Which dime? Several dimes have played important parts in Barks' stories. There is the only dime Gladstone ever earned in his life (WDCS140), or the dime used repeatedly in the Flipism-story (WDCS149), just to name a couple. But, of course, this page concerns the only recurring coin in Barks' stories - Scrooge's Number One Dime.
Although Carl Barks showed us this old dime (American nickname for a 10-cent coin) in a total of 11 stories, it is still shrouded in veils of mystery. Not just for its alledged luck-bringing qualities but also how and when Scrooge actually got hold of it. Let's have a look...




The first job

In U$44 The Invisible Intruder (which was NOT written by Barks) it is shown that young Scrooge started working as a shoeshine boy. This was his first paid job. The trouble is that his price for shining shoes was 5 cents, so he couldn't have received a dime when starting business as he would have had no change at that particular point! The only way he could have obtained an earning of 10 cents would be if he polished two men's shoes in one go...
In a letter dated March 31, 1991, Barks wrote to artist Don Rosa about the origin of Scrooge's first dime: I think I mentioned once in an early story that he earned that coin by shining some man's particularly muddy shoes. Wish I could remember the issue number, etc. Was his client a miner? A nobleman? A banker? Can't recall.
But Barks is mistaken - he never mentioned exactly when or where Scrooge got his first dime.



Disasters strike

It seems to be a general misconception that Scrooge keeps his old dime because it brings him luck, but this is not necessarily the case. In U$36 The Midas Touch Donald says to Scrooge, You know, some people think that old dime is the secret of your wealth - that it's worked as a sort of charm for you!, and Scrooge responds, Bah! Mere superstition! Thriftiness is the secret of my wealth! And this old dime is a symbol of that thriftiness - nothing more!
Nevertheless, in one story we learn that the dime apparently do have some sort of luck-bringing qualities. In U$46 Lost Beneath the Sea Scrooge loses his coin and his whole business empire suffers. This suggests that the dime has some powers after all.



Almost there

Magica de Spell, Scrooge's most dangerous opponent, has no doubt that the dime is a luck-bringer. The superstitious sorceress does everything in her power to get hold of the coin in order to melt it down into an amulet that will be the most powerful lucky charm on Earth. Why? She explains it when we first meet her (in WDCS265), I've got to have that dime! I've figured out a new formula for making it's powers turn me into a rich billionairess!
She wants to be rich! And she believes that a coin touched repeatedly by the richest man in the world will do the trick. Maybe she is right. We shall never know as her plans are always foiled.



Inside a vault

Sitting on a pedestal

Loose in the pocket

Around the neck in a chain


We might venture a guess that Scrooge was at least 20 years old when he joined the Klondike goldrush in 1896. This would also suggest that he earned his first dime in the 1880s. But here we stumble over a major problem: It is quite impossible to show what Scrooge's first dime looked like!
Obviously, Barks never gave the dime its own credible history. We are only shown the coin in some detail in two panels - both from the ant story in U$33 Billions in the Hole.
This coin from 1890 was minted in 9,910,951 copies.
And even then something is severely wrong. Barks shows the dime with the year 1890 engraved on it which can not be correct because Scrooge was already a grown man at the time. Consequently, it cannot be his first dime. Further, Barks shows that the coin bears the portrait of an eagle and a number of stars. But that was not at all how a dime from that time looked. Until 1891 all dimes bore the portrait of the Goddess of Liberty. Eagles on dimes were discontinued 100 years earlier!

So we shall never know neither the look nor the year of Scrooge's Number One Dime!


http://www.cbarks.dk/THEDIME.htm   Date 2003-10-17