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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.

1797 US Mint FLOWING HAIR LIBERTY HALF CENT Coin NICE
1797 US Mint FLOWING HAIR LIBERTY HALF CENT Coin NICE
$78.77
1806 US Mint DRAPED BUST LIBERTY HALF CENT Penny NICE
1806 US Mint DRAPED BUST LIBERTY HALF CENT Penny NICE
$52.00
1810 US Mint CLASSIC HEAD LIBERTY HALF CENT Coin NICE
1810 US Mint CLASSIC HEAD LIBERTY HALF CENT Coin NICE
$22.01
1828 US Mint CLASSIC HEAD LIBERTY HALF Cent Penny NICE
1828 US Mint CLASSIC HEAD LIBERTY HALF Cent Penny NICE
$13.00
1832 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT CH AU MS US COIN
1832 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT CH AU MS US COIN
$41.00
1826 Classic Head Half Cent 14 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
1826 Classic Head Half Cent 14 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
$103.50
1809 HALF CENT 99 CENT STARTNR2
1809 HALF CENT 99 CENT STARTNR2
$6.60
1793 LIBERTY CAP HALF CENT NEAR EXTREMELY FINE VERY RARE
1793 LIBERTY CAP HALF CENT NEAR EXTREMELY FINE VERY RARE
$2,800.00
1835 Half Cent nice strike
1835 Half Cent nice strike
$26.00
1794 half cent Liberty Cap Beautiful Coin Private Collection never on the Market
1794 half cent Liberty Cap Beautiful Coin Private Collection never on the Market
$480.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 No Stems 1 2C PCGS VF35
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 No Stems 1 2C PCGS VF35
$164.72
US Half Cent 1832 Classic Head
US Half Cent 1832 Classic Head
$39.00
US Half Cent 1807 Draped Bust
US Half Cent 1807 Draped Bust
$34.99
1833 Classic Head Half Cent H1C Good Details No Reserve
1833 Classic Head Half Cent H1C Good Details No Reserve
$10.51
US Half Cent 1809 Classic Head
US Half Cent 1809 Classic Head
$27.33
US Half Cent 1826 Classic Head Fancy 2
US Half Cent 1826 Classic Head Fancy 2
$30.30
US Half Cent 1828 Classic Head Fancy 2
US Half Cent 1828 Classic Head Fancy 2
$40.22
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Full LIBERTY Dark Brown
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Full LIBERTY Dark Brown
$12.50
US Half Cent 1829 Classic Head
US Half Cent 1829 Classic Head
$24.16
1805 Lg 5 with Stems C4 Half cent PCGS VF 30 choice David Kahn Rare Coins
1805 Lg 5 with Stems C4 Half cent PCGS VF 30 choice David Kahn Rare Coins
$245.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent G scratches
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent G scratches
$20.50
1834 Classic Head Half Cent G light scratches
1834 Classic Head Half Cent G light scratches
$20.56
1803 C3 Draped Bust Half cent PCGS VF 30 appealing David Kahn Rare Coins
1803 C3 Draped Bust Half cent PCGS VF 30 appealing David Kahn Rare Coins
$204.06
Half cent penny 1802 0 reverse of 1802 choice
Half cent penny 1802 0 reverse of 1802 choice
$497.00
1909 Portland Maine Good For Token Foster Avery Co Half Cent
1909 Portland Maine Good For Token Foster Avery Co Half Cent
$7.16
1828 US Half Cent 1 2 copper Classic head circulated nice
1828 US Half Cent 1 2 copper Classic head circulated nice
$6.50
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent ANACS EF 40 DETAILS CORRODED Free Shipping US Only
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent ANACS EF 40 DETAILS CORRODED Free Shipping US Only
$37.00
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT ABOUT GOOD
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT ABOUT GOOD
$15.50
1805 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT GOOD
1805 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT GOOD
$31.00
1828 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT FINE 12 STARS
1828 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT FINE 12 STARS
$28.03

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