Barber Dime Highlights from a World Class Collection

As part of our fantastic November Baltimore Rarities Night auction, we offer a phenomenal group of high grade Barber dimes, the vast majority of which are at the top of the population at PCGS. Examples in both Mint State and Proof formats are represented and many feature attractive colorful toning. For Registry Set players, this represents an opportunity to gain prestigious points and honors; for date collectors who seek to obtain only the best examples, this is your chance; for type set collectors you are very likely to find the epitome of Charles Barber’s design among the Superb Gems present in this offering. The only question is which of these fascinating examples to choose from?

The dime design that bears Barber’s name was the result of a failed design competition in 1891 that initially was to include submissions from the most distinguished artists in America. Unfortunately time and budget constraints forced a different plan. Instead, the competition was opened to the public, and 300 designs were submitted. Even with so many designs to choose from, the committee found quality to be lacking and only gave an honorable mention to two. Given that two members of the three person committee were Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles Barber, this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Both men felt that they were the only artists competent enough to achieve satisfactory results. Fortunately for Barber, Edward Leech the new Mint director backed him and assigned him the task of redesigning the dime, quarter and half dollar.

Barber’s design features a bust of Liberty on the obverse reminiscent of that used on several bronze and silver coins of the French Third Republic. The reverse retains the wreath of grains that James Longacre had initiated on the Liberty Seated dime in 1860. These coins would go into production in 1892 and continue until 1916. For the dime, minor changes were made to the obverse in 1900 and the reverse in 1901, but these are mostly inconsequential. In 1916, the Barber dime would give way to Adolph Weinman’s Winged Liberty dime, most commonly known by its “Mercury” nickname.

Collectors of this classic series are sure to appreciate the present collection, and numismatists would do well to study the lots carefully. It may be some time before examples of this caliber are offered again, and bidders should strike while the iron is hot.  

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