Mercury Dimes > Ch 6 > 1945-S Micro S

[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, David W. Lange. This information was originally published in 2005 in The Complete Guide to Mercury Dimes]

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MINTAGE: (Included with 1945-S)

RARITY: It appears that several working dies employed the Micro S puncheon, and Mint State examples are fairly plentiful. Circulated pieces may nearly be called common. Only with full bands is this variety difficult to find.

As a testament to the appealing visual quality of 1945-S dimes in general, two examples of the Micro S variety have been certified as MS-69.

COMMENTS: Despite the use of two previous Small S punches from 1916 through 1941, the Micro S does not resemble either of these. It’s about the same size of the puncheon used 1916- 17, but it has more sweeping curves and pronounced serifs. Like that first Mercury Dime ‘S’ puncheon, it is almost perfectly symmetrical (photo).

As noted above, the 1945-S Micro S dimes are not especially rare, but they enjoy a popular following. This is due in no small part to this variety’s long term familiarity among collectors. The Micro S was discovered and reported by Bernard J. Maier only two years after being coined.93 Beginning in 1955, a Mr. H. Dwight Ludlow began to keep track of this variety among dimes retrieved from general circulation. Though he did not specify his employment, he indicated that he handled large quantities of small change and had examined some 161,623 dimes by the time of publishing his results in 1962. Of this number, 776 were 1945-S dimes having the “regular” (Knob Tail or Trumpet Tail) S, while just 75 bore the Micro S.94 This indicates that roughly 10% of the observed 1945-S dimes were of the Micro S variety.

Among USA regular-issue coins, the Micro S was used only in 1945 and for dimes alone. This puncheon had been created in 1907, when the size of the coins struck by the San Francisco Mint for use in the Philippine Islands was reduced. This tiny puncheon fit the small space available on dies of the ten- and twenty-centavos pieces. Last used in 1919, it was no doubt greased for protection from corrosion and set away in some tool locker at the Philadelphia Mint. The urgent need for evermore dies during the high production years of 1941-45 prompted the creation of two new ‘S’ mintmark puncheons, and it was at this time that the Micro S puncheon evidently was discovered and pressed into service. It was never used again after 1945.

This variety initially was assumed to be quite rare, and collectors took a great fancy to it while simultaneously overlooking truly rare issues such as the 1928-S Large S dimes. Its value, however, has not kept pace with inflation. Only a full bands specimen is highly priced in the current market, and only certain albums and display holders include a hole for this variety.

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