Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): In 1809 the Capped Bust dime made its appearance. The design is similar to that used on early half dollars beginning in 1807. The obverse features Liberty with her hair in a cloth cap secured by a band inscribed LIBERTY, with tresses flowing down to her shoulders. Her bust is draped in a cloth or gown secured by a clasp or brooch. Seven stars are to the left, and six to the right, the date is below. The reverse depicts an eagle perched on a branch and holding arrows, E PLURIBUS UNUM is on a scroll above and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and 10C. appear around the border. The planchet diameter is approximately 18.8 mm, which distinguishes it from a small planchet (approximately 17.9 mm) format, struck in a closed collar, introduced in 1828.
Coinage during the 1809-1827 years was intermittent; some years were skipped. Specimens of commoner dates are readily encountered in various grades from Good to Very Fine. Even Extremely Fine and AU coins can be found without too much difficulty. Uncirculated pieces, particularly finer examples of these, are scarce. Striking is apt to vary from issue to issue, and finding one with excellent definition of detail is not always easy.
The Capped Bust, Small Dentil type is an adaptation of the previous 1809-1827 style and is the same except for certain minor modifications. The diameter was reduced slightly (about 1mm) and the border has denticles spaced closer together than on the previous type (although some transitional pieces have the old denticle style). The stars are slightly smaller and there is some subtle restyling.
Dimes of the Capped Bust, Small Dentil type were made from 1828 thorough 1837 inclusive. No dates are rarities, although there are several elusive varieties within the range. Examples are available in all grades from Good through Uncirculated, with Very Good to Very Fine being the most often seen. Uncirculated pieces, particularly in the higher states, may take some searching but are available for a price.
-- Reprinted with permission from "United States Coins by Design Types - An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor" by Q. David Bowers