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Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Tell Me Why |

Why Are Dimes Smaller than Pennies?

Why Are Dimes Smaller than Pennies?

Dimes are smaller than pennies because the coins’ sizes had to be different in order to match weights and values as the same weight of each metal was worth a different amount.

Dimes once were made of silver. Coins originally had a certain size and were given a value, depending on the kind and the amount of metal each coin contained. For example, silver dimes contained 10 cents’ worth of silver, and copper pennies contained a penny’s worth of copper.

Thus, a silver dime was worth more than a larger penny made from less-valuable copper. Today, all coins are made from less-valuable metals, but they are still minted in the old coin sizes that people are accustomed to using. Even though the monetary value of coins no longer represents the value of their metal content, the traditional sizes are maintained.

Does a dime weigh less than a penny?

Yes, the penny weighs 2.5 grams while the dime weighs 2.268 grams. The reason dates back to the 1850s when coins contained their face value in metal. At that time cents were converted from pure copper to cupro-nickel and then to bronze, while dimes were made of 90% silver.

Even then silver was far more valuable than bronze so dimes had to contain less metal and were smaller than cents. Unlike most other countries the US didn’t change its coins’ sizes when silver was removed in the 1960s so dimes remain smaller than both cents and nickels.

Content for this question contributed by Debbie Burns, resident of Raynham, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA