A Dime For Trans

1916-d-mercury-dimeIt was a hundred years ago that the American ten cent piece was redesigned, and who is it that graces the obverse (front) of the small silver disk? Is it Liberty, the goddess that fronted so many American coins until about 1947? Or is it Mercury with a winged helmet? Info here.

I grew up calling it a Mercury dime. (I had a standing offer among my friends in the fourth grade: I would buy any of their pre-1946 dimes for a quarter.)

But look closely. The figure is wearing a cap, not a helmet. And among pagan gods, it seems that helmets aren’t the only headgear that come with wings.

Still, the capped head doesn’t have the flowing hair so often seen on 19th century coins. If a likeness of this person appeared in a restroom today, which would help people feel more comfortable? Or would s/he be a better fit for a Woolworth store?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to A Dime For Trans

  1. Liam says:

    Liberty/Libertas also is arguably also symbolised by Susan B Anthony and Sacagawea. The odd duck in US one-dollar coins is … the Eisenhower dollar (1971-78) – there is no attempt to meld a real person with the long tradition of Liberty/Libertas on the USD1 coin.

  2. Liam says:

    And let’s remember the furor created by the initial model for Freedom to crown the dome of the US Capitol: Jefferson Davis, the then Secretary of War and ultimate supervisor of the US Capitol reconstruction, nixed the liberty cap and it was replaced by something resembling Minerva’s headdress, Indiani-fied. (Americans since the time of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts love to use the noble Indian as a symbol of natural freedom – once they were subjugated right and proper….)


    Extra credit: the papal tiara is argued to have developed from the Roman pileus.

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