The dime is the United States’ 10-cent coin. The person on the obverse (heads) of the dime is Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd president. He’s been on the dime since 1946.
The design on the reverse (tails) shows a torch with an olive branch to the left of it and an oak branch to the right. These three objects are symbols for ideas. The torch stands for liberty. The olive branch stands for peace. And the oak branch means strength and independence.
The U.S. Mint made the first dime in 1796. They were originally made of silver. The Mint added reeded edges to them so that people wouldn’t file off pieces of the coin to sell the silver.
The designs of the early dimes showed a woman who symbolized liberty. Sometimes just her head was shown. But for many years in the 1800s her full body appeared, seated on a rock. She was shown with wings on her head from 1916 to 1945, to symbolize freedom of thought. Many people mistook her for the Roman messenger god, Mercury and called the coin the “Mercury” dime.
In 1946, the Mint placed President Roosevelt on the dime soon as he died. He was a good choice for the dime because he supported an organization called the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes raised money to find a cure for polio. Roosevelt got polio when he was 39 years old.
Learn about other circulating coins.