An unusual 1792 pattern half disme will be offered at Heritage’s March 3 to 6 American Numismatic Association National Money Show auction in Dallas.
The issue was the first struck under the Mint Act of 1792 under the approval of President George Washington. Washington mentioned the production of the coins in his Nov. 6, 1792, State of the Union Address and while the mintage was intended to be a circulating issue, 1792 half dismes are often considered patterns.
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Notes the Heritage catalog: “The coins were actually struck in the cellar facility of Philadelphia sawmaker John Harper because the First United States Mint was not ready for operations in its own building at that time. On the 13th, Jefferson recorded the following statement in his personal account book, ‘Recd. from the mint 1,500 half dismes of the new coinage.’ “
Heritage’s auction catalog cites researcher Pete Smith (who, along with Len Augsburger and Joel Orosz, is working on a book on the coins of 1792) as identifying the coin in the ANA sale as decades earlier being sold as lot 300 of the Commodore Eaton Collection. When the collection was sold by Henry Chapman in May 1929, this 1792 half disme was described as follows: “Good but obverse has three blisters, one before head, one on cheek and behind it. Otherwise good.” The distinctive description and the coin’s unique look allowed Smith to match the 1929 catalog entry to this specific coin.
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Today these “blisters” are referred to as laminations, a planchet error that it the result of an improperly prepared planchet.
It is graded Very Fine 25 by Professional Coin Grading Service, which records on the holder that it is a “Laminated Planchet Obv. Mint Error.”
As Heritage notes, “This coin possesses unparalleled historic interest and an overall attractive presentation, despite the noted surface flaws.” Heritage records the coin’s last sale as the Steve Ivy Numismatic Auctions 1982 Summer ANA convention, where it realized $1,900.
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