“Full Split Bands” or “Full Bands” (Buy on eBay) is a grading designation assigned to Mercury Dimes which generally exhibit strong strikes and full design details. These coins are actively sought by collectors and command premiums above examples which do not display “Full Bands.”
A high point on the reverse design of the Mercury Dime is the two central, horizontal bands that bind together the fasces. On well-struck examples from a pair of well-defined dies, the two bands will show full separation. On weakly struck coins or coins produced from worn dies, the separation will not be visible. In order to qualify as “Full Split Bands” there can be no interruption of the bands due to weakness of strike, contact marks, or planchet problems. This must be the case for the central set of bands as well as the sets of bands at the top and bottom of the fasces.
The two major coin grading services PCGS and NGC evaluate mint state Mercury Dimes for “Full Bands” as part of the grading process. Coins which meet the criteria will have the designation “FB” after the numerical grade. Some issues of the series are extremely scarce with “Full Bands.” In these instances, coins carrying the designation are conditional rarities which can carry substantial premiums.
One of the most surprising conditional rarities of the series is the 1945 Mercury Dime struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The issue is common across all grades, but an extreme rarity when it exhibits “Full Bands.”