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Early Americana: Finest example of USA's first official coin sold for record price
Brian Hendelson and Rittenhouse Half Disme.

BRIDGEWATER, NJ.- The finest known example of the first official United States coin, a 1792 silver Half Disme (an early spelling of dime), has been sold for a record $1,985,000. About the size of a modern dime, it once was in the possession of then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and personally owned by the first United States Mint Director David Rittenhouse.

“The Rittenhouse 1792 Half Disme is a small coin with huge historical significance,” said Brian Hendelson, President of Classic Coin Company of Bridgewater, New Jersey, who sold the coin after owning and exhibiting it for five years. “The new owner wants to remain anonymous while he’s assembling an amazing collection of the most famous and wonderful United States rare coins that he calls The Dazzling Rarities Collection.”

The rainbow-toned coin, graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Mint State 68 on a 1 to 70 scale, was recently a featured exhibit at the American Numismatic Association 2018 Philadelphia World’s Fair of Money®. It was also loaned by Hendelson for display in 2014 and 2015 at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia home.

The nearly $2 million transaction is the highest price ever paid for any U.S. Half Dime, a five-cent denomination struck between 1792 and 1873. The first year of their production, the denomination was spelled DISME on the back of the coins.

The 1,500 Half Dismes produced in July 1792 in Philadelphia were the first coins struck under authority of the 1788 United States Constitution and the first struck by authority of Congress under the April 1792 Mint Act.

In the narrative text for the recent Philadelphia exhibit, American Numismatic Association Money Museum Curator Doug Mudd wrote: “On July 13, 1792, the first U.S. Mint coins were struck for distribution at the request of President George Washington in a basement close to the site for the new Mint…. The coins were distributed by (Thomas) Jefferson to foreign dignitaries, members of the government and others — a calling card for the establishment of the U.S. Mint and an announcement of the new American Republic.”

This particular coin remained with Mint Director Rittenhouse and then his descendants from 1792 to 1919.

The previous record price for a U.S. Half Dime was $1.5 million for this same coin in 2007.

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