1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, XF45 PCGS....
1792 Half Disme, Judd-7, XF451792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, XF45 PCGS. The famous 1792 half disme is one of the most coveted issues in all of American numismatics, and rightly so. It was (possibly) designed by British engraver William Russell Birch, and (probably) struck in the coachhouse cellar of John Harper, a Philadelphia sawmaker. The original issue of 1,500 (or 2,000) pieces was allegedly made using silver bullion contributed by George Washington, perhaps even from his own personal silverware. This story is, alas, unconfirmed.
Historic Early Pattern
Historic Early Pattern
Such is the history of the 1792 half disme. Many of the facts about these fascinating pieces are simply unknown, but can be reasonably deduced: like the name of their designer. William Russell Birch executed other coin designs very similar to that of the half disme, making him the most likely candidate for authorship. Other facts (like the original number produced) are likely to remain uncertain; possibly forever. That will not reduce the ongoing fascination of numismatists with these coins, however. They are simply too interesting to ignore.
The issue was avidly collected by early numismatists, and auction appearances are frequently encountered as early as the 1860s. One particularly nice specimen was offered as lot 2864 of the Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (Woodward, 3/1865): "Martha Washington Half Disme, 1792; a splendid proof; a finer coin is not known; in this condition of the highest rarity." The lot realized $40, a large sum at the time, to a collector named Hoffman.
The present coin is an attractive example of this popular issue, with gray-blue toning and light tinges of golden-rose in the fields. It is largely free of the issues or distracting problems that plague these early coins, with only one shallow planchet flaw located to the left of the eagle. It also exhibits a few crisscrossing adjustment marks in the center. The wear is even and the strike is uniform, resulting in rewarding detail remaining in the hair, and a strong profile to admire. A lively example that will certainly attract well-deserved attention when it crosses the auction block. Population: 2 in 45, 34 finer (11/09).(Registry values: P9) (PCGS# 11020)
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