A dime a dozen
Jan 06, 2014 | 9229 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DURING THE PERIOD of 1796 to 1837 the monetary coin called a dime was produced of almost 90 percent silver, the remaining portion being copper. If it was still manufactured in that amount of silver it would cost more to produce than its face value. Because of the Coinage Ace of 1965 the dime were no longer produced with any silver.

A dime was then made of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. The cost of a penny now cost approximately double its face value to produce. A post card in the past cost only a penny and was referred to as: “a penny post card.” A lollipop, also known as a sucker, was known as an all-day sucker and only cost a penny. In my younger days most comic books cost only 10 cents. You could get a decent cup of coffee for a nickel and then it went up to a dime. It was before my day when a paperback novel sold for ten cents and was referred to as: “A dime novel.”

There was outrage in the beginning of the 1950s when soda pops went up from a nickel to six cents. Not long after Charlotte and I got married we moved from our hometown of Idabel, Okla., to Dallas. One place we could buy five hamburgers for a dollar. Now days it seems that there is not any slowdown of inflation. It is amusing when someone advertising a particular product on television will use the word “just” when giving the price of their product. The price they quote which is supposed to be the sell price still seems outrageous to me.

IN 1866 the Galveston Daily News, a newspaper, spoke of: “The San Antonio Ledger says the city is well stocked with peaches at a dime a dozen.” Even up through the mid-1950s you could still buy things at a reasonable price. Even a thin dime might still buy a can of vegetables. A loaf of bread cost around seventeen cents.

During the 20th century the expression: “a dime a dozen” was often heard. It meant: “something common and easy to get.” The Sandusky Register of 1937 used the phrase as follows: “Smiles were a dime a dozen in the Yankee clubhouse. Even Colonel Ruppert, owner of the club went from player to player shaking hands.”

Dub Mowery is a Gospel preacher in the Church of Christ. A native of Southeast Oklahoma, he is the author of Colloquial Sayings & Expressions (Morris Publishing, 2008)

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Barbara Stancliff
January 06, 2014
I remember, as a teen in the 1950s, being sent to a little store in our neighborhood with $1, to buy a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, and brought home a few cents in change. No more.