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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.

1809 6 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT VERY GOOD CONDITION NO RESERVE
1809 6 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT VERY GOOD CONDITION NO RESERVE
$47.00
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT ABOUT GOOD CONDITION NO RESERVE
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT ABOUT GOOD CONDITION NO RESERVE
$20.50
1809 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
1809 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
$23.69
USA Pair of Vintage US Coins 1832 Classic Head 1851 Braided Hair Half Cent
USA Pair of Vintage US Coins 1832 Classic Head 1851 Braided Hair Half Cent
$52.00
1794 Half Cent
1794 Half Cent
$500.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
$43.00
1861 Nova Scotia Canada 1 2  Half  Cent Old Canadian Coin High Grade 082918
1861 Nova Scotia Canada 1 2 Half Cent Old Canadian Coin High Grade 082918
$3.29
1826 Classic Head Half Cent Type Coin Very Good VG
1826 Classic Head Half Cent Type Coin Very Good VG
$14.00
1825 Classic Head Copper Half Cent PCGS VG Details
1825 Classic Head Copper Half Cent PCGS VG Details
$14.50
1806 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT VERY GOOD DETAILS SCRATCHES
1806 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT VERY GOOD DETAILS SCRATCHES
$34.00
1804 Spiked Chin Draped Bust Half Cent VF  FREE SHIPPING
1804 Spiked Chin Draped Bust Half Cent VF FREE SHIPPING
$36.00
1807 DRAPED BUST LIBERTY HALF CENT FINE DETAILS FREE SHIPPING
1807 DRAPED BUST LIBERTY HALF CENT FINE DETAILS FREE SHIPPING
$30.00
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Plain 4 No Stems  Tough Early Date Survivor
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Plain 4 No Stems Tough Early Date Survivor
$300.00
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
$16.50
1804 Half Cent Liberty Draped Bust
1804 Half Cent Liberty Draped Bust
$45.00
 1800 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Coin
1800 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Coin
$31.01
 1803 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Coin Corroded
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Coin Corroded
$14.09
 1835 Classic Head Half Cent 1 2C Coin UF XF
1835 Classic Head Half Cent 1 2C Coin UF XF
$19.50
 1851 Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2C Coin XF AU
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2C Coin XF AU
$51.00
1794 Half CentAnacs Holder Damage Corroded
1794 Half CentAnacs Holder Damage Corroded
$61.00
1797 Half CentNGC AG Details Damaged
1797 Half CentNGC AG Details Damaged
$72.00
1811 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 2
1811 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 2
$47.00
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
$10.50
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 3 Thirteen Star
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 3 Thirteen Star
$5.50
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
$19.25
1853 Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
1853 Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
$35.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars  Free Shipping
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars Free Shipping
$58.76
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Spiked Chin  Free Shipping
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Spiked Chin Free Shipping
$270.00
1804 Nice High Grade StemlessCrosslet 4 Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 Nice High Grade StemlessCrosslet 4 Draped Bust Half Cent
$59.00
1857 NGC AU Details Improperly Cleaned Braided Hair C 1 Half Cent
1857 NGC AU Details Improperly Cleaned Braided Hair C 1 Half Cent
$86.00

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