a young man. In 1938 he founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, whose chief fundraising event was the annual door-to-door March of Dimes campaign.

Shortly after Roosevelt died April 12, 1945, Sinnock began work on the Roosevelt dime — a singularly appropriate denomination for a Roosevelt memorial. Production began Jan. 30, 1946, the president’s birthday, toward the end of that year’s March of Dimes campaign.

Polio was a scourge of childhood until it was vanquished by Jonas Salk’s vaccine in the 1950s. Every child of the time remembers lining up for shots in the 1950s and, later, sugar cubes dosed with oral vaccine in the early 1960s.

The March of Dimes still exists as an organization, now dedicated to fight against birth defects, but has long since abandoned door-to-door fundraising.

In 1996, the Mint struck 1.5 million Roosevelt dimes at the West Point Mint to mark the coin’s 50th anniversary. The coin was available only through that year’s Mint sets.

The 1996-W Roosevelt dime is an inexpensive numismatic delicacy, listing for just $12 in Mint State 63 in Coin World’s Coin Values. It is the first dime to bear a W Mint mark (the second is the 2016-W Winged Liberty Head Centennial gold dime) and is one of the few coins struck to commemorate an anniversary of the coin itself.

In 2015, the Mint struck a commemorative silver dollar marking the March of Dime’s 75th anniversary. The coin features busts of Roosevelt and Salk on the obverse and a baby on the reverse.


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