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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.

1805 Draped Bust Half Cent Large 5 W Stems VF Details Holed
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent Large 5 W Stems VF Details Holed
$29.00
1829 Classic Head Half Cent XF Details Holed  Plugged
1829 Classic Head Half Cent XF Details Holed Plugged
$35.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent  NO RESERVE
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent NO RESERVE
$13.83
1834 US Mint Classic Head 1 2c Half Cent Coin
1834 US Mint Classic Head 1 2c Half Cent Coin
$31.01
1828 US Mint Classic Head 1 2c Half Cent Coin
1828 US Mint Classic Head 1 2c Half Cent Coin
$26.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent AU Details NGC
1828 Classic Head Half Cent AU Details NGC
$61.00
1853 C 1 Classic Head Half Cent AU Details NGC
1853 C 1 Classic Head Half Cent AU Details NGC
$46.00
Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c 1828 13 Stars NGC AU Details
Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c 1828 13 Stars NGC AU Details
$53.00
Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c 1809 6 C 5 Rare variety 9 over inverted 9
Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c 1809 6 C 5 Rare variety 9 over inverted 9
$123.50
1804 US Draped Bust Half Cent  Crosslet 4 Stems To Wreath  High Grade
1804 US Draped Bust Half Cent Crosslet 4 Stems To Wreath High Grade
$35.00
1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF Details Holed
1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF Details Holed
$16.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
$63.00
Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2c 1853 High grade
Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2c 1853 High grade
$46.45
1834 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1834 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$76.00
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Very Nice Choice BU++ Copper  Free Shipping
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Very Nice Choice BU++ Copper Free Shipping
$120.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
$28.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent
$10.50
1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF Details Holed
1832 Classic Head Half Cent VF Details Holed
$14.50
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent VG Details Holed
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent VG Details Holed
$12.50
1804 HIGHLY PURSUED HALF CENT
1804 HIGHLY PURSUED HALF CENT
$57.25
1826 ELUSIVE HIGH GRADE HALF CENT
1826 ELUSIVE HIGH GRADE HALF CENT
$57.25
1835 REAL BEAUTY R B UNC+++ HALF CENT
1835 REAL BEAUTY R B UNC+++ HALF CENT
$193.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent AU Details NGC
1828 Classic Head Half Cent AU Details NGC
$40.50
1835 US HALF CENTCLASSIC HEAD LOW MINTAGE398000NICE DETAILS TAKE A LOOK
1835 US HALF CENTCLASSIC HEAD LOW MINTAGE398000NICE DETAILS TAKE A LOOK
$11.00
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PLAIN 4 NO STEMS VERY NICE DETAIL DARK PATINA
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PLAIN 4 NO STEMS VERY NICE DETAIL DARK PATINA
$64.25
1809 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1809 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$9.00
1795 Liberty Cap Plain Edge C 6A 1 2 Cent Half Cent ANACS AG 3 Details
1795 Liberty Cap Plain Edge C 6A 1 2 Cent Half Cent ANACS AG 3 Details
$45.00
1809 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1809 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$8.00
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Very Nice Choice Gem BU++ Early Copper Free S H
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Very Nice Choice Gem BU++ Early Copper Free S H
$51.00
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Beautiful Razor Sharp Solid Gem BU++  Free S H
1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Beautiful Razor Sharp Solid Gem BU++ Free S H
$42.00

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