Expanding on my discussion of the 1907 Silver United States Barber dime, I decided to research how the value people place on currency shifts over time. In my last blog post, I discussed the role of the Barber Dime in early twentieth century American society: purchasing consumer friendly goods which helped make life more comfortable. While a dime produced in 2019 may not hold as much value as a fifty-dollar bill, a dime to destitute families one hundred years ago meant placing another meal on the table, buying coal to heat a tenement apartment, and sending letters to relatives. One person I know who still places immense value on a dime is my one-hundred-year-old great aunt. Growing up in a tenement building in New York City without a father and six other siblings, my great aunt was instilled with the virtue of appreciating any value of currency. Whether she earned a couple of pennies delivering bread for a local bakery or a few quarters hand sewing clothing, she knew any amount of money helped my great grandmother in supporting their family. Even though this type of appreciation for smaller currency may not be as common in younger generations, I would argue that this appreciation still exists, but it has shifted to larger standards of currency – twenties, fifties, and one hundred-dollar bills.
Over the course of one hundred years, the Barber Dime’s function in society has shifted, transitioning from daily currency to a rare collectible. While I realize the Barber Dime I found was being used to purchase a snack from a vending machine, most of these coins are not used for daily expenditures. According to the Littleton Coin Company’s website, a Barber Dime, if kept in good condition, can be sold at auction for $16 (1907-S Barber Dime 1). Even though this may not be a significant amount when compared to other rare coins, it shows how the dime has only gained value in the antique coin market, indicating that the Barber Dime’s role has shifted towards a collectible item.
As discussed in my previous blog post, the Barber Dime was originally manufactured in 1907 in the San Francisco Mint, where 3.1 million copies were produced (1907-S Barber Dime 1). The designer Charles E. Barber, the sixth Chief Engraver in the United States Mint and the individual who the dime is named after, drafted and approved the design for the coin (1907-S Barber Dime). Past this information, I unfortunately do not know anything else about the Barber Dime. I do not know if the currency was abandoned after the establishment of the Federal Reserve, or whether the relationship between circulation and time of the coin has shown a linear or exponential decrease of usage in daily expenditures. I also do not know the previous chain of ownership, so unless I pursued forensic analysis, I will have little information regarding the coin’s prior ownership.
As an individual who enjoys United States history, I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment. I was able to invest time into researching an item I had kept in a drawer for nearly two years. Up until this point, I had never put much thought into the history of the dime, the role it performed in the early twentieth century, or the role it serves now as a collectible item. In the future, I fully intend to allocate more time towards researching the purpose and role currency served in American society during the Progressive Era.
“1907-S Barber Silver Dime.” Littleton Coin Company, Littleton Coin Company, https://www.littletoncoin.com/shop/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=29555&r eferralCode=WRB&productId=18058&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_6eGvfSd4AIVgo- zCh0ifwR2EAQYAiABEgLZI_D_BwE. Accessed 3 February 2019.