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    Description

    1792 Half Disme, VF25
    Judd-7, Pollock-7
    First Circulating U.S. Coinage Issue

    1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4 VF25 PCGS. CAC. OGH. Frank Meyer begins his 1954 article, "The Coins of the U.S.: Symbols of a People," as follows: "Coins of the United States serve not only as a medium of exchange, but also as an expression of the ideals and aspirations of a people." Perhaps no issue in American numismatics better represents the "ideals and aspirations" of this country than the 1792 half disme.

    President George Washington famously referred to the half dismes as "a small beginning" in the nation's coinage in his address on November 6, 1792. The production of half dismes was a critical step in asserting the sovereignty of the young United States, which had to that point relied entirely on a hodgepodge of Spanish, British and other world coins, and privately struck tokens. According Carl Carlson's March 1982 Numismatist article, "Birch and the Patterns of '92," Washington, Jefferson, and David Rittenhouse all favored production of half dismes as a practical solution to the coinage shortage plaguing commerce at the time. Carlson explains that it is impossible to say definitively why half dismes were preferred, but he speculates:

    "... twice as many half dismes as dismes could be struck from a given quantity of silver, and in a period when the total cost of transporting a heavy balance scale from Eckfeldt's place to the Mint itself was only nineteen cents, a disme represented a larger denomination than was probably needed for relief of the coin shortage at the lower levels of the economy."


    On July 13, 1792, Thomas Jefferson recorded in his account book that he had received "1500 half dimes of the new coinage." Researchers largely agree that the quantity represents the entire mintage for the issue. The surviving population varies widely in its level of preservation, from heavily circulated to virtually flawless, indicating two things. The coins were intended to meet the commercial needs of the period and were not struck as patterns, and many were saved as mementos of the nation's first coinage. Now, as then, collectors cherish these diminutive half dismes for their unparalleled historical significance.

    The present specimen is quite attractive, with sea-green and iridescent toning in the obverse fields and grayish-orange on the devices. The obverse fields and design elements have numerous tiny scratches and abrasions, yet the natural coloration so effectively masks them that they can hardly be seen. The reverse fields are grayish-gold with iridescent toning, and numerous tiny imperfections underneath. This 1792 half disme provides a remarkable opportunity for the advanced numismatist--or the collector who just want to own an example of this historic issue. Housed in an old green label holder.
    Ex: Palm Beach Signature (Heritage, 11/2004), lot 6097; Milwaukee Signature (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 1599.(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 Dates
    August, 2016
    10th-14th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 22
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    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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