What’s on the back of a dime? If you’ve ever closely examined the coins jingling around in your pocket or rattling in your change purse, you may have glanced at the back of a dime and wondered about the torch, leafy branches, and inscription depicted there.

These elements make up the reverse design of the iconic Roosevelt dime, which has been minted continuously by the U.S. Mint since 1946.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The back of the Roosevelt dime features a torch surrounded by an oak branch on one side and an olive branch on the other. The inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM” arcs across the top while “ONE DIME” runs along the bottom rim.

A Brief History Behind the Roosevelt Dime

The Roosevelt Dime, one of the most iconic coins in American history, has a rich and fascinating history. Introduced in 1946, it replaced the Mercury Dime, which had been in circulation since 1916. The decision to transition from the Mercury Dime to the Roosevelt Dime was prompted by a desire to honor President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had recently passed away.

Transitioning from the Mercury Dime

The Mercury Dime, also known as the Winged Liberty Head Dime, featured a depiction of Liberty wearing a winged cap, leading to its popular nickname. However, the design of the Mercury Dime had been in use for over 30 years, and there was a growing desire for a new design that aligned with the changing times.

The United States Mint saw an opportunity to honor President Roosevelt and decided to introduce a new dime design.

The transition from the Mercury Dime to the Roosevelt Dime was met with mixed reactions. Some collectors and enthusiasts mourned the loss of the beloved Mercury Dime design, while others embraced the new design as a fitting tribute to President Roosevelt.

Regardless of opinions, the Roosevelt Dime quickly gained popularity and has since become a staple of American coinage.

Why the Roosevelt Dime Was Created

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s impact on American history cannot be overstated. He led the country through the Great Depression and World War II, leaving a lasting legacy of social and economic reforms.

The decision to honor President Roosevelt by featuring him on the obverse side of the dime was a way to commemorate his contributions to the nation and to remind Americans of his leadership during challenging times.

The reverse design of the Roosevelt Dime features an olive branch, torch, and oak branch, symbolizing peace, liberty, and strength, respectively. These elements are surrounded by the words “United States of America” and “E Pluribus Unum,” emphasizing the unity and diversity of the nation.

Breaking Down the Key Elements of the Reverse Design

Dimes Are In One Dollar

The reverse design of the Roosevelt dime is a fascinating combination of symbols and inscriptions that hold significant meaning. Let’s take a closer look at the key elements that make up this iconic design.

The Central Torch Motif

At the heart of the reverse design is the central torch motif. The torch represents enlightenment, progress, and hope. It is a symbol that has been used throughout history to signify the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of society.

The torch on the Roosevelt dime serves as a reminder of the ideals and values that the United States holds dear.

Oak and Olive Branches

Flanking the central torch are two branches – one of oak and one of olive. The oak branch symbolizes strength, stability, and endurance. It is a nod to the resilience and fortitude of the American people. On the other hand, the olive branch represents peace and reconciliation.

Together, these branches embody the balance between strength and peace that the nation strives to achieve.


The reverse design of the Roosevelt dime also features several inscriptions. At the top, you will find the words “United States of America,” which proudly display the country’s name. Just below that, the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” can be seen, which translates to “Out of many, one.”

This motto reflects the nation’s unity and diversity. Finally, the denomination of the coin is inscribed at the bottom, with the words “One Dime.”

The reverse design of the Roosevelt dime is a testament to the values and ideals that the United States holds dear. It is a symbol of progress, strength, peace, and unity. Next time you come across a dime, take a moment to appreciate the intricate details and the rich symbolism that make up its reverse design.

The Significance of the Torch, Leaves, and Mottoes

Torch as a Symbol of Liberty

The torch featured on the reverse side of the Roosevelt Dime holds great symbolism. It represents liberty and enlightenment, a key aspect of the American identity. The torch has been a powerful symbol throughout history, often associated with freedom and the pursuit of knowledge.

The inclusion of the torch on the dime serves as a reminder of the enduring values that the United States holds dear.

Oak and Olive Branches for Strength and Peace

Flanking the torch on the Roosevelt Dime are oak and olive branches, which symbolize strength and peace, respectively. The oak branch represents the strength and resilience of the American people, while the olive branch represents peace and harmony.

Together, these branches serve as a reminder of the nation’s commitment to both strength and peace, values that are fundamental to the American spirit.

“E Pluribus Unum” and National Unity

One of the mottoes found on the reverse side of the Roosevelt Dime is “E Pluribus Unum,” which translates to “Out of many, one.” This motto reflects the idea of national unity, highlighting the diverse backgrounds and origins of the American people coming together as one nation.

It emphasizes the strength that comes from unity and the shared values that bind the country together.

“One Dime” Indicating the Coin’s Face Value

At the bottom of the reverse side of the Roosevelt Dime, you will find the phrase “One Dime” inscribed. This simple but important indication serves to inform individuals of the coin’s face value. It ensures that the dime is easily recognizable and distinguishable from other denominations.

This feature is especially important for everyday transactions and the smooth functioning of commerce.

Later Changes to the Roosevelt Dime Design

Over the years, the design of the Roosevelt dime has seen a few changes. These modifications have been made to enhance the aesthetics of the coin and to incorporate new security features. Two notable changes include adjustments to the torch flame and the movement of the mint mark.

Adjustments to the Torch Flame

In 1965, the original design of the Roosevelt dime underwent a modification to the torch flame. The original design depicted the torch with a single flame. However, to improve the clarity and definition of the flame, the design was altered to include three separate flames.

This change was implemented to make the coin more visually appealing and to provide a more detailed representation of the torch.

With the three flames on the torch, the Roosevelt dime became more distinct and recognizable. This change not only enhanced the overall design of the coin but also added a touch of sophistication to its appearance.

Collectors and enthusiasts appreciated this subtle yet significant adjustment, as it showcased the attention to detail and craftsmanship that goes into the creation of each dime.

Moving the Mint Mark

Another change to the Roosevelt dime’s design came in 1968 with the relocation of the mint mark. Previously, the mint mark was positioned above the torch, near the word “ONE” on the reverse side of the coin.

However, starting in 1968, the mint mark was moved to the obverse side of the coin, just to the right of Roosevelt’s neck.

This change was made to improve the security and authentication of the coin. By moving the mint mark, it became more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate the coin accurately. The new placement also allowed collectors and numismatists to easily identify and differentiate the coins minted at various locations.

Today, collectors and coin enthusiasts can appreciate the evolution of the Roosevelt dime’s design. The adjustments made to the torch flame and the relocation of the mint mark showcase the continuous efforts to improve the aesthetics and security of this iconic coin.

Fun Facts About the Roosevelt Dime

Franklin D. Roosevelt Died Before the Coin’s Release

It is interesting to note that Franklin D. Roosevelt, the person depicted on the Roosevelt dime, actually died before the coin was released. President Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945, and the new design for the dime was approved on January 30, 1946.

The coin was officially released in 1946, which means that Roosevelt never got to see the dime with his likeness on it.

The Dime Has Been Struck Over 4 Billion Times

The Roosevelt dime has been struck over 4 billion times since its introduction in 1946. This makes it one of the most widely circulated and recognizable coins in the United States. The dime’s composition has changed over the years, from being made of 90% silver and 10% copper in the early years to the current composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.

With its long history and widespread use, the Roosevelt dime has become a symbol of American currency and a staple in everyday transactions.

What’s On The Back Of A Dime – Conclusion

With its dignified design of torch, branches, and stirring mottoes, the back of the Roosevelt Dime evokes core American values like liberty, strength, peace, and unity. Studying the details and meaning behind the reverse imagery allows us to appreciate the rich symbolism contained in even our smallest pocket change.

Next time you receive a dime in change, take a moment to reflect on the storied history behind this iconic American coin.

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