If you took a spelling test in 1860 and the teacher asked you
to write the names of all of the circulated coins, you would
probably flunk. For one thing, there was no such thing as a
nickel, and the word we know as “dime” was spelled
The word disme
was French, and it was based on a Latin word “decimus.”
Now think of all of the words that use that same Latin root:
(decimal, decimate, decimeter) and you’ll realize that
decimus means “tenth part.” Since a dime is one-tenth
of a dollar, it was a pretty good word for a ten-cent coin,
even if they spelled it funny.
The first dimes
appeared in 1796. In 1860, the dime that was circulated was
called the “Seated Liberty” dime. It was minted
until 1891. The Barber-type dime, (named after its designer,
Charles Barber) replaced it in 1892.