Why Is The Dime Smaller Than The Nickel and Penny But Worth More?

Children regularly inquire to adults, “Why is the dime smaller if it’s worth more than a penny or a nickel?” As adults, we feel we should know the answer better nurture their inquisitive nature.  In some instances, the answer is far less complicated than believed.

Historically, the United States, along with a multitude of other countries, used coins as their common currency for ages. During this time, all coins were struck using pure metals; gold, silver, copper, and nickel. As it became more and more necessary for various denominations, coins with smaller intrinsic value were introduced into circulation. It also became increasingly important for the coins be fractioned precisely to their corresponding worth when compared to that of a silver dollar. As such, the dime became literally one tenth the size, as well as worth, of a silver dollar piece.

As the years went on, it became apparent that the public and Mint workers were taking slivers and shavings from the silver laden coinage. It is estimated that millions of dollars worth of silver was “stolen” from The Mint in this manner, resulting in the call for all coinage to be made from less valuable metals such as nickel.

Today, the dime is made from a copper-nickel alloy, consisting of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. 

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Since 1979, Bellevue Rare Coins has been a trusted, family-owned business serving the Greater Seattle Area with locations in Bellevue, Lynnwood, Issaquah, and West Seattle. Specializing in gold, silver, diamond, and jewelry purchasing, in addition to dealing in rare coins. We now offer a vast selection of fine, vintage and custom designed jewelry. Visit anyone of our three friendly locations for the best deals selling or buying.  

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