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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.

1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Large 6 Stems C 4 ANACS G 4 Details A 013
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Large 6 Stems C 4 ANACS G 4 Details A 013
$22.72
1808 half cent
1808 half cent
$4.50
1804 HALF CENT
1804 HALF CENT
$30.00
1833 Half Cent
1833 Half Cent
$58.00
1835 Classic Head Half Cent nice original XF Detail Holed
1835 Classic Head Half Cent nice original XF Detail Holed
$12.50
1829 Classic Head Half Cent VG Details Rotated Reverse  US Coin
1829 Classic Head Half Cent VG Details Rotated Reverse US Coin
$27.00
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent XF Extra Fine Details We Combine Shipping
1855 Braided Hair Half Cent XF Extra Fine Details We Combine Shipping
$34.00
1802 0 Draped Bust Half Cent Reverse of 1802
1802 0 Draped Bust Half Cent Reverse of 1802
$110.00
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Very Good to Fine as per Yeomans book
1835 Classic Head Half Cent Very Good to Fine as per Yeomans book
$61.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 No Stems VF Very Fine Details
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 No Stems VF Very Fine Details
$144.87
1864 NOVA SCOTIA HALF CENT
1864 NOVA SCOTIA HALF CENT
$23.75
1826 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT CIRCULATED COIN WELL DETAILED IMPRESSIVE
1826 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT CIRCULATED COIN WELL DETAILED IMPRESSIVE
$21.50
1851 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Strike Choice BU++
1851 Half Cent Braided Hair Sharp Strike Choice BU++
$60.00
1826 HALF CENT100 Degree Die Rotation
1826 HALF CENT100 Degree Die Rotation
$20.50
1808 RARE FIND ULTRA HIGH GRADE HALF CENT
1808 RARE FIND ULTRA HIGH GRADE HALF CENT
$71.00
1826 HIGHLY SOUGHT HALF CENT
1826 HIGHLY SOUGHT HALF CENT
$21.50
1851 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT
1851 VERY HIGH GRADE HALF CENT
$32.50
1834 Classic Head Half Cent XF+Au Natural Toning Rare 141000 Mintage
1834 Classic Head Half Cent XF+Au Natural Toning Rare 141000 Mintage
$37.00
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT 398000 MINTED REVERSE ROTATED 183 YEARS OLD
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT 398000 MINTED REVERSE ROTATED 183 YEARS OLD
$18.50
1804 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent
$49.00
Lot Of 2 US Copper Coins 1804 Half Cent  1853 Braided Hair Large Cent
Lot Of 2 US Copper Coins 1804 Half Cent 1853 Braided Hair Large Cent
$11.51
1853 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT XF CONDITION BEAUTIFUL COIN
1853 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT XF CONDITION BEAUTIFUL COIN
$21.55
1826 1 2c Classic Head Half Cent PCGS Genuine AU Details Cleaned Coin A4558
1826 1 2c Classic Head Half Cent PCGS Genuine AU Details Cleaned Coin A4558
$32.00
1802 US Draped Bust HALF CENT Old US Coins
1802 US Draped Bust HALF CENT Old US Coins
$31.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Crosslet 4 No Stems 1 2C
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Crosslet 4 No Stems 1 2C
$27.00
1850 Half Cent High Grade
1850 Half Cent High Grade
$152.50
1851 Half Cent great looking high grade coin
1851 Half Cent great looking high grade coin
$61.00
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful Coin Rare Date
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful Coin Rare Date
$40.99
1793 LIBERTY CAP HALF CENT
1793 LIBERTY CAP HALF CENT
$260.00
1809 NGC XF 1 2C Half Cent 99c NO RESERVE
1809 NGC XF 1 2C Half Cent 99c NO RESERVE
$23.05

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