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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.

1828 US CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT  VF
1828 US CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT VF
$28.05
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT CHOICE XF AU NO RESERVE 7 DAY AUCTION
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT CHOICE XF AU NO RESERVE 7 DAY AUCTION
$47.50
1855 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT CHOICE AU+++ NO RESERVE 7 DAY AUCTION
1855 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT CHOICE AU+++ NO RESERVE 7 DAY AUCTION
$41.01
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent XF  FREE SHIPPING
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent XF FREE SHIPPING
$47.10
1832 Half Cent VG++ NICE COLOR
1832 Half Cent VG++ NICE COLOR
$28.00
1835 Classic Head Half Cent
1835 Classic Head Half Cent
$18.60
SARAWAK HALF CENT 1933 UNCIRCULATED
SARAWAK HALF CENT 1933 UNCIRCULATED
$6.49
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$25.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$28.76
1835 Half Cent Copper Coin Classic Head 1 2 cent Better Grade
1835 Half Cent Copper Coin Classic Head 1 2 cent Better Grade
$26.00
1826 Classic Head Half Cent Full Liberty Full Date Rims Good Detail 99 Start
1826 Classic Head Half Cent Full Liberty Full Date Rims Good Detail 99 Start
$23.60
Half Cent 1828 with 13 stars
Half Cent 1828 with 13 stars
$10.50
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Coin 1 2c
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Coin 1 2c
$26.00
1851 Braided Half Cent Extra Fine Details
1851 Braided Half Cent Extra Fine Details
$36.10
1804 Draped Bust half Cent Holed Plain 4 no stems
1804 Draped Bust half Cent Holed Plain 4 no stems
$28.00
1809 6 C 5 Classic Head Half Cent AU 58 BN NGC
1809 6 C 5 Classic Head Half Cent AU 58 BN NGC
$213.50
1833 Half Cent Extra Fine
1833 Half Cent Extra Fine
$69.11
1854 Half Cent Extra Fine
1854 Half Cent Extra Fine
$44.62
1809 C 6 VG CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
1809 C 6 VG CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
$13.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Fine Details
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Fine Details
$15.50
1833 WITH LIBERTY HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1833 WITH LIBERTY HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$30.95
1853 R B ULTRA HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1853 R B ULTRA HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$150.50
1809 Classic Head Half Cent
1809 Classic Head Half Cent
$127.50
coinsu s coins US Coins 1826 Classic Head Half Cent LOOK
coinsu s coins US Coins 1826 Classic Head Half Cent LOOK
$17.50
1833 Classic Head Half Cent
1833 Classic Head Half Cent
$10.17
Nice 1854 Braided Hair Half Cent
Nice 1854 Braided Hair Half Cent
$55.00
1804 SPIKED CHIN HALF CENT VF DETAIL
1804 SPIKED CHIN HALF CENT VF DETAIL
$68.77
1832 Half Cent Classic Head Sharp Strike Definition  Free Shipping
1832 Half Cent Classic Head Sharp Strike Definition Free Shipping
$127.50
Beautiful 1856 Braided Hair Half Cent H1C You Grade It B8
Beautiful 1856 Braided Hair Half Cent H1C You Grade It B8
$24.05
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$12.84

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