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.

1857 Half Cent Key Date Beauty Sharp Last Year IssueCHOICE UNC DETAIL
1857 Half Cent Key Date Beauty Sharp Last Year IssueCHOICE UNC DETAIL
$53.99
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent nice obsolete type coin Early historical C 1
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent nice obsolete type coin Early historical C 1
$24.50
1828 HALF CENT 12 STARS
1828 HALF CENT 12 STARS
$26.55
Nice Original Brown High Grade 1849 Half Cent
Nice Original Brown High Grade 1849 Half Cent
$137.50
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent crosslet 4 stems
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent crosslet 4 stems
$31.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent plain 4 stemless
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent plain 4 stemless
$37.00
1933 H Sarawak 1 2 Half Cent Coin NGC MS 64 RB Graded RARE BU UNC
1933 H Sarawak 1 2 Half Cent Coin NGC MS 64 RB Graded RARE BU UNC
$70.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars
$20.50
1806 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1806 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$102.50
1828 13 STARS MS++++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1828 13 STARS MS++++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$137.50
1832 GEM HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1832 GEM HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$76.00
1834 MS+++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1834 MS+++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$56.00
1835 MS++++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1835 MS++++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$91.90
1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF 20 PCGS
1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF 20 PCGS
$58.98
1797 Liberty Cap Half Cent early copper rough shape but visible date
1797 Liberty Cap Half Cent early copper rough shape but visible date
$68.00
COA 1752 Rare Half Cent New York Penny Dutch Colonial VOC Holland 1 2 Penny Copp
COA 1752 Rare Half Cent New York Penny Dutch Colonial VOC Holland 1 2 Penny Copp
$20.50
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$22.78
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
$71.00
1809 Classic Head Half Cent
1809 Classic Head Half Cent
$30.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$21.50
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$36.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$38.76
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Rare Only 56500 Minted  Nice 1430
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Rare Only 56500 Minted Nice 1430
$33.00
NOVA SCOTIA 1861 HALF CENT QUEEN VICTORIA CANADIAN COPPER COIN HIGH GRADE
NOVA SCOTIA 1861 HALF CENT QUEEN VICTORIA CANADIAN COPPER COIN HIGH GRADE
$24.61
1833 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
1833 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
$49.00
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT
$44.07
1808 US HALF CENT COIN
1808 US HALF CENT COIN
$56.00
Three 1809 US HALF CENT COINS 3 coin lot
Three 1809 US HALF CENT COINS 3 coin lot
$41.00
1825 US HALF CENT COIN
1825 US HALF CENT COIN
$31.01
1826 US HALF CENT COIN
1826 US HALF CENT COIN
$35.01

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




1857 Half Cent Key Date Beauty Sharp Last Year IssueCHOICE UNC DETAIL,  1855 Braided Hair Half Cent nice obsolete type coin Early historical C 1,  1828 HALF CENT 12 STARS,  Nice Original Brown High Grade 1849 Half Cent,  rare 1958 British Caribbean Territories bronze half cent brilliant UNC coin,  1804 Draped Bust Half Cent crosslet 4 stems,  1804 Draped Bust Half Cent plain 4 stemless,  1933 H Sarawak 1 2 Half Cent Coin NGC MS 64 RB Graded RARE BU UNC,  1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars,  1806 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION,  1828 13 STARS MS++++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION,  1832 GEM HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION,  1834 MS+++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION,  1835 MS++++ HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION,  1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF 20 PCGS,  1797 Liberty Cap Half Cent early copper rough shape but visible date,  COA 1752 Rare Half Cent New York Penny Dutch Colonial VOC Holland 1 2 Penny Copp,  1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping,  1804 Draped Bust Half Cent,  1809 Classic Head Half Cent,  1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping,  1828 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping,  1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping,  1855 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Rare Only 56500 Minted Nice 1430,  NOVA SCOTIA 1861 HALF CENT QUEEN VICTORIA CANADIAN COPPER COIN HIGH GRADE,  1833 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT,  1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT,  1804 US HALF CENT COIN,  1808 US HALF CENT COIN,  Three 1809 US HALF CENT COINS 3 coin lot,  

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