Bill Jones' Early Half Dimes
1792 Half Disme (non-competitive, display only)





Coin Details

Origin/Country: UNITED STATES
Design Description: HALF DIMES - FLOWING HAIR
Item Description: H10C 1792
Full Grade: NGC VF 30
Owner: BillJones

Set Details

Custom Sets: This coin is not in any custom sets.
Competitive Sets: Bill Jones' Early Half Dimes   Score: 0
Bill Jones' Type Set   Score: 10196
Bill Jones' Type Set Excluding Modern Issues   Score: 10196
Research: NGC Coin Explorer NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

This very historic little coin is one of the highlights of my collection. I believe that it was the first made for circulation U.S. coin which makes it one of the most desirable pieces in the U.S. series.

With the publication of the book, “1792: Birth of a Nation’s Coinage,” by Pete Smith, Joel J. Orosz and Leonard Angsburger, we now know much of history of this piece.

On July 10, 1792, secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, withdrew $100 in silver coinage from his account at The Bank of the United States, which was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Most of that money was probably in the form of Spanish coins, like the Spanish milled dollar or “pieces of eight.” The next day he took $75 of that silver to Mint Director, David Rittenhouse, who gave him a receipt in preparation for converting it into the first U.S. coins.

Since the U.S. Mint property had yet to be purchased, Jefferson’s silver was delivered by him or a servant to the saw maker’s shop of John Harper, who was an artisan in Philadelphia. Previously Harper had been involved with the production of the New Jersey coppers or cents.

On July 13, Jefferson noted in his Memorandum Book, "Re'cd from the mint 1,500 half dismes of the new coinage." Jefferson then set on a trip to his Virginia home, Monticello, with his daughter, Mary, whose nickname was “Polly.” During that trip Jefferson gave out the coins as tips or perhaps in payment for goods. Upon his return to Philadelphia on September 27, it appears that he had distributed all of the coins by that time.

There may have been a second coinage of the 1792 half dismes at the Philadelphia Mint in the fall of 1792. Die state (die rust) evidence seems to point to a second coinage, which may have totaled 200 to 300 pieces.

In his November message to Congress, George Washington indicated that there had been “a small beginning in coinage.” To me this give the 1792 half disme an official status as the first U.S. coin. When the Chief Executive Officer of a nation gives his official acknowledgment to a coinage, that is good enough for me.

This is the “Reader’s Digest” version of the story. Those who would like to know more should obtain access to the “1792: Birth of a Nation’s Coinage” book. It is a most interesting read.

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