Half Cent Coin History

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The half cent was among the first coin strikes authorized by the U.S. Congress on April 2, 1792. Designed by Adam Eckfeldt and first released in 1793, it was minted at the Philadelphia Mint periodically until 1857. Its metal composition was of copper and weighed of 6.74 grams. It is the smallest-denomination coin ever minted in the United States. Its small buying power and large size 22mm, led to its unpopularity at that time in history. Production of the Half Cent discontinued production on February 21, 1857.

Though it may appear strange nowadays, the U.S. government once issued a coin worth less than one cent: the half cent. The copper Half Cent started in production on April 2, 1792. During its 64-years in circulation the Government stuck five basic design types of the tiny (0.93-in) coin. The Philadelphia Mint was the choice of location for striking the first batch of Half Cent coins. A mint Mark was not forged on the coins. The Half Cent's designers and engravers are amongst the most renowned in U.S. Mint history: Adam Eckfeldt, Robert Scot, John Gardner, Gilbert Stuart, John Reich and Christian Gobrecht. Designs for the Half Cent were also translated for use other coin denominations throughout the years. Below is a brief summary of the Half Cent coinage designs.

Liberty Cap

The 1793 Liberty Cap was the first half cent struck and as a result, is a highly coveted coin for today's coin collectors. The obverse design, is believed to be based on sketches made by Mint Director David Rittenhouse, although it is not known for certain who actually finalized the design and the dies for the first Half Cents strike. The obverse features a portrait of “Liberty” facing left. Her hair is flowing behind her, and ascending from the back of her head is a pole that supports a liberty cap. The reverse features a laurel wreath of leaves and berries which circle the value, “HALF CENT”. In 1794 the “Liberty Cap” half cent saw its first design change after only one year of circulation. This design, “Liberty” is facing to the right. While there were many different forms of this design type, the most famed change, other than the direction of “Liberty”, is that she now is wearing her liberty cap. There are varieties which do place the cap held upright by a pole. The reverse remained the same as the previous designs, with a wreath circling the value, “HALF CENT”.

Draped Burst

Starting in 1800, the Half Cents design changed with the introduction of the "Draped Bust" form. The obverse featured a larger version of “Liberty” facing right. The reverse was graced with the existing wreath already in use. The laurel wreath is a close copy of that seen on 1797 Cents. It displays 16 leaves on the left branch and 19 on the right. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surrounds the border and the value “HALF CENT” is centered on the coin with the fraction, 1/200 at the coin's lower edge.

Braided Hair

The last design variety in the “Half Cent” series is the “Braided Hair”. The designer, Christian Gobrecht, used the same Braided Hair conception he used on the cent of 1839. A bust of “Liberty”, facing left, graces the obverse. Her hair is braided into a bun. She wears a tiara inscribed with the word "liberty". The reverse side was a re-introduction of that used on the 1809 rendition. The denomination, “HALF CENT”, is bordered by a wreath, tied at the bottom with a bow, and circled by the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”.

Here is a sample of popular U.S. half cent coins selling on eBay right now.

1829 Half Cent Classic Head 5 Day Auction
1829 Half Cent Classic Head 5 Day Auction
$18.50
BEAUTIFUL 1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT ESTATE FRESH
BEAUTIFUL 1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT ESTATE FRESH
$36.00
1794 Liberty Cap Half Cent High Relief About Good
1794 Liberty Cap Half Cent High Relief About Good
$44.44
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent ANACS VF30 Det NR
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent ANACS VF30 Det NR
$76.00
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent ANACS VG10 Det NR
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent ANACS VG10 Det NR
$62.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Choice Circulated
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Choice Circulated
$77.00
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Small 6 Stemless Circulated
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Small 6 Stemless Circulated
$47.00
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Circulated
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Circulated
$41.00
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent Circulated
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent Circulated
$38.00
1804 Crosslet 4 Stems Draped Bust Half Cent Circulated
1804 Crosslet 4 Stems Draped Bust Half Cent Circulated
$34.00
1825 Classic Head Half Cent Circulated
1825 Classic Head Half Cent Circulated
$35.06
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars Choice Circulated
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars Choice Circulated
$38.50
1804 1 2 HALF CENT DRAPED BUST PCGS GENUINE CROSSLET 4 STEMS COIN FREE S
1804 1 2 HALF CENT DRAPED BUST PCGS GENUINE CROSSLET 4 STEMS COIN FREE S
$8.50
1825 1 2 HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS GENUINE VG DETAILS COIN FREE S
1825 1 2 HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS GENUINE VG DETAILS COIN FREE S
$29.99
1832 1 2 HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS GENUINE VF DETAILS COIN FREE S
1832 1 2 HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS GENUINE VF DETAILS COIN FREE S
$22.50
US 1835 CLASSIC HEAD 13 STAR HALF CENT PIECE LARGE COPPER COIN
US 1835 CLASSIC HEAD 13 STAR HALF CENT PIECE LARGE COPPER COIN
$62.00
US 1828 CLASSIC HEAD 13 STAR HALF CENT PIECE LARGE COPPER COIN
US 1828 CLASSIC HEAD 13 STAR HALF CENT PIECE LARGE COPPER COIN
$44.00
1826 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1826 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$51.01
1834 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1834 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$22.60
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$28.76
1829 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1829 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$34.01
1807 Braped Bust Head 1 2 Half Cent Coin NO RESERVE
1807 Braped Bust Head 1 2 Half Cent Coin NO RESERVE
$16.50
1853 Braided Hair Head 1 2 Half Cent Coin NO RESERVE
1853 Braided Hair Head 1 2 Half Cent Coin NO RESERVE
$11.85
1828 Thirteen Stars Classic Head Copper Half Cent
1828 Thirteen Stars Classic Head Copper Half Cent
$53.56
Antique 1788 New England Dug Massachusetts half Cent Colonial Coin Relic
Antique 1788 New England Dug Massachusetts half Cent Colonial Coin Relic
$41.68
1851 Braided Hair Copper Half Cent
1851 Braided Hair Copper Half Cent
$46.00
1855 Braided Hair Copper Half Cent
1855 Braided Hair Copper Half Cent
$42.77
1809 Classic Half Cent Attractive Fine Coin
1809 Classic Half Cent Attractive Fine Coin
$27.00
1807 NICE COIN HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1807 NICE COIN HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$14.49
1835 HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1835 HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$36.00

Use this search tool, find Rare and Certified U.S. Coins:




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