I was honored when Gerry Fortin asked me to do a foreword for this book. Even without seeing the final manuscript there was never any hesitation. Just knowing Gerry and his painstaking attention to detail I was convinced his effort would be first class. Gerry has been a serious student of the Seated Dime series for over 20 years and, like many of America’s leading numismatists, has been able to focus his interests in just one area. For Gerry it became a passion. I always reveled when I found an interesting Seated dime variety and would call Gerry to discuss it. More often than not he was aware of it, and at some point in the discussion he would mention something along the lines that "if I turned the coin over I should see a die scratch on the reverse below the left ribbon bow".
The Seated dime is also the only non-copper series that has ever captured my collecting eye. The appeal for me is the same as for many Seated dime enthusiasts. Half dimes I found small and unattractive. Conversely the Seated Quarters and Half Dollars are much more expensive in the high-end grades I like to collect. So for many 19th Century collectors the Seated dime is the series of choice.
This is a series rich in many ways. Four different mints-- the Mother Mint in Philadelphia, as well as Branch mints in New Orleans, Carson City as well as San Francisco all produced issues. The series is additionally steeped in history as well, with the California Gold Rush, the Civil War and the Great Recession of the 1870’s (the second worst in our nation’s history) as well as the Nevada Silver Rush all ushering significant changes in our nation’s Minting operations.
Like the Quarter today the dime was the working horse of change in the 1800’s and into the 1900’s. Many Seated dime issues are prohibitively rare in Mint State with a number of dates being difficult to obtain even as a choice XF or AU example. Indeed a complete date/mintmark set of Seated dimes even in original problem-free VF is a stern challenge.
Abundant with varieties, the Seated Dime series has enamored collectors seeking unknown doubled dies, repunched dates, misplaced digits and other hubbing varieties. With the range of years which Seated dimes were issued, coupled with many high-mintage issues, there are undoubtedly interesting discoveries remaining to be made.
Gerry’s work is pioneering in more ways than one. It takes Sheldon’s epic Large Cent tome to a new level. It is the first truly comprehensive effort to identify marriages in a series where die consumption in a given year numbered not in the dozens, but in the hundreds. Unlike Large Cents highlighting differences by die polishing markers, Gerry details some of the most known phenomenal die blunders of any US series, including one of my favorites, the 1873 With Arrows Doubled die Obverse. In addition, Gerry details nearly every die combination with high-quality plate photos. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this Seated Dime ride.
November 12, 2003