Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    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) (NGC ID# D93T, PCGS# 11020)

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

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  | PCGS Guarantee of Grade and Authenticity  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2010
    11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,176

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% 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.
    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 5 days left to consign to the 2018 September 5 - 10 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The coins arrived today. Thank you very much for the special service. You are one of the reasons Heritage is such a great company to work with. Very Special!
    Vero Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 July 12 - 15 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando
    2018 July 12 - 15 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando
    REALIZED $6,051,572
    2018 June 28 - 29 HKINF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    2018 June 28 - 29 HKINF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    REALIZED $3,031,505
    2018 June 27 - 29 HKINF World Currency Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    2018 June 27 - 29 HKINF World Currency Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    REALIZED $1,341,736