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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.

NGC 1825 Half Cent F 12 Brown
NGC 1825 Half Cent F 12 Brown
$54.00
1828 AU53 Half Cent 13 Stars
1828 AU53 Half Cent 13 Stars
$114.59
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent
$47.00
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent
$39.00
1795 HALF Cent LIBERTY CAPPED ANACS GD4 PLAIN EDGE CORRODED
1795 HALF Cent LIBERTY CAPPED ANACS GD4 PLAIN EDGE CORRODED
$81.62
1804 1 2C Plain 4 No StemsDraped Bust Half Cent
1804 1 2C Plain 4 No StemsDraped Bust Half Cent
$36.00
VF35 1807 Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS Graded 2166
VF35 1807 Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS Graded 2166
$107.50
1800 Draped Bust Half Cent VF detail
1800 Draped Bust Half Cent VF detail
$113.50
1837 Half Cent Hard Times Token F VF detail
1837 Half Cent Hard Times Token F VF detail
$56.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent
$31.00
1857 PCGS Half Cent Braided Hair PCGS MS 63 BN  Old Green Holder Very Nice
1857 PCGS Half Cent Braided Hair PCGS MS 63 BN Old Green Holder Very Nice
$345.00
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Gem BU++ Copper  Free Shipping
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Gem BU++ Copper Free Shipping
$95.00
1834 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL  GREAT SURFACES NICE COIN D034
1834 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL GREAT SURFACES NICE COIN D034
$32.00
1809 Half Cent VF
1809 Half Cent VF
$8.50
1825 Classic Head Half Cent Almost Uncirculated Condition Mintage of 63000
1825 Classic Head Half Cent Almost Uncirculated Condition Mintage of 63000
$36.00
1833 Classic Head Half Cent Almost Uncirculated Condtion INCREDIBLE GRADE
1833 Classic Head Half Cent Almost Uncirculated Condtion INCREDIBLE GRADE
$21.81
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Fine Details Mintage of 398000
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Fine Details Mintage of 398000
$10.50
1825 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent
1825 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent
$12.50
1833 HALF CENT NO RESERVE AUCTION 7317
1833 HALF CENT NO RESERVE AUCTION 7317
$20.50
1807 Half Cent Draped Bust Tough Early Copper
1807 Half Cent Draped Bust Tough Early Copper
$31.00
1828 Half Cent Classic Head 13 Stars
1828 Half Cent Classic Head 13 Stars
$41.00
1835 Half Cent Classic Head
1835 Half Cent Classic Head
$29.00
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair
$39.00
1856 Half Cent Braided Hair
1856 Half Cent Braided Hair
$62.00
STUNNING 1851 HALF CENT ICG AU 58 ALMOST UNCIRCULATED
STUNNING 1851 HALF CENT ICG AU 58 ALMOST UNCIRCULATED
$89.00
1826 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1826 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$22.63
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PLAIN 4 NO STEMS ICG VF 35
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PLAIN 4 NO STEMS ICG VF 35
$84.00
1832 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL  GREAT SURFACES NICE COIN D035
1832 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL GREAT SURFACES NICE COIN D035
$26.00
1851 Half Cent Braided Hair BU++ Copper
1851 Half Cent Braided Hair BU++ Copper
$49.00
1809 Half Cent Classic Head Choice AU Early Copper
1809 Half Cent Classic Head Choice AU Early Copper
$57.00

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NGC 1825 Half Cent F 12 Brown,  1828 AU53 Half Cent 13 Stars,  1849 Braided Hair Half Cent,  1855 Braided Hair Half Cent,  1795 HALF Cent LIBERTY CAPPED ANACS GD4 PLAIN EDGE CORRODED,  1804 1 2C Plain 4 No StemsDraped Bust Half Cent,  VF35 1807 Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS Graded 2166,  1800 Draped Bust Half Cent VF detail,  1837 Half Cent Hard Times Token F VF detail,  1851 Braided Hair Half Cent,  1857 PCGS Half Cent Braided Hair PCGS MS 63 BN Old Green Holder Very Nice,  1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Gem BU++ Copper Free Shipping,  1834 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL GREAT SURFACES NICE COIN D034,  1807 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL NICE SURFACES DRAPED BUST D036,  1809 Half Cent VF,  US 1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PLAIN 4 NO STEMS YOU GRADE KM35 HCRM02,  1825 Classic Head Half Cent Almost Uncirculated Condition Mintage of 63000,  1833 Classic Head Half Cent Almost Uncirculated Condtion INCREDIBLE GRADE,  1835 Classic Head Half Cent Fine Details Mintage of 398000,  1825 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent,  1833 HALF CENT NO RESERVE AUCTION 7317,  1807 Half Cent Draped Bust Tough Early Copper,  1828 Half Cent Classic Head 13 Stars,  1835 Half Cent Classic Head,  1853 Half Cent Braided Hair,  1856 Half Cent Braided Hair,  STUNNING 1851 HALF CENT ICG AU 58 ALMOST UNCIRCULATED,  1826 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping,  1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PLAIN 4 NO STEMS ICG VF 35,  1832 US HALF CENT LOTS OF DETAIL GREAT SURFACES NICE COIN D035,  

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