Regardless of grade, the ownership of a 1792 half disme clearly indicates that the numismatist is a serious student of American coinage. Despite opinions to the contrary, this issue is the first circulating American coin struck under authority of the Mint Act of April 1792.
Heritage Auctions is pleased to be able to again offer the Starr specimen of the 1792 Half Disme in their upcoming 2013 January 9-13 US Coin FUN Signature Auction; this is the same coin that sold in the 2006 Central States auction for $1,322,500. This is only Specimen certified by PCGS. It is tied numerically with a PCGS MS67, and only exceeded by an NGC MS68. A roster of more than two dozen high quality pieces shows the position of the Starr coin as the only Specimen strike, and the probable finest known.
The consignor who sold this coin in 2006 stated that, "This specimen striking of the 1792 silver half disme is truly a coin that transcends numismatics. It occupies a place in our Nation's history unequaled by any other coin. For centuries, the coinage of silver was a royal prerogative. For a young nation, the coining of these half dismes was of enormous political significance and an expression of national sovereignty understood around the world. Numismatic scholar Walter Breen wrote, 'Their historic context has for over 120 years made these half dismes among the most prized American silver coins.' Today, as a unique specimen striking, this coin must be considered America's most important numismatic coin and a priceless historical treasure."
The cataloger for the Starr Collection noted that this was an early strike: "Some reverse letters soft, particularly A and M in HALF DISME and M in AMERICA, as seen on most specimens from the earliest run struck with medal turn reverse orientation."
Heritage believes that the coin, while certainly very special and deserving of a Specimen designation, is not, nor could it be, the first 1792 half disme struck. The reverse has faint but clearly visible die cracks. Earlier die state examples are known without the die cracks, proving that this example is a later die state and was among the final examples produced in July 1792. However, given its obvious specimen status, it might well have been the very first United States coin actually released by the State Department, perhaps a special gift to a friend of the U.S. or even to George Washington himself.