Coins don't always seem to add up. For instance, a dime is worth ten cents while its counterpart, the nickel, only five. How does that happen and why is the dime smaller than its counterpart? This article explores these questions and more.
The word "dime" comes from Latin for one-tenth and refers to a coin with dimensions of 0.835 inches in diameter and thickness of 0.077 inches made of copper with a nickel coating, giving it its distinctive silver hue. On one side of it stands Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, while the reverse features industry symbols; all in all it weighs just 2.268 grams!
Past history saw even smaller coins in circulation. While today the dime is the smallest coin used in the United States, once upon a time a silver half dime was popular and only measured 16mm across with 0.75g in weight - this coin alone would have been worth 10 cents back then!
Today, digital scales are often the go-to method of choice when it comes to weighing coins accurately; however, this method may be inaccurate since a dime's weight varies slightly based on manufacturing tolerances and wear and tear. If you do not have access to such scales there are alternative techniques you can employ in gauging its weight such as flipping it or tapping its edge for rough measurements.
One option for measuring coin diameters is using a ruler or other measuring device. A standard metric ruler provides the easiest means of doing this as measurements will be recorded in millimeters instead of inches; however, standard rulers or vernier calipers can also be used effectively to take this measurement.
Coin sizes are determined by their metal content. When the United States mint first started creating coins, each denomination needed to contain a certain amount of silver for legal tender purposes - creating the silver dollar as the largest coin circulating at first, with other denominations following suit in terms of size proportionately to match its value. Later on, however, everyday transactions required lower value coins such as pennies and nickels being created as lower denomination options.
As such, the penny is smaller than its counterpart due to only having one-tenth of the silver content found in the dime. Also, as the US began reducing precious metal content in its coins, larger versions became impractical; therefore, both coins were shrunk. Nowadays, their only difference lies in monetary worth rather than size.