US Coins

Collector finds rare 1792 half disme in junk box

A 1792 Flowing Hair half disme was acquired from a dealer’s junk box for less than $1 by a collector in the state of Washington looking through world silver coins.

Images courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service.

A junk box find purchased for less than $1 by an unidentified Washington collector searching for silver world coins is now authenticated and graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as a genuine 1792 half disme.

PCGS graded the coin before encapsulation as Fair 2, and Certified Acceptance Corp. added a green sticker on the holder for “meeting the standard for strict quality within its grade.”

PCGS has graded and encapsulated 97 submissions, with Numismatic Guaranty Corp. certifying 41 submissions.

The PCGS Price Guide values the find at $18,500, but GreatCollections President Ian Russell believes the coin will likely realize more than $25,000 when it is offered for sale in his firm’s June 13 online sale, to which the coin is consigned.

The coin was consigned to auction by Greg Marcus from Front Range Coin & Currency Ltd. in Longmont, Colorado, who purchased the coin from the collector who found it.

Marcus said in early January he was surfing a social media site on which the 1792 half disme was illustrated by the Washington collector with multiple photos and seeking opinions on what he might have.

Marcus said he reached out to the collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, after informing him he likely had a genuine 1792 half disme based on the images on his social media post. Marcus said the collector took the coin to a local dealer in Washington state and had the coin submitted to PCGS for authentication and grading.

Once the collector received his coin back from PCGS, he was contacted by Marcus about his interest in selling the coin in a private transaction. Marcus said he and the collector agreed on an undisclosed purchase price and Marcus traveled to Washington to take possession of the coin.

Marcus said he subsequently sent the coin to CAC for their review.

Marcus said he was amazed at the condition of the coin, which, during the 200+ years since its being struck at the Philadelphia Mint, had moved in circulation to more than 3,000 miles away.

Most known examples are heavily worn, damaged, bent, scratched or otherwise mishandled, but Marcus says the recent find only exhibits extensive wear without additional damage.

Marcus said the coin was likely stored within the pages of a 19th century newspaper or book, since ink has transferred to the coin’s obverse, where lettering appears reversed on Liberty’s face.

The record price realized for a 1792 Flowing Hair half disme is $1,145,625 for a PCGS Mint State 68 coin sold in a Jan. 1, 2013, auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

History

The 1792 silver half disme was the first official coin produced by the United States at the newly opened Philadelphia Mint.

According to PCGS Coin Facts, “Some experts consider the 1792 half disme to be a pattern issue; others believe it to be a regular issue. In favor of regular issue status is the fact that so many were made (1500+) and virtually all were placed into circulation. All other 1792 coins are true patterns, struck in extremely limited quantities. PCGS considers them regular issue coins. [President] George Washington mentioned the 1792 half dismes in an address to Congress in November 1792, where he noted that some had already been made. ‘Disme’ is a French word derived from the Latin word ‘decimus’ (or tenth). ‘Disme’ appeared only on the 1792 half disme and the 1792 disme patterns (copper and silver), but never on another U.S. coin.”

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