The D. Brent Pogue Collection

Gem Mint State 1792 Half Disme

Lot 1001
Gem Mint State 1792 Half Disme

The First Federal Silver Coin
An American Classic
High Condition Census

Play Video

1792 Half Disme. LM-1. Rarity-4. MS-64 (PCGS).
To own any 1792 half disme is a nice accomplishment, and to own one in Mint State is something that relatively few numismatists have ever done, never mind Gem Mint State as here. The D. Brent Pogue coin is a front row center example. The cataloger of this coin for Heritage in 2008 stated, “This coin was likely one of those presentation coins from President Washington as it has been carefully and meticulously maintained. The silver-gray surfaces offer lovely underlying luster and deep, mottled violet, golden, and russet toning.” The writer went on to describe some minor flaws and other characteristics and then concluded with, “The overall indelible impression that this memorable coin creates is one of originality, extreme quality, and historical significance and rarity—qualities too seldom offered in today’s active numismatic marketplace.”

The 1792 silver half disme is the first federally-issued silver coin. As the Mint facility was not ready, on or about July 15 of that year 1,500 coins were struck on a press destined for the Mint but kept in the shop of machinist John Harper. For many years it was numismatic tradition to call this a pattern, and today it is listed as such as Judd-7. This is technically incorrect as they were strictly made to be circulated. Harold P. Newlin in his treatise on half dimes published in 1883 agreed with this:
"It is, I believe, generally conceded by numismatists, that the first regular coinage of the United States Mint was in 1793—consisting of the copper cent and half cent. This belief would seem to exclude the 1792 half dime, known as the Martha Washington half disme, from the regular series, and for the reason that it is considered a pattern piece, not intended for general circulation and struck before the regular series commenced. Without desiring to place myself in direct opposition to this accepted opinion, I would simply say that having studied the history of the half dime with some degree of care, I can find in it nothing to indicate that it was intended simply for a trial piece.

Washington, in his annual address, November 6, 1792, having said, inter alia, 'there has been a small beginning in the coinage of half dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them,' and it would certainly seem reasonable to accept the words of this gentleman, whose general reputation for veracity is, I believe, conceded to be good, and consider the 1792 half dime the 'small beginning' in the said series. Mr. Snowden, in his book [Description of the Coins in the Cabinet of the United States Mint, 1860] expresses his opinion thus: 'We consider that the piece was intended for general circulation.' ”

Provenance: Madison Collection; Heritage’s FUN Convention Sale, January 2008, lot 2741.

Rarities Auction Accompanying the D. Brent Pogue Collection

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will be hosting an exclusive Rarities Auction, held in conjunction with The D. Brent Pogue Collection. We will be accepting limited consignments of United States and world coins and paper money, featured in a spectacular catalog reserved for the rarest of the rare. Special terms will apply. If you are interested in participating in this unique opportunity, please call 949-748-4849 or email us at [email protected].

Alternatively, you can fill out our online consignment form. Click here to view the form.