Famous 1792 Half Disme, VG10
1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, VG10 PCGS.
Although the 1792 half disme has traditionally been collected with
the pattern series, most present-day numismatists consider the
issue to be the first U.S. coin struck for circulation. Authority
for this view comes from an unimpeachable source, President George
Washington himself. In his November 1792 address to Congress,
Washington remarked, "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."
First Circulating U.S. Coin
The number of coins produced also argues strongly for the business-strike nature of this premier U.S. Mint product, as somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 pieces were originally struck. Later accounts suggest the coins were distributed by Washington himself, either through presentation to European dignitaries or as gifts to friends. The majority of examples seen today are worn, suggesting that the issue circulated extensively at, or near, the time of issue.
While the coins were produced under the authority of the Mint Act of April 1792, using Mint personnel and equipment, the 1792 half dismes actually predate the opening of the first U.S. Mint building by a few months. The Mint facilities were not ready to begin coinage operations in the summer of 1792, and much of its equipment was stored in the cellar of Philadelphia sawmaker John Harper on Sixth Street, about a block away. It was here that the half dismes were struck, on July 12, 1792 according to Thomas Jefferson's household account book. From this modest beginning, the 1792 half disme has become one of the most important and valuable issues in the U.S. coinage series. The surviving population is estimated as 250-400 pieces in all grades.
The present coin is well-centered on the obverse, with date and legend easily legible. The portrait is complete in outline and retains some interior detail. The reverse is not quite as sharp, but the surfaces of both sides show only minor abrasions with pleasing silver-gray and golden-brown patina. Population: 3 in 10, 72 finer (11/12).(Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# 946T, PCGS# 11020)
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