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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 US Classic Head Half Cent Coin
1809 US Classic Head Half Cent Coin
$41.54
1828 Classic Head Liberty Half Cent Copper Original Circulated
1828 Classic Head Liberty Half Cent Copper Original Circulated
$46.34
1806 Draped Bust Early Copper Half Cent Original Circulated
1806 Draped Bust Early Copper Half Cent Original Circulated
$48.00
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT CH AU US COIN RARE
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT CH AU US COIN RARE
$120.50
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
$66.00
1828 HALF CENT FINE DETAILS
1828 HALF CENT FINE DETAILS
$25.10
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent COIN
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent COIN
$33.05
1804 Crosslet 4 Stems Draped Bust Half Cent FINE  Circulated US Coin
1804 Crosslet 4 Stems Draped Bust Half Cent FINE Circulated US Coin
$53.00
1828 HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD COIN
1828 HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD COIN
$20.50
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Sharp Choice BU Copper  Free Shipping
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Sharp Choice BU Copper Free Shipping
$42.00
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Crosslet 4 Stems Tough XF Early Copper Free S H
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Crosslet 4 Stems Tough XF Early Copper Free S H
$46.00
1809 Classic Head Half Cent VF+ Rotated Reverse  Circulated US Coin
1809 Classic Head Half Cent VF+ Rotated Reverse Circulated US Coin
$40.00
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT FIRST YEAR OF SERIES 208 YEARS OLD
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT FIRST YEAR OF SERIES 208 YEARS OLD
$11.50
1828 Classic Head Copper Half Cent NGC VF30
1828 Classic Head Copper Half Cent NGC VF30
$32.00
1829 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice BU Early Copper Tough Free Shipping
1829 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice BU Early Copper Tough Free Shipping
$88.54
1834 half cent
1834 half cent
$42.78
1803 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Early Date  Free Shipping
1803 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Early Date Free Shipping
$23.00
1835 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent
1835 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent
$20.50
1853 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT HIGH GRADE NO RESERVE
1853 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT HIGH GRADE NO RESERVE
$48.48
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent C 9 Die State 95 Very Scarce Spiked Chin Variety
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent C 9 Die State 95 Very Scarce Spiked Chin Variety
$26.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent VERY FINE
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent VERY FINE
$32.00
1807 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Early Copper  Free Shipping
1807 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Early Copper Free Shipping
$36.00
1808 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1808 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$10.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Stemless VF XF
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Stemless VF XF
$77.00
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Nice Choice Uncirculated Copper  Free Shipping
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Nice Choice Uncirculated Copper Free Shipping
$26.00
1803 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT GOOD DETAIL REMAINS
1803 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT GOOD DETAIL REMAINS
$17.50
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PCGS XF 40 PLAIN 4 NO0 STEMS
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PCGS XF 40 PLAIN 4 NO0 STEMS
$69.00
1806 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NGC 25 rotated reverse
1806 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NGC 25 rotated reverse
$11.50
1850 Braided Hair Half Cent AU
1850 Braided Hair Half Cent AU
$31.00
1834 ANACS AU 55 Cleaned Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c
1834 ANACS AU 55 Cleaned Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c
$12.50

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