The design depicts Liberty seated on a rock holding the Union Shield. The shield bears a scroll with her name. The design unmistakably borrows from the English motif, except for the substitution of the Liberty cap for a trident. As executed on the new 1837 dime (and half dime, as well), the seated Liberty figure rests within clear, uncluttered fields. The reverse shows the words ONE DIME within a wreath, encircled by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (This was the first time that the word “dime” appears on a U.S. coin. The Capped Bust design that preceded the Seated Liberty used the designation “10C.”).
From its earliest days the Mint’s goal was to create a method for creating a consistent coinage that would deter counterfeiting and assure quality control. This goal was largely reached with the Seated Liberty coinage. On the small scale of the dime and half-dime, the obverse design, sans the 13 stars, required that only the date be punched into the working die. This was accomplished in one blow with a punch containing all four digits. The reverse design was truly a technological milestone. For the first time a working die was sunk without any design elements having to be added by hand (with the exception of the mintmark for pieces to be coined at New Orleans). Along with the close collar technology introduced on the Capped Bust dime, the uniformity within this and subsequent issues greatly discouraged counterfeiting.
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