Who is on the dime?

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, has been on the obverse of the dime since 1946.

Current design of the Roosevelt DimeSource

The dime is the United States 10-cent coin. The United States Mint made the first dime in 1796, and it was originally made out of silver.

The reverse of the dime nowadays shows a lit torch in between an olive branch on the left and an oak branch on the right.

The torch stands for liberty. The olive branch symbolizes peace, and the oak branch is there symbolizing strength and independence.

Franklin Roosevelt: History and Milestones

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR, served as the 32nd American President from 1933 to 1945. During his term in office, he faced a deep economic depression.

To fight off the crisis, Roosevelt passed several laws and executive orders, known as the New Deal, that managed to relieve struggling farmers and the unemployed while, at the same time, providing economic growth.

In addition to assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, he also led the country through the majority of World War II.

Many people say Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the American people regain faith in themselves.

The challenges of his presidency was just the tip of the iceberg.

Roosevelt fell ill with polio when he was 39 years old after spending a vacation with his family in New Brunswick in August 1921. In other words, during his eight years in the oval office, Roosevelt also had to endure and fight a disabling and life-threatening disease.

Unfortunately, on April 12, 1945, while at Warm Springs, Georgia, Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

The Roosevelt Dime

After his death, the U.S. Congress decided to honor President Roosevelt by portraying him on a coin's face.

The dime was chosen because of his close relation to the establishment of the March of Dimes, a program organized by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

The intention was to raise funds for research to find a cure for polio. Essentially, people supported the program by buying Lapel pins for 10 cents (a dime).

The program kickstarted in the weeks preceding Roosevelt's birthday on January 30, 1938, when radio personality, Eddie Cantor, encouraged Americans to give their loose change to Roosevelt's cause, urging listeners to send dimes to the White House.

The campaign was an astounding success and raised approximately 2,680,000 dimes (or $268,000), which prompted Roosevelt to broadcast his gratitude to the nation on TV:

"During the past few days bags of mail have been coming, literally by the truck load, to the White House. Yesterday between forty and fifty thousand letters came to the mailroom of the White House. Today an even greater number — how many I cannot tell you — for we can only estimate the actual count by counting the mail bags. In all the envelopes are dimes and quarters and even dollar bills — gifts from grown-ups and children — mostly from children who want to help other children get well. … It is glorious to have one's birthday associated with a work like this." — Franklin D. Roosevelt in his birthday celebration broadcast on January 30, 1938

Roosevelt's Fight Against Polio

Polio was a diagnosis that didn't discourage Roosevelt. He had already been elected as a New York state senator in 1910, served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and was also on the Democratic ticket as vice president in 1920.

In 1926 he started visiting warm springs to swim in the thermal spring waters as a treatment for polio. In the same year, he invested his personal money to purchase the Warm Springs property in Georgia and, the following year started the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, named after the therapeutic springs he had used to try to fight polio.

In 1927 the American Orthopaedic Association recommended that Warm Springs be designated a permanent hydrotherapeutic center.

The Polio vaccine was only declared safe and effective in 1955. By 1957 the incidence of polio in the United States had dropped by 90 percent. Franklin Roosevelt sadly didn't have the chance to be cured, but thanks to his efforts, thousands of Americans and children around the world were saved.

His contribution to the treatment of polio was indeed worthy of recognition on a United States coin.

Ten Cent Coin: Previous Designs and Composition

There was once a time when circulating coins in the United States were made of silver or gold.

Small silver coins, commonly known as dimes, were first produced by the U.S. Mint in 1796.

Here's a list of all the dimes minted in the US from 1796 until the present date:

Draped Bust Dime (1796 - 1807)

Draped Bust Dime


The dimes minted from 1796 through 1807 display the Draped Bust design.

The reverse showcased an eagle surrounded by a wreath. The design went through changes over the years with the inclusion of a shield on the eagle's breast and the addition of a ribbon inscribed with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Another addition was the insertion of arrows and an olive branch being held by the eagle's talons.

The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surround the image.

There is no indication of denomination or value on the coin.

Capped Bust Dime (1809 - 1837)

Capped Bust Dime


In 1809, the Capped Bust dime was introduced, featuring a design that closely resembled the one used on half dollars since 1807. The obverse features Liberty with her hair in a cloth cap secured by a band inscribed LIBERTY, with tresses flowing down to her shoulders.

Her bust is draped in a cloth or gown secured by a clasp or brooch. Seven stars are to the left and six to the right, and the date is below.

The reverse depicts an eagle perched on a branch and holding arrows, E PLURIBUS UNUM is on a scroll above and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and 10C. appear around the border.

The planchet diameter is approximately 18.8 mm, which distinguishes it from a small planchet (approximately 17.9 mm) format, struck in a closed collar, introduced in 1828.
Coinage from 1809 to 1827, but some years were skipped.

Seated Liberty Dime (1837 - 1891)

Seated Liberty DimeSource 

Like the half dime, the dime underwent a design change in 1860.

The Liberty Seated motif was retained on the obverse, but the stars were removed, and in their place, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, formerly on the reverse, was added. The reverse wreath was restyled to a larger format, enclosing the denomination expressed as ONE DIME.

This style was produced continuously from 1860 through 1891. A number of scarce issues were made during that span, including Carson City issues of the early 1870s. Dimes of 1873 and 1874 again appeared with arrowheads flanking the date, this time to signify a slight increase in weight.

In 1873, the authorized weight of the dime was raised from 38.4 grains to 38.58, the latter figure equaling exactly 2.5 grams. To signify the change, small arrowheads were placed to the left and right of the date on the dime (as well as the quarter and half dollar).

Dimes minted in 1873, before the change, appear without arrows. The second With Arrows format was employed from the latter part of 1873 and all of 1874.

After that, the weight remained the same, but the arrows were removed. The design otherwise remained unchanged.

Barber Dime (1892 - 1916)

Barber Dime


In 1892, the dime, quarter, and half dollar denominations were redesigned.

Known as the Barber dime, the ten-cent denomination featured on the obverse Lady Liberty facing right, wearing a Phrygian cap and a laurel wreath, with the word LIBERTY in tiny letters in a band above her forehead.

The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the image, with the date below. The reverse features a large wreath enclosing the words ONE DIME.

Mercury Dime (1916 - 1945)

Mercury Dime


In 1916, a new Dime design was introduced to replace the old Barber design that had been in use since 1892. Designed by A.A. Weinman, the new coin design featured a portrait of Miss Liberty facing left, wearing a winged cap.

The winged Liberty Head. Because of the resemblance to the Roman god, Mercury, the coin became known popularly as the "Mercury Head" Dime.

The reverse blends a Roman fasces and an olive branch, indicating America's military readiness but also their desire for peace.

The Mercury Head Dime series is one of the most popular United States Coins in all of American numismatics.

Introduction of the Roosevelt Dimes

FDR Dime


Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of America's most popular and influential Presidents. His portrait was placed on the coin design in 1946, following his death in 1945. After Roosevelt's death, the Treasury Department decided to honor him by placing his portrait on a coin. The U.S. Mint released the Roosevelt Dime on January 30, 1946, to honor his birthday.

The Roosevelt dime was designed by John R. Sinnock, whose initials "JS" appear below the tip of Roosevelt's bust on the obverse of the new coin.

1964 was the last year that Dimes were struck in silver. From 1965, dime blanks were made of copper nickel over a copper core.

Design Specifications


Obverse design: the Roosevelt Dime obverse shows the left-facing bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt, featured since 1946.

Inscriptions: LIBERTY, IN GOD, WE TRUST, Year.


Reverse design: it displays a torch with an olive branch to the left of it and an oak branch to the right.

The torch is there, representing liberty, the olive branch symbolizing peace, and the oak branch meaning strength and independence.


Mint: Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco.

The Mint makes the dime for circulation, as well as uncirculated and proof finishes for collecting. The Denver and Philadelphia Mint facilities make the circulating and uncirculated coins, and the San Francisco Mint makes the proof coins.

Artist responsible: Chief Engraver John Sinnock designed both verses of the Roosevelt Dime.

As we continue to use Roosevelt dimes in our daily lives, we are reminded of the strength and resilience of the American people and the importance of leadership in times of crisis.

Other Presidents in American Coinage

Nowadays, the obverse of most American circulating coins features the bust of a former U.S. President.

The first one to receive that honor was Abraham Lincoln back in 1909. He is the face on the penny.

Thomas Jefferson is the President who is on the nickel. As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he played a key role in drafting the Declaration of Independence and was later elected as the third president of the nation.

George Washington, the first U.S. President, appears on the quarter, while the Half-Dollar coin features John F. Kennedy.

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Mo Menezes
Mo Menezes
Researcher and Contributor

Murilo (Mo) Menezes is an attorney and tenured English professor. His passion for economics and coinage led him to the gold and silver industry where he writes in-depth articles about collectible coins; as well as coin news and investing articles...