Ron Guth: The 1792 half disme was the first official coin produced by the United States, but it was not the first coin produced at the U.S. Mint (that distinction belongs to 1793 half cents and cents). Legend has it that George Washington provided the silver for the coinage of 1792 half dismes by donating his personal silver set, but this has been debunked in recent years. Another legend is that the portrait on the front of the coin is of Martha Washington, a belief that has never been confirmed or disclaimed. True or not, these legends add to the lore of this classic, early American coin.
Some experts consider the 1792 half disme to be a pattern issue; others believe it to be a regular issue. In favor of regular issue status is the fact that so many were made (1500+) and virtually all were placed into circulation. All other 1792 coins are true patterns, struck in extremely limited quantities. PCGS considers them regular issue coins.
George Washington mentioned the 1792 half dismes in an address to Congress in November 1792, where he noted that some had already been made.
"Disme" is a French word derived from the Latin word "decimus" (or tenth). "Disme" appeared only on the 1792 half disme and the 1792 ddisme patterns (copper and silver) but never on another U.S. coin, and the word "Dime" did not appear until 1837 on the Half Dimes and Dimes.