OK, let’s start with the history lesson … So called “Mercury Dimes” were minted between the years 1916-1945. The image was chosen from competition entries, and was the design of Adolph A. Weinman, who also happens to be the guy who designed and sculpted the Abraham Lincoln Statue.
Because of the design, they quickly became known as Mercury Dimes, although the truth is that the image portrays neither Hermes or Mercury, but that of a lady named Elsie Stevens. Weinman’s intentions were that the winged-helmeted Liberty actually represented freedom of thought – that in itself is a pretty magickal premise though, so maybe it was destined to take on a more auspicious role.
Also on the technical side, the coins were struck from 90% silver and 10% copper. Some say that they were carried in the form of pocket pieces, in a similar fashion to President Theodore Roosevelt who always kept his pocket piece on him in the form of a rare Greek coin portraying an owl, which was around 2,500 years old. The main thing about a lucky pocket piece is to always have it about your person, and it is touched as a protective amulet for general good luck.
Anyway, by the time is was known that the coin was meant to depict a winged cap of liberty, it had already come into being known as the Mercury Dime.
Because Mercury is hailed as the guardian of crossroads, games of chance and sleight of hand tricks – in a similar way to Papa Legba in African tradition – it was only a matter of time before this particular coin was adopted by gamblers as a good luck token. It was said that nobody could ever beat you if you carried one, unless they were playing a loaded game.
Another popular use for these coins was as an amulet of protection – they were often used as anklets, as they were meant to be able to tell you if you had been the victim of bad root workings. If the coin turned black, it meant that you had probably walked through hot foot powder or goofer dust. The probable reason for this was that the silver would tarnish if it came into contact with sulphur, which is a common ingredient in those types of powders.
Whatever the reason, it gave you warning that it had taken a hit for you, and that you needed to get on with a clearing work pretty damn quick … Similarly, if the chain or thread that you had it on broke, it was a sign that the coin had beaten off an attack from an enemy, so again, clearing workings were required.
Yet another use for this protective little charm was that it was said that if you had been poisoned with the likes of goofer dust or snake shed dust, you could boil the coin in milk or water and drink the liquid to “kill” the effects of any occult poisoning.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to track down a rare $2 bill, it is meant to be the ultimate gambling charm – you wrap the dime in the paper bill, anoint it with something like Red Algiers Fast Luck Oil or Van Van oil and pop it all in a red flannel bag. Remember to keep it fed, and the returns are said to be unbeatable.
So if you fancy giving this one a try, keep an eye out for this little silver trinket – make sure that you treat it right, and just maybe it will treat you right … Oh, and as a last word, it’s worth knowing too that Leap Year Mercury Dimes are said to be super lucky, so lucky hunting!
Writer and purveyor of the magickal arts.