The American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money
Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., once again has a 1792 silver half
disme in its numismatic collection.
Steven L. Contursi, president of Rare Coin Wholesalers, Irvine,
Calif., donated a specimen of the rarity in late December 2011.
Contursi said Jan. 26 that when he donated his coin he was unaware
that the example of the famed rarity in the ANA’s collection was
missing. He said he learned the ANA’s 1792 half disme was among a
group of missing coins when ANA officials disclosed the fact on Jan. 19.
Contursi said he purchased from a client in September 2008 the
coin he donated to the ANA and paid $220,000 for it. At the time of
purchase it resided in a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. holder bearing a
grade of About Uncirculated 58. He noted it was in the same holder
when he gave it to the ANA.
ANA Director of Communications RyAnne Scott said Jan. 26 that the
newly donated 1792 half disme has been removed from its holder and
will be sent to NGC for reslabbing in a holder with a special ANA label.
ANA officials have announced that it will be on display at the
organization’s National Money Show May 10 to 12 in Denver.
Contursi said he donated his coin to the ANA unrestricted, “with
no strings attached,” explaining that it was his way of “giving back”
to an association that he has “always believed in.”
During his 37-year career as a coin dealer Contursi has
specialized in helping both collectors and other dealers acquire high
quality, historically significant coins and has owned as a part of his
personal collection some of the United States’ greatest rarities. They
include the unique EB on Breast 1787 Brasher doubloon and a 1794
Flowing Hair dollar, believed by researchers to be the first silver
dollar coin struck by the United States Mint. During his ownership he
loaned both of the coins to ANA for exhibit in its museum as well as
for special exhibits at national coin shows.
Contursi said he has bought and sold a number of examples of the
1792 half disme during his career, ranging from the finest known,
graded Mint State 68, to circulated specimens. In fact, he currently
has one that grades MS-65 in his collection.
Approximately 1,500 half dismes were struck in July 1792. They
were the first coins struck to conform to the specifications required
in the Act of April 2,1792, the original statute that established the
United States Mint and regulated U.S. coinage. Modern researchers
estimate that approximately 275 examples (in all conditions) of 1792
silver half dismes survive today.
The 1792 half dime missing from the ANA museum was donated by an
anonymous benefactor in 1978 and at that time was graded Extremely
Fine. It was featured in a special exhibit during the ANA’s centennial
convention in Chicago in 1991 and again in 2005 in a special exhibit
at the ANA’s museum in Colorado Springs, Colo. ■