Although the dime is an essential part of the decimal coinage system, it was one of the last coins issued by the United States Mint when operations first began. By the time it made its debut in 1796, as the Draped Bust/Small Eagle dime, the Mint had already been making copper cents and half cents for three years; silver dollars, half dollars and half dimes for two years; and even two gold coins—the eagle and half eagle—for a year. The only other coins delayed, like the dime, until 1796, were the quarter dollar and quarter eagle.
It’s not as though the dime was an afterthought. Actually, Thomas Jefferson had called for such a coin as far back as 1783 as part of a proposed decimal system. He was joined in his advocacy by Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and the man who would become the first mint director, eminent scientist David Rittenhouse. The decimal system was gradual.... (Expand Text)