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    1792 Half Disme, AU58
    First U.S. Coinage Issue, Judd-7
    Historically Important and Aesthetically Pleasing

    1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7 AU58 PCGS Secure. The Mint Act of 1792 established the United States Mint and authorized the coinage of various denominations, including the half disme, or five-cent piece. The half disme was the first denomination struck by the newly established mint, probably because it was the smallest silver coin authorized by the Mint Act. There was a crippling shortage of small change in the national economy at that time, and the supply of silver bullion for coinage was quite limited. Producing half dismes would result in a greater number of coins than any other denomination, so it was logical to strike those coins first.

    The coins were actually struck in the cellar of Philadelphia sawmaker John Harper, located at the corner of Sixth and Cherry Streets, before the mint building was ready for operations. An entry in Thomas Jefferson's account book on July 13, 1792 records that 1,500 half dismes were delivered that day. President George Washington mentioned the half dismes in his fourth annual address on November 6, 1792, noting that "there has been a small beginning in the coinage of half dismes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them."

    The 1792 half disme has always enjoyed great popularity with collectors of all disciplines. Traditionally collected with the pattern series, most numismatists agree that it is more properly considered a regular-issue today. Henry Chapman described an early auction appearance of the 1792 half disme in lot 5568 of the John Story Jenks Collection (Chapman, 12/1921):

    "Half disme 1792. A.W. 4. LIB . PAR . OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY (Liberty, parent of Science and Industry). Undraped bust of Martha Washington as Liberty facing left, 1792 beneath. R. UNI : STATES OF AMERICA. Eagle flying to left, beneath HALF DISME *. Edge milled. Uncirculated. Obverse evenly struck, the reverse slightly low, so the milling is off on the lower edge. Sharp, beautiful example. Extremely rare. Note. - This was the first coin struck after the establishment of the U.S. Mint, and was made from silver plate supplied by President George Washington for the special purpose. Plate. Crosby, plate x, 19, fig. 106, p. 365. From the Cleneay sale."

    The lot realized $92.50, a respectable sum at the time. Recent auction appearances have seen the two finest 1792 half dismes sell for more than $1 million on four occasions. Present day numismatists believe the obverse portrait was just a generic representation of Liberty, not modeled after Martha Washington, and if Washington did provide the bullion for the half disme coinage, it was probably from Spanish-American silver coins he had acquired, not his silverware.

    The coin offered here is a spectacular near-Mint example that shows just the slightest trace of actual wear on the strongly impressed design elements. The coin is well-centered, with strong dentilation all around. The silver-gray surfaces retain traces of original mint luster and are remarkably free of distracting surface marks. The overall eye appeal of this specimen is extraordinary. Population: 9 in 58, 16 finer (11/14).(Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# D93T, PCGS# 11020)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,706

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Numismatic Background and Census of 1802 Half Dimes: A Classic American Rarity
    This 64-page book cites mintage and rarity estimates by prominent numismatists and documents the currently known 1802 half dime appearances. Each of the 32 documented examples includes an enlarged obverse/reverse photograph, the author's assigned grade, the provenance of each coin, auction prices realized or dealer fixed asking price, and a unique serial number for each specimen that will facilitate retrieval for research, cataloging, or price-information purposes. Reserve your copy of this remarkable volume for just $29.95 today.
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