The dime has been a very widely collected coin in the Barber series since 1930 when Wayte Raymon’s National coin album was sold. All barber coins (non proofs) were available in circulation dating back to 1892 with most from the 20th century. For these coins even with modest wear in the LIBERTY on the obverse has worn away completely. By 1935 many Barber coins had been taken down to a G-4 condition or lower. Today for a coin to qualify and be considered as a grade VG-8 some letters from the word LIBERTY have to be visible. For a coin to be a Fine-12 the coin would have to have all letters in LIBERTY to be readable. The typical grade for a dime in the 1890s was around Good AG-3 to Good G-4. Today around 90 percent of Barber coins in collector's hands are worn and this is one of the unique things about the Barber coin series. The 1894-S dime which only 24 were struck and only eight have been confirmed, as of today these coins are considered to be the mountain top for most collectors but with a price tag of around $1.5M-$1.8M makes this coin not attainable for most collectors.
As far as pricing goes for Barber coins in 1946 A Guide Book of United States Coins the highest-priced coin was the 1894-s coming in at $2,000 in uncirculated grade. The lowest price for a common variety was 50₵ for the most part uncirculated 2$ but for most proofs 4$, boy, how times have changed!
DIE VARIETIES AMONG BARBER DIMES
1905-O is the major die variety of the Barber dime series and can easily be collected. Mintmark placement and orientation can be found from 1892 through 1908 that were repunched (this can be found throughout the entire series). There are a number of misplaced dates that are a result of hidden date numbers in the denticles. The reason for this is when the workman was about to enter the date the logotype was touching it lightly on the edge of the die this was to evaluate the metal's hardness.
ASPECTS OF STRIKING
When Barber coins were struck there was no intent for them to be collectible because of that they were struck at high speed on a knuckle action press. Typical dies would last 200,000-300,000 impressions which results in the earlier strikes to be sharper. The famous 1894-S is an example of these earlier strikes. Around 1893 collectors accepted whatever both weakly and sharper struck coins there is no record that a weakly struck coin can make it so the coin has complications. But we now know that the New Orleans issues are most often the weakly struck coins while the sharper struck came from the San Francisco issue. With things like the 1909-S being an exception
PROOF BARBER DIMES
From 1892 to 1915 proof was stuck on every year but proofs from 1901 to 1904 will most likely be lightly polished portraits in the die. The popularity of proofs declined in collectors' eyes which as a result 1914-1915 have the lowest mintages. A reason for the decline is that in 1909 the Lincoln cent was first minted and was stuck with a more matte finish, matte was not very popular amongst collectors at the time this led to them not liking the rest of the series. By 1913-1914 the Buffalo nickel, Lincoln cent, and all gold coins had matte finishes this left only 3 silver coins with the mirror finish one of them being the Barber dime collectors interest after that fell. Today the matte finish is highly sought after and is very expensive, time has treated this coin very well.
GRADING BARBER DIMES
1897-O MS-60 have some wear and tear on them that are inevitably mainly on the cheek and the obverse field on the right. Compared to MS-63 which will have very few contact marks and wear with MS-65 having only marks seen under heavy examination, anything higher than MS-95 will have basically no marks or marks so noticeable you would need to see it under high magnification. Many Barber coins have been cleaned especially earlier dated ones.
1907-S AU-50 will have wear on the head mainly on the hair while AU-53 there is also usually worn on the leaves and ribbon. AU-58 is glossy but has an incomplete glossy finish. Anything higher than an AU-58 will have full gloss and little to no wear.
1895-O EF-40 the forehead and heir will have wear but the word LIBERTY should still be strong with things high from EF-40 just having more detail in the places mentioned earlier.
1914-S with a grade of VF-30 the head will show more wear with basically no detail in the hair the work LIBERTY will be worn and leaves will also be showing signs of wear.
1901-S with a grade of F-12 the head will have extensive wear with the LIBERTY also showing wear especially in the E and the R but is still fully able to read. Anything higher than F-12 will have lots of detail in the leaves with the rim still sharp and bold and the ER being slightly lighter.
1895-O with a grade of VG-8 the LI in LIBERTY should be clear and the rest but be at least readable and with few traces of details
1892-S with a grade of G-4 there will be an outline of the head and a good amount of the rim is intact with all letters and dates being full.
1908-S with a grade of AG-3 the letters and dates are readable but anything neat the borders will mostly be worn away. Letters on the rim will be partially gone or worn away.
1911 with a grade of PF-67 are cleaned and hairlines will be blunt or grainy; these are not widely desired with their glossy finish and graininess most collectors would rather have an MS-60. PF-66 should have a hairline so detailed it can be looked at with magnification. This proof should be free of any problems. Proofs of 1911 are rare with only 543 minted out of those there are ones with a deep cameo finish which are extremely rare they have this due to the coin being struck on both sides.