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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.

Circulated 1832 Philadelphia Classic Head Half Cent Good
Circulated 1832 Philadelphia Classic Head Half Cent Good
$35.21
1804 Half Cent
1804 Half Cent
$20.51
1828 HALF CENT 1 2 cent US Coin Classic Head LOW MINTAGE Half Penny
1828 HALF CENT 1 2 cent US Coin Classic Head LOW MINTAGE Half Penny
$31.00
1835 Classic Head Half Cent VF  FREE SHIPPING
1835 Classic Head Half Cent VF FREE SHIPPING
$43.80
1803 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
1803 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
$28.00
1795 VERY RARE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1795 VERY RARE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$178.50
1800 VERY RARE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1800 VERY RARE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$20.30
1804 HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1804 HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$24.50
1809 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1809 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$46.98
1810 HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1810 HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$41.00
1828 HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1828 HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$30.00
1829 HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1829 HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$30.00
1856 ULTRA HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
1856 ULTRA HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM BIG COLLECTION
$61.75
1810 Classic Head Half Cent
1810 Classic Head Half Cent
$13.25
1826 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT 1 2c EXTRA FINE XF TAKE A LOOK
1826 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT 1 2c EXTRA FINE XF TAKE A LOOK
$35.55
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT HIGH GRADE SEE SCAN NICE COIN
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT HIGH GRADE SEE SCAN NICE COIN
$15.50
1828 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT HIGH GRADE SEE SCAN NICE COIN
1828 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT HIGH GRADE SEE SCAN NICE COIN
$17.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent nice Higher GRADE
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent nice Higher GRADE
$92.67
1828 1 2 Half Cent Classic Head EP
1828 1 2 Half Cent Classic Head EP
$15.50
1811 Close Date Nice G VG Scarce Classic Head Half Cent
1811 Close Date Nice G VG Scarce Classic Head Half Cent
$138.30
NO RESERVE 1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Stem 4 Spiked chin210 yrs old
NO RESERVE 1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Stem 4 Spiked chin210 yrs old
$52.00
1807 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
1807 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
$31.00
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$20.01
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1809 Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$21.50
1834 Matron Head Half Cent
1834 Matron Head Half Cent
$51.00
Outstanding 1833 Classic Head Half Cent ITEMT100
Outstanding 1833 Classic Head Half Cent ITEMT100
$51.00
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$16.38
1828 Classic Head Half Cent NO Reserve Auction
1828 Classic Head Half Cent NO Reserve Auction
$11.50
1808 Half Cent Very Good Grade slightly bent a Bargain Coming YOUR Way
1808 Half Cent Very Good Grade slightly bent a Bargain Coming YOUR Way
$4.80
1825 Half Cent a pleasing Good grade
1825 Half Cent a pleasing Good grade
$9.95

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