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Lot
3062

1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, VF25 PCGS Secure....

2010 August Boston, MA Signature & Platinum Night ANA Coin Auction #1143

 
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Auction Ended On: Aug 11, 2010
Item Activity: 11 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location:

Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Description:

1792 Half Disme, VF25
The First Circulating Coins Struck
1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, VF25 PCGS Secure. The 1792 half disme is among the most important issues of the United States Mint. They were the first circulating coins struck under the authority of the Coinage Act of 1792, a pivotal moment in the history of our nation and its coinage. A connoisseur should think hard before missing this rare opportunity.
Recent research indicates that Thomas Jefferson, then the Secretary of State, was directly involved with the production of the half dismes and may have even personally delivered the silver used to strike the coins. George Washington specifically referenced these coins in his November 6, 1792 State of the Union Address when he said: "There has also been a small beginning in the coinage of half dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them." Although classified as a pattern in Judd and Pollock, the half dismes clearly circulated, which appears to have been Washington's intention.
Legend has it that the half dismes were given out by George and Martha Washington to dignitaries in Europe and their friends in Virginia. Another popular story says that the Washingtons donated their silverware to strike these coins. Joel Orosz and Carl Herkowitz (2003), however, present a convincing case that the coins were made from bullion. Yet another legend holds that Martha Washington served as the model for the 1792 half disme, but this appears to be an embellishment by Mint Director James Ross Snowden some years later. If anything, these myths reveal one thing: that the 1792 half dismes have inspired collectors and others for generations.
The half dismes were not actually struck at the Philadelphia Mint, but are generally believed to have been minted in the cellar of John Harper, a saw maker. Various sources estimate the mintage at 1,500 or 2,000 pieces. Probably 10 to 20 percent of these coins survive, which is a remarkable number for an early United States issue. It is reasonable to assume that the half dismes were specially presented to select individuals who saved them for posterity, as reported by the Mint's Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt.
The unusual spelling "disme" was used internally by the Mint for many years and first appeared in Simon Stevinus of Bruges' De Thiende (The Tenth), which was a mathematical text published in 1585. The pronunciation used by Americans in 1792 is unknown, but many numismatists think that it was probably pronounced "deem." Another common pronunciation is "diz-me." The legend on the obverse, which stands for LIBERTY, PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY, is reminiscent of Benjamin Franklin's proverbs.
The present coin is an attractive example of this highly desirable issue. A lovely shade of gray-blue toning covers both sides. The high points show even wear, and all of the details are well defined. A couple of shallow scratches around the HA in HALF are noted for future pedigree purposes. There is a light planchet crack (as made) from the field above Liberty's head through the portrait, terminating at her upper neck. The reverse has two minor planchet flaws: one at the juncture of the eagle's (right) facing wing and body, the other in the field below the left (facing) wing. An excellent piece for an important cabinet of American coins.(Registry values: P9) (PCGS# 11020)

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