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Early Half Dimes

flowing hair half dimedraped bust half dimecapped bust half dime

Also referred to as half disme, Early Half Dimes are five cent U.S. coins made of silver. They were first made in 1792, a year earlier than when the first United States Mint opened for business. Still, there were considered official coins of the country.

Early Half Dimes were rumored to be made from silverware. Due to President George Washington’s eagerness for the U.S. to have its own coins, the early patterns were believed to be made from his own silverware.

The Early Half Dime that was minted at the Philadelphia Mint does not have a mint mark.

Several Types of Early Have Dimes

1792 Half Disme

Designed by Robert Birch and Joseph Wright, the 1792 Flowing Hair Half Disme is one of the most historical coins in the United States. There are about 1500 of them that were made, many of which made into circulation.

Around 250 are known to exist today.

This type of Early Half Dimes was only minted in 1792, with Martha Washington rumored to have been the model. This is why it is also known as the Martha Washington Half Disme.

Flowing Hair (1794-1795)

Minted between the years 1794 and 1795, the Flowing Hair Half Dime is the first official silver coin that the Philadelphia Mint produced. For this reason, it has a significant place in the history of the United States.

It was designed by Robert Scot and features a reeded edge or commonly known as milled edge.

Among the Early Half Dimes, the flowing hair design had a short lifespan because it was not widely accepted and was highly criticized.

Lady Liberty’s hair was called a ‘fright wig,’ making her less than ladylike. The eagle, on the other hand, was considered too ‘scrawny.’

Draped Bust, Small Eagle (1796-1797)

Designed using a sketch made by the artist Gilbert Stuart, John Eckstein and Robert Scot engraved the die that was used to produce the coins. It was minted from 1796 to 1797 and still featured Lady Liberty and the Eagle on opposite sides but with the addition of the 15 stars that represented the 15 states.

A 16th star was added in the later part of 1797 but was reduced to 13 stars for the last design variety when they realized that they can’t add a star for each time a state was added.

Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle (1800-1805)

Minted between 1800 and 1805, the Draped Bust Half Dime featured the Heraldic Eagle that was designed after the Great Seal of the United States. This gave the ‘scrawny’ eagle a facelift.

Among the Early Half Dimes, the draped bust coins were weakly struck.

Between 1805 and 1829, no half dimes were made. It was only in 1802 when 3,060 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle coins were minted.

Capped Bust (1829-1837)

Adapting the design of John Reich, Willaim Kneass designed the Capped Bust Half Dime. It was the first half dime to indicate the denomination 5 C on the coin. This gave birth to the term half dime in reference to a 5 cent coin instead of the earlier term used half disme.

If you want to collect Early Half Dimes, the best to collect as a type set is the capped bust.

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