Saturday, January 12, 2013

1792 silver nickel sells for $1.41 million

A 1792 silver nickel sells for $1.41 million at an auction by Heritage Auctions in Orlando. The coin is known as The Floyd Starr Example and is thought to have been made from Martha Washington's silverware at George Washington's request. Heritage Auctions said the coins were the very first American coins struck in December 1792 after the Mint Act was passed.

The coin also called as a Half Disme and often referred to as The Floyd Starr Example.

The 1792 half dime (or "half dime") was an American silver coin with a face value of five cents.

Ms. Liberty
half disme

A simple memorandum, in three different versions, provides much of what we know about the 1792 half dismes. Herkowitz and coauthor Joel J. Orosz prepared a detailed article around this document, solved its authorship, and answered questions about the history of this famous coinage issue. Their article, "George Washington and America's 'Small Beginning' in Coinage: The Fabled 1792 Half Dismes," appeared in the 2003 edition of American Journal of Numismatics, second series, published by the American Numismatic Society in 2004.
The text of the final version of the McAllister memo reads:

"Description of Half Dismes coined in 1792"
"On one side = a Head = 1792 = Lib. Par. of Science and Industry --
"On the other side = an Eagle Flying = Half Disme = United States of America --
"In conversation with Mr. Adam Eckfeldt (Apr. 9, 1844) at the Mint, he informed me that the Half Dismes above described, were struck, expressly for Gen. Washington, to the extent of One Hundred Dollars, which sum he deposited in Bullion or Coin, for the purpose. Mr. E. thinks that Gen. W. distributed them as presents. Some were sent to Europe, but the greater number, he believes, were given to friends of Gen. W. in Virginia. No more of them were ever coined. They were never designed as Currency. The Mint was not, at the time, fully ready for being put into operation. The Coining Machinery was in the cellar of Mr. Harper, saw maker, at the corner of Cherry and 6th Sts, at which place these pieces were struck."

"This is a storied and famous coin in American numismatics," said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions.

"Not only is it widely reported that these coins were struck from Martha Washington's silver service, at the behest of George Washington, no less. Some numismatists over the decades have theorized that Mrs. Washington also posed as Ms. Liberty for the engraver. Whether that is really the case, however, is lost to history."