Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 110

Lot 750

1792 Silver Half Disme. PCGS graded MS-64. The history of the production of 1792 half disme is one of the most important events in the birth our coinage. Congress met and one of their initial tasks was to figure out how to get coins struck for our new country. Thus, on April 15, 1790 Congress directed Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to prepare a plan for the establishment of a Federal Mint. Soon President Washington approved a resolution by Congress to establish a mint. On October 31, 1791 the Senate formed a committee under the expert guidance of Robert Morris to introduce a bill that would specify our federal coinage system. The Morris bill specified designs, weights and inscriptions for coins, Congress made some amendments and the bill was signed into law by President Washington on April 2, 1792. The law specified half dismes to be struck from .8924 fine silver, the balance other alloys, with a diameter of 17.5 mm and weight of 20.8 grains.

David Rittenhouse became the first Director of the Mint on July 1, 1792 appointed by President Washington. Rittenhouse proposed that dismes and half dismes to be first produced United States coins. On July 13, 1792 Thomas Jefferson records receiving 1,500 half dismes from the Mint, and these were the first produced coins under these new proposals and resolutions. These half dismes conformed in weight and composition with the designs as specified by the Mint act of 1792, and were the first official coins produced by the United States. Interestingly these were struck from dies likely prepared by engraver Robert Birch, in the cellar of John Harper on a screw press, at the corner of Sixth and Cherry streets in Philadelphia while the buildings and equipment was being prepared to open the first United States Mint. Washington wanted to be there for this important event, and delayed his departure from Philadelphia a few days to witness the striking of these coins, likely on July 9 or 10, 1792. Also present were Jefferson, Voigt, Eckfeldt and Rittenhouse. These coins are legal tender and most were placed into circulation. Washington referred to these half dismes in his annual address on November 6, 1792 as follows:

"In execution of the authority given by the legislature, measures have been taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the establishement of our Mint. Others have been employed at home. Provisions have been made for the requisite buildings, and these are now putting into proper condition for the purposes of the establishement. There has been a small begininng in the coinage of half dismes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them."

The main device of the 1792 half disme is the bust of a women facing left, with short curly hair, emblematic of Liberty. The legend is abbreviated on the first two words as LIB (ERTY) PAR (ENT) OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY. The date is placed just below the bust line. For the reverse, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds, with HALF DISME in two lines below the main device of a delicate eagle with wings spread, also facing to the left. Some time after these were struck an issue of the larger Disme was also struck in very limited numbers, the obverse abbreviations were changed to read LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUS(TRY). The reverse of the disme is paired with a matching eagle but this time it faces to the right. The dies were likely by Henry Voigt, but possibly Robert Birch was involved with this issue for the die work.

Nicely toned with reflective surfaces. The strike is sharp and the centering decent to keep all the legends and devices intact.These are often found with less than perfect centering. Precious few survived this well preserved. Clearly, and without question one of the most historic and important issues, and a hallmark to any advanced collection of United States coinage. Only 1,500 struck, with less than 200 example is estimated to have survived according to PCGS Pop Report. Pop 8; 5 finer, 3 in 66, 1 in 67, 1 in 68. (PCGS # 11020) Estimate Value $350,000 - UP

Realized $444,000

Go to lot:  

Home | Current Sale | Calendar of Events | Bidding | Consign | About Us | Contact | Archives | Log In

US Coins & Currency | World & Ancient Coins | Manuscripts & Collectibles | Bonded CA Auctioneers No. 3S9543300
11400 W. Olympic Blvd, Suite 800, Los Angeles CA 90064 | 310. 551.2646 ph | 310.551.2626 fx | 800.978.2646 toll free

© 2011 Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, All Rights Reserved