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Description

1792 Half Disme, VF25
Historic First Year of the Denomination

1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, VF25 PCGS. Deep dove-gray toning consistently drapes both sides of this desirable early Federal silver issue. A thin, curved scratch is present from the N in INDUSTRY to the underside of Liberty's jaw. A significantly lesser thin mark crosses the cheek, and a small dig affects the top of the forehead and causes a slight wave to the piece. Much of the eagle is softly struck, but relatively sharp definition on the tail feathers and the left (facing) wing affirms that the piece has avoided heavy circulation wear. Liberty's hair near the ear is blunt, although the curls at the top of the head and above the shoulders retain splendid inner detail. The peripheral legends are generally sharp.
The 1792 half disme is the best known among the several experimental pieces of various denominations dated that year. These were not struck at the first Philadelphia Mint, since that facility did not open until 1793. They are believed to have been struck in cellar of sawmaker John Harper. The engraver was possibly John Birch, since the 1792 cent that bears his name has an effigy similar to that seen on the half disme. Henry Voigt and Joseph Wright are also engraver candidates. Legend states that the portrait is none other than Martha Washington, but there is no such contemporary evidence. We do know that the issue is associated with then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson recorded in his logbook that he took delivered 75 dollars of silver bullion to "the Mint" and two days later received "1,500 half dismes of the new coinage." Tradition has it that these pieces came from President Washington's silver, and were dispersed by Washington himself. There is little doubt that the issue was referred to by Washington in his November 6 address to Congress, when he mentioned the "small beginning in the coinage of half-dismes."
Ex: Dallas Signature (Heritage, 7/2006), lot 526.(Registry values: P9) (PCGS# 11020)

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Auction Dates
May-Jun, 2012
30th-3rd
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 17
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