This coin is in rough shape. But, at nearly 200 years of age, I can only hope to look as good! I would grade this as a G4, with the reverse possibly meriting a VG8 (that could just be wishful thinking). The obverse seems to have old residue, possibly from a piece of tape.
The obverse shows a woman facing to the left. She wears a cap with the legend “LIBERTY” on the band, and has a rather sharp profile formed by a practically straight line down her forehead to the tip of her nose. Her hair is long, with curls that gather at her neck both towards her chin and behind her. The top of a toga is visible. Seven 6-sided stars are to her left, with six more stars to her right. The date is at 6:00.
On the reverse, an eagle with it’s wings spread clutches olive branches in it’s right talon (on the left side) and arrows in it’s left talon (on the right side). The eagle’s chest is covered with a heraldic shield, and scrollwork over it’s head carries the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. From 8:00 to 4:00, the legend reads “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. The denomination “10C” is at 6:00.
Mint Mark: n/a (Philadelphia)
Catalog code: US KM-48
Mintage: 510,000 (PCGS estimates the coin as having an R5 of 1,000 or less surviving in all grades)
Country of origin: United States of America
Composition: 89.20% silver
Size: 18.5mm diameter
Weight: 2.7 grams (for an ASW of 0.0774 oz)
Other details: The Redbook lists 3 major die varieties: 1830 Large C, 1830 Small C, and 1830 30 Over 29 (overdate). There are also 8 varieties identified as JR-1 through JR-8 (I’m still working on learning what sets those apart still to attribute this particular variety).
For an interesting history of the dime in US coinage, check out NGC’s post on early dimes (other proposed names included a disme, deci, or tenth).
Most interesting to me – the engraver who created the Bust pattern (John Reich) came to the US as an indentured servant and was freed when his contract was paid off by an unknown benefactor at the US mint. He later became “2nd engraver,” junior to Chief Engraver Robert Scot. It is possible that Scot (who is not remembered for being a particularly talented engraver and who was going blind in his elder years) paid off the contract in order to keep his prestigious title while letting Reich do the actual work, but Reich’s benefactor is unknown. Others have speculated that Mint Director Robert M. Patterson may have paid off his indenture.
What is known is that Reich was prolific & redesigned practically every coin in circulation at the time. From 1807 to 1817, he labored at very modest income & reworked the half cent, cent, dime, quarter, half dollar, $2.5 dollar, and $5 gold pieces. John Reich resigned from the mint in 1817 after 10 years of work without any promotion or raise in pay. His salary ($600 per year) sure puts the contemporary value of these coins in perspective!
At the start of the 19th century, the dime was still unfamiliar to most Americans. Even though a Congressional Act in 1792 had called for a decimal system based on the dollar, they were some of the last coins introduced by the mint. Dimes were also made in very low quantities because merchants who paid the mint to convert silver into coinage often preferred larger denomination coins which were easier to securely store and transport by ship or stagecoach.
Spanish silver and coins from Mexico circulated widely in the US at the time. The Spanish real (1/8 of a Spanish pillar dollar) was treated as a 12.5 cent piece, and paired well in making change for US quarters (aka “2 bits”). Another coin that circulated at the time was a Spanish coin of lower silver alloy struck in the 1700’s. Though these were called two reales, the lower inherent value meant that these “pistareen” coins were treated as having a face value of 20 cents. The dime first gained widespread use making change for pistareens.
Estimated Value: $20-25 with silver at ~$16/oz (silver price doesn’t really affect these due to their high numismatic value)