From a Pioneer's Pocket

22nd November 2018

A coin that could well have graced the pocket of George Washington has sold at auction in the UK for £15,000, the day before the official US Thanksgiving holiday.

The silver half dime had a value of five cents at the time and is believed by some to have been the first coin minted under the Coinage Act of 1792, which first established the dollar as the nation’s unit of currency and created the United States Mint. This particular design, by Robert Scot, was minted between 1794 and 1795. It is colloquially known as the ‘Flowing Hair Dime’, owing to the portrait of Liberty depicted on one side, similar to that seen on other coins of the same period but without the Phrygian cap and pole. Fewer than 80,000 examples of the coin were minted in 1795, although the 1794 version is much rarer with only 7,765 examples. Its fine condition saw keen buyers chase it well over its £1,400-1,600 estimate to a hammer price of £12,000 (£15,000 including buyer’s premium).

With anything from the earliest years of American independence currently receiving attention from keen collectors, late 18th century artefacts of this type are highly desirable on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is not the first time that Salisbury auctioneer’s, Woolley and Wallis, have had success with rare American coins; a half cent from 1796 sold in 2013 for a hammer price of £185,000. In extremely fine condition, and with only 1390 examples minted, it was an exceptional coin.

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