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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

1792 Half Dime and 1793 Flowing Hair Cent

Who was first?  Sometimes that's a hard question to answer.  Hi, I'm Bill the Mint Buffalo, and I love history.  But sometimes it's not as simple as I'd like.

See, I was wondering:  what was the first coin the United States Mint ever made?  I found out there were really FOUR first coins!

  • 1792 dime
  • 1792 half dime
  • 1793 cent
  • 1793 half cent

Now, when you look at the dates, you might say, "The dime and half dime had to be first because they have earlier dates."  But then you find out that the first Mint building didn't open until 1793!  Huh???

The 1792 coins were made by Mint workers, and Congress told them to make the coins, so they were official United States Mint coins.  But they were not minted on land that was owned by the Mint.  That means that the 1793 coins were the first ones made on Mint property.  See what I mean about complicated?  But fun!

By the way, the Mint was only allowed to make coins out of gold, silver, and copper.  That's why there was a half dime instead of a nickel:  they didn't use nickel to make coins!  And that's why those one-cent coins were as big as today's half dollars:  they had to make them out of enough copper to be worth a whole cent!

Anyway, those 1793 copper cents and half cents were first struck in March.  That's why I picked these coins for March...and all four are genuine "firsts"!

Bill, the Mint Buffalo

1792 half dime
Obverse/Reverse:  The dime and the smaller half dime both had the same "flowing hair" Lady Liberty, but many people thought the hairstyle was rather wild.

1793 cent
Obverse/Reverse:  The first cents and half cents used the same chain design, standing for the unity among the states.

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