Prepare to regret not stopping to pick up every piece of spare change you see on the sidewalk; there’s a dime out there worth a whopping $1.9 million. Yowza! Surely you know that old, rare coins are worth a heck of a lot more than when they were minted, but there’s no denying that $2 million is quite literally a pretty hefty chunk of change.
So what’s so special about the dime in question? The 1894-S Barber Dime, which sold at an auction in Tampa for $1,997,500 in January 2016, is, not surprisingly, a very rare dime attached to a very interesting nugget of history.
“The 1894-S Barber dime is a classic rarity in American coinage, often grouped with the 1804 dollar and the 1913 Liberty nickel as ‘The Big Three’ of United States numismatic rarities,” said Heritage Auctions. According to their website, there are “no more than nine, and possibly only eight” of these dimes in existence currently.
And the story behind the 1894 dimes is just as fascinating. In 1893, the San Francisco Mint released nearly 2.5 million dimes into circulation, only to have the Panic of 1893, a four-year period of economic depression, drastically reduce demand for small change the following year. So, in 1894, only 24 dimes were minted, two of which were sent to Robert Patterson, the then-mint director, in order to be chemically tested.
There is much speculation today about the fate of the remaining dimes, though some have obviously been accounted for through private and public auctions. And according to Heritage Auctions, that million-dollar price tag isn’t surprising.
“The 1894-S Barber dime routinely sells for more than $1 million on the infrequent occasions when an example is offered at public auction, and private sales have been reported for more than $2 million, but the opportunity to own and contemplate one of these magnificent coins is truly priceless.”
So the next time you’re walking and you drop your change, stop and pick it up! You never know what you might find.