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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.

1826 Half Cent Classic Head Very Sharp Early Copper Choice BU++  Free S H
1826 Half Cent Classic Head Very Sharp Early Copper Choice BU++ Free S H
$319.00
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
$9.52
1868 three cent coin 1853 half cent 1883 liberty nickle1831 braided hair cent
1868 three cent coin 1853 half cent 1883 liberty nickle1831 braided hair cent
$42.11
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Very Nice Choice BU++ Early Copper  Free S H
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Very Nice Choice BU++ Early Copper Free S H
$117.50
 1828 Half Cent 13 Stars Classic Head
1828 Half Cent 13 Stars Classic Head
$26.77
US Half cent Large Cent 2 Cent 3 Cent Trimes Lot of 10 coins
US Half cent Large Cent 2 Cent 3 Cent Trimes Lot of 10 coins
$31.03
1854 half cent
1854 half cent
$28.55
1828 half cent 12 stars
1828 half cent 12 stars
$32.00
Gorgeous High Quality Circulated 1809 United States Classic Head Half Cent Coin
Gorgeous High Quality Circulated 1809 United States Classic Head Half Cent Coin
$41.88
1794 Half Cent
1794 Half Cent
$203.50
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT ABOUT UNCIRCULATED+
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT ABOUT UNCIRCULATED+
$31.00
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT AU UNC SCARCE
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT AU UNC SCARCE
$102.50
1808 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT G VG
1808 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT G VG
$12.50
1804 half cent
1804 half cent
$21.50
1856 1 2C BN Braided Hair Half Cent Fine Details Reverse Scratches
1856 1 2C BN Braided Hair Half Cent Fine Details Reverse Scratches
$37.00
1826 1 2C Classic Head Half Cent Very Fine Details
1826 1 2C Classic Head Half Cent Very Fine Details
$29.00
1832 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent Very Good Details
1832 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent Very Good Details
$8.50
1833 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent Very Fine Details
1833 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent Very Fine Details
$22.50
1853 1 2C Braided Hair Half Cent Extra Fine Details
1853 1 2C Braided Hair Half Cent Extra Fine Details
$41.41
1828 1 2C 13 Stars RB Classic Head Half Cent About Uncirculated Details
1828 1 2C 13 Stars RB Classic Head Half Cent About Uncirculated Details
$39.00
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
$29.00
1832 BN Classic Head Half Cent VF on Copper  Nice Dirty Rare One
1832 BN Classic Head Half Cent VF on Copper Nice Dirty Rare One
$34.33
1855 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Gem BU++ Copper  Free Shipping
1855 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Gem BU++ Copper Free Shipping
$92.00
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent XF AU RAINBOW TONED HC8221
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent XF AU RAINBOW TONED HC8221
$23.73
1810 Half Cent And 1858 Flying Eagle Cent No Reserve
1810 Half Cent And 1858 Flying Eagle Cent No Reserve
$14.50
1851 HALF CENT ICG AU 55 GRADED BEAUTIFUL COIN
1851 HALF CENT ICG AU 55 GRADED BEAUTIFUL COIN
$87.51
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent Good +
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent Good +
$22.50
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Good Details
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Good Details
$10.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Very Good
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Very Good
$12.50
1834 Classic Head Half Cent Very Fine Details
1834 Classic Head Half Cent Very Fine Details
$17.05

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