1792 half disme 'specimen' up 6.6% at Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions' January 9-14 US Coin FUN Signature Auction has been highlighted by the sale of the only known specimen-grade example of the 1792 half disme.

1792 half disme Starr collection
There is an ongoing debate over whether this was actually the first example ever struck

The half disme, which was the first circulating American coin struck under the Mint Act of April 1792, sold for $1.4m in Orlando. It achieved a 6.6% increase on its last sale price of $1.3m, which was also seen at Heritage Auctions in 2006.

As the auction house states: "The ownership of a 1792 half disme, regardless of grade, clearly indicates that the numismatist is a serious student of American coinage." The Floyd Starr example at auction has been graded Specimen MS67 by PCGS, making it one of the finest pieces known to collectors, exceeded only by an MS68 example.

Exact numbers are not known, but it is believed that approximately 2,000-3,000 half disme were originally produced. The Starr example is believed to have been a very early strike (if not the first), due to softly struck letters on the reverse that demonstrate the fledgling nation's experimentation with coinage.

1803 Draped Bust dollar
The 1803 Draped Bust dollar is actually rarer than its more famous counterpart, the 1804 Bowed Liberty dollar

The second highest bids of the sale were seen by a PR66 graded example of the 1803 dollar or novodel, which sold for $851,875. One of just four surviving examples, the coin was unknown before 1876 and is actually twice as rare as the famous 1804 dollar.

Also featuring in the sale was the Walter Freeman Collection of Three Cent Silvers, which was topped by an attractive 1855 example.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a fantastic selection of rare coins for sale, including a previously unrecorded example of the 1831 William IV proof crown - a magnificent transitional piece from legendary engraver William Wyon, which shows both varieties of the crown.

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