The 1792 half disme (pronounced dime) was an American silver coin with a face value of five cents. Although it is subject to debate as to whether this was intended to be circulating coinage or instead an experimental issue, President George Washington referred to it as "a small beginning" and many of the coins eventually were released into circulation. It is widely (although not universally) considered the first United States coinage struck under authority of the Mint Act of April 1792.
1792 half disme Wikipedia
When speaking to the House of Representatives in November 1792, President Washington mentioned the "want of small coins in circulation" and stated that he had begun work on establishing a U.S. Mint and that some half dismes had been produced already. At this point, most of the personnel had been hired, but the Mint's buildings and machinery were not yet ready. As a result, the half dismes, which had been struck in or around July 1792, were produced using the private facilities of local craftsman John Harper, although under the auspices of official Mint personnel. In his personal log book, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson recorded the receipt of 1,500 specimens on July 13.
Because of President Washington's connection with these early coins, numismatic folklore holds that the portrait on the obverse is that of First Lady Martha Washington and that some of the coins were struck using melted-down silverware from the Washington household. However, there is no solid evidence for either of these assertions.
Although the exact number is not known, it is believed that between 2,000 and 3,500 specimens were produced. Approximately 10% of these survive today; one expert estimated between 250 and 400 half dismes exist, and most appear to have been used in circulation for some time. An about uncirculated (AU55 on the Sheldon coin grading scale) 1792 half disme was auctioned for $138,000 on July 24, 2004. A specimen strike from the Starr collection, graded MS67 by PCGS sold for $1,322,500 on April 26, 2006. The highest numerically graded piece, an NGC MS68, sold for $1,500,000 by private treaty transaction in 2007.
Although nearly all 1792 half dismes were produced in a silver alloy, a unique pattern piece in copper is also known.