During the colonial era, the economic system in the American colonies was tied into the English system of pounds, shillings and pence. A less cumbersome method of coinage, the decimal system, had long been championed by Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and financier Robert Morris. After several unsuccessful attempts to pass authorizing legislation, their plans finally came to fruition with the Mint Act of April 2, 1792. Both the establishment of a mint and the decimal system were not only seen as practical for the new nation but symbolic of a break from England as well.
The first half dimes to be struck in the United States were the famous half dismes of 1792. These coins were produced before an actual mint building had been erected, but they were made by official Mint personnel. A total of 1500 were issued from dies which are thought to have been designed and engraved by British medalist William Russell Birch. The striking process was overseen by Adam Eckfeldt, a Mi.... (Expand Text)