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Half Disme at ANA Show
By Numismatic News
July 12, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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An example of the 1792 half disme and the appointment document naming David Rittenhouse first director of the U.S. Mint will be exhibited together for the first time Aug. 13-17 at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont.

“This 1792 half disme is important not only because it represents the first coinage of the United States and was directly authorized by George Washington himself, perhaps even being made from Martha’s silverware, but also due to the fact that it actually belonged to David Rittenhouse, the first director of the United States Mint. That means that this particular coin was held by Thomas Jefferson, David Rittenhouse and perhaps even George Washington – what an amazing provenance!” said Doug Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum.

The half disme and document are being loaned by an anonymous collector.

He is also lending a silver candlestick formerly owned by Martha Washington.

“It’s a piece of George and Martha’s silverware that didn’t get melted to produce the half dismes,” joked the lender in a reference to the theories that the Washingtons personally provided silverware for the metal to strike the first coins authorized by the President in July 1792.

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These will also be exhibited next year at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

The half disme is graded MS-68 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.

Dated April 14, 1792, the document appointing astronomer, clock maker, inventor and mathematician Rittenhouse as the first Mint Director was signed by President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was in charge of the Mint.

It reads:

“George Washington, President of the United States of America
“To all who shall see these Presents – Greeting
“Know Ye, That reposing special Trust and Confidence in the Integrity and Abilities of David Rittenhouse of Pennsylvania, I have nominated and by and with Advice and Consent of the Senate do appoint him Director of the Mint of the said United States, and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfill the duties of that Office according to law, and to have and to hold the said Office with all the Powers, Privileges, and emoluments to the same of right appertaining during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being.
“In Testimony whereof I have caused these letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Given under my Hand, at the City of Philadelphia, the fourteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the Sixteenth.
“Go Washington
“By the President
“Th Jefferson”

The Chicago ANA convention will see the first public appearance in the Midwest of the 1921 Roman Finish proof Saint-Gaudens double eagle. It is graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation as PF64+ CAC.

No proof was known for the date until 2000 when a coin formerly belonging to Raymond T. Baker was authenticated. Baker was Mint director in 1921.

A second proof example in much better condition was discovered in 2006 and was displayed that year at the Boston ANA World’s Fair of Money. It now will be exhibited at the ANA Chicago convention by the same anonymous lender.

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