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1792 Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4

Image Information

Type Coin
Title 1792 Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4
Date 1792
Grade EF40
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 11020
Denomination H10C

1792 H10C Half Disme, Judd-7, Pollock-7, R.4, XF40 NGC. CAC. Although numismatic legend closely links George Washington to the striking of half dismes in 1792, the inaugural coinage of the United States Mint is better associated with Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State. On July 11, 1792, Jefferson deposited $75 worth of silver at the Mint, in the form of either bullion or foreign silver from circulation, and two days later returned to collect 1,500 newly coined half dismes. A July 13 notation in Jefferson's Memorandum book concisely stated: "Recd from the mint 1500 half dismes of the new coinage." The coins were struck under the auspices of the Mint from a deposit of silver, thus they were legal tender coinage under the terms of the law. Notations in Jefferson's account book after he collected the coins from the Mint indicate that the Secretary may have spent some during his trip from Philadelphia to Monticello. The "mint" referred to in Jefferson's Memorandum book was not the physical structure known today as the first mint building. The deed for the Mint's physical property was not signed until July 18, 1792, and construction of the building was not completed until later. The mint, at this point, was an entity that operated in a limited capacity out of Philadelphia saw maker John Harper's cellar, on 6th St., where the coining machinery was temporarily situated. It is believed that the 1792 half dismes were struck at that location between July 11th and 13th. The present example is pedigreed to "Colonel" Green. In the new reference work on 1792 pattern coinage by Pete Smith, et al, 1792: Birth of a Nation's Coinage (2017), this coin is listed among the institutional collections since it was previously housed in the Newman Money Museum. This is its first recorded appearance at public auction. The strike is bold and relatively even for a screw press impression, although the reverse die is minutely out of alignment toward 10 o'clock. The obverse shows minor wear on the highest hair curls of the portrait, while the reverse eagle exhibits light wear on the breast and right (facing) wing. The H in HALF is poorly defined. Both sides offer pleasing gunmetal-blue, russet, and lavender-gray toning. The current census of 1792 half dismes includes 169 confirmed coins (Smith, et al), most of which are in circulated condition with various impairments. The originality and strong quality of the present coin, along with its pedigree, will be greatly appreciated by the seemingly inexhaustible number of collectors who admire the United States' first regular issue coinage. Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $125.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15075, realized $132000. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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