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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.

1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Spiked Chin
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Spiked Chin
$61.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
$70.00
Cull lot 62 coins Indian Head half cent large  2 cents Capped Bust dime
Cull lot 62 coins Indian Head half cent large 2 cents Capped Bust dime
$50.55
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent
$11.05
1806 UNITED STATES DRAPED BUST HALF CENT SMALL 6
1806 UNITED STATES DRAPED BUST HALF CENT SMALL 6
$76.00
1828 1 2c 12 Stars Classic Head Half Cent Penny
1828 1 2c 12 Stars Classic Head Half Cent Penny
$16.49
1806 Half Cent Choice Fine B3 C1 Small 6 No Stems   99 TRUE AUCTION
1806 Half Cent Choice Fine B3 C1 Small 6 No Stems 99 TRUE AUCTION
$34.09
1788 Dug Machins Mills Half Cent 23 88
1788 Dug Machins Mills Half Cent 23 88
$16.50
1832 Classic Head Half Cent  AN EXTREMELY NICE COIN
1832 Classic Head Half Cent AN EXTREMELY NICE COIN
$30.99
1832 Half Cent Classic Head VF Detail
1832 Half Cent Classic Head VF Detail
$24.50
1828 Half Cent Classic Head
1828 Half Cent Classic Head
$10.50
1829 Classic Head Half Cent Coin NAME YOUR PRICE
1829 Classic Head Half Cent Coin NAME YOUR PRICE
$20.49
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust
$13.56
1828 AU BU Classic Head Half Cent Coin NAME YOUR PRICE
1828 AU BU Classic Head Half Cent Coin NAME YOUR PRICE
$23.50
Copper Lot 14 coins Indian Head half cent large cents 2 foreign SEE PICS
Copper Lot 14 coins Indian Head half cent large cents 2 foreign SEE PICS
$18.50
1809 Half Cent
1809 Half Cent
$11.56
High Grade 1851 Braided Hair Half Cent NO RESERVE
High Grade 1851 Braided Hair Half Cent NO RESERVE
$59.00
High Grade 1853 Braided Hair Half Cent NO RESERVE
High Grade 1853 Braided Hair Half Cent NO RESERVE
$47.00
Handsome 1804 Draped Bust Half Cent NO RESERVE
Handsome 1804 Draped Bust Half Cent NO RESERVE
$46.29
1809 Half Cent Choice AU  99 No Reserve TRUE AUCTION
1809 Half Cent Choice AU 99 No Reserve TRUE AUCTION
$71.00
1832 Classic Head Half Cent F Fine VF Very Fine A1
1832 Classic Head Half Cent F Fine VF Very Fine A1
$8.50
1833 Half Cent Classic Head  Free Shipping
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Free Shipping
$66.00
1826 HALF CENT 99 CENT START NR
1826 HALF CENT 99 CENT START NR
$16.56
1835 HALF CENT 99 CENT START NR
1835 HALF CENT 99 CENT START NR
$5.55
1834 Classic Head Holed 1834 Half Cent 1 2c Circulated
1834 Classic Head Holed 1834 Half Cent 1 2c Circulated
$14.50
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Beautiful AU
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Beautiful AU
$285.00
1809 Classic Half Cent Attractive Fine Details
1809 Classic Half Cent Attractive Fine Details
$13.50
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Very Good Fine Crosslet 4 Stemless
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Very Good Fine Crosslet 4 Stemless
$15.50
1828 Classic Head Half Cent with 12 Stars
1828 Classic Head Half Cent with 12 Stars
$8.50
QUALITY 1833 CLASSIC HEAD COPPER HALF CENT ABOUT UNCIRCULATED CONDITION
QUALITY 1833 CLASSIC HEAD COPPER HALF CENT ABOUT UNCIRCULATED CONDITION
$13.00

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




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