1792 Half Disme
The 1792 Half Disme is a historic numismatic rarity that ushered in the production of coinage for the United States of America. Alexander Hamilton was ordered by Congress, on April 15, 1790, to establish a Mint for our new country. Just over a year later, the Morris Bill was drafted, detailing the framework of the American coinage system.
By April, 1792, the Mint Act was passed; and, by order of George Washington, the first coin was set to be minted. The Half Disme was conceptualized by David Rittenhouse who went on to become the very first Mint Director.
Thomas Jefferson, himself, delivered the silver to the manufacturer, John Harper, who was a toolmaker by trade. Three months later, Harper presented Jefferson with 1,500 coins given the name Half Dismes, per the Mint Act.
The Half Dismes were struck using dies created by the engraver, Robert Birch. The Morris Bill required that the Half Dismes contain 0.8924 silver along with other metals for a total weight of 20.8 grams and a diameter of 17.5 millimeters. On November 6, 1792, these coins were put into circulation by the United States Mint as the first legal tender of our nation.
The obverse of the coin displays a depiction of Liberty facing to the left, with the date below the bust, and the phrase "LIB PAR OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY" in the legend. The reverse shows an Eagle, also facing to the left, with "HALF DISME" beneath it and the legend displaying "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." The mintage for the 1792 Half Disme was 1,500. Unfortunately, approximately just 275 are estimated to have survived in all grades with about 15% of those in mint state.
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