Rare Dime Nets $1.32 Million at Auction

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August 20, 2019

One of the rarest coins in the U.S. sold for $1.32 million recently.

1894 S-Barber dime

An 1894-S Barber Dime, one of only nine known to exist, sold at auction at the World Fair of Money in Chicago. The buyer was Dell Loy Hansen, a businessman whose holdings include the Major League Soccer team Real Salt Lake.

Dell Loy Hansen

Hansen counts himself among the ranks of avid collectors and has set as a goal for himself an example of every coin ever cranked out by the U.S. Mint. With the purchase of this very rare dime, he needs only six more coins to complete the collection, according to an associate, John Brush of David Lawrence Rare Coins. Those six are not now for sale, Brush said.

The coin was so rare for a number of reasons, not least because only 24 were minted that year by the San Francisco Mint (which is why they're called S dimes). The Barber moniker comes from the name of the engraver, Charles E. Barber, who was a designer for many of the U.S. Mint coins. The San Francisco Mint created the 24 coins on June 9, 1894. As to why so few were struck, coin enthusiasts and historians have competing theories. One story is that the person in charge of the San Francisco Mint needed to make up for a $2.40 shortfall and so created the 24 dimes, anticipating to get that amount of money eventually in return. Another story attached to one of the dimes is that it is called the "ice cream" dime because, as the story went, the superintendent of the San Francisco Mint struck the dimes and then gave one to his daughter, who spent it on a serving of ice cream.

Jerry Buss, onetime owner of the NBA team the Los Angeles Lakers, was a previous owner of the coin most recently sold. Buss also owned the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks. He was an avid coin collector.

Hansen paid less than a previous bidder for such a coin. In 2016, an anonymous buyer paid $1,997,500 for an 1894-S Barber dime at an auction in Tampa, Fla.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2018
David White

Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2019
David White