Two of the most important, related items of early American numismatics -- the document signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson appointing David Rittenhouse as the first Director of the United States Mint and Rittenhouse's own superb condition 1792 half disme -- will be publicly displayed together for the first time.
The Rittenhouse half disme and appointment document are being loaned to the ANA for the exhibit by an anonymous collector who also is loaning one of the two known 1921 Roman Finish proof Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles for the Museum Showcase. He's also providing a silver candlestick formerly owned by Martha Washington.
The half disme is graded PCGS MS68 and the 1921 proof $20 gold piece is NGC Roman Finish PF64+ CAC.
Slightly smaller than a modern dime and weighing less than one-23rd of an ounce (20.8 grains), the half disme (an early spelling of the word dime) was struck in the basement of a Philadelphia saw-maker's shop in July 1792. The nearby Mint was not yet operational. The silver half dismes were the first coins authorized by President Washington under the Mint Act of 1792.
The obverse depicts the portrait of a symbolic female representation of Liberty, the legend, LIB. (liberty) PAR. (parent) OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY, and the year, 1792. The reverse has the denomination, HALF DISME, and the words, UNI (united) STATES OF AMERICA surrounding an eagle.
The handwritten document dated April 14, 1792, appointing astronomer, clock maker, inventor and mathematician Rittenhouse as the first Mint Director was signed by President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.