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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.

1807 Draped Bust Half Cent
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent
$12.05
1808 Half Cent 1 2C
1808 Half Cent 1 2C
$26.51
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
$29.00
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT UNGRADED
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT UNGRADED
$21.61
Outstanding 1833 Classic Head Half Cent ITEMT100
Outstanding 1833 Classic Head Half Cent ITEMT100
$64.51
1829 Classic Head Half Cent very nice medium grade no problems
1829 Classic Head Half Cent very nice medium grade no problems
$22.00
1803 Half Cent very nice
1803 Half Cent very nice
$51.00
1804 Half Cent very nice plain 4 stemless
1804 Half Cent very nice plain 4 stemless
$60.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent F+ Condition Free Shipping
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent F+ Condition Free Shipping
$17.99
1807 Half Cent very nice
1807 Half Cent very nice
$65.00
1808 Half Cent very nice
1808 Half Cent very nice
$20.50
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Spiked Chin F+ Condition Free Shipping
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Spiked Chin F+ Condition Free Shipping
$26.00
1833 Half Cent extremely nice
1833 Half Cent extremely nice
$36.00
1851 Half Cent Ch AU  99 No Reserve TRUE AUCTION
1851 Half Cent Ch AU 99 No Reserve TRUE AUCTION
$33.09
1809 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1809 Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$13.30
1832 HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM MY TYPE SET
1832 HIGH GRADE HALF CENT FROM MY TYPE SET
$37.00
1853 HALF CENT BRAIDED HAIR IN EXCELLENT CONDITION AU+ NO RESERVE
1853 HALF CENT BRAIDED HAIR IN EXCELLENT CONDITION AU+ NO RESERVE
$34.00
1807 1 2C BN Draped Bust Half Cent NR
1807 1 2C BN Draped Bust Half Cent NR
$37.99
 1800  DRAPED BUST Half Cent
1800 DRAPED BUST Half Cent
$3.16
1835 Half Cent No Reserve Auction
1835 Half Cent No Reserve Auction
$48.00
3 Type 1804 Draped Bust Half Cent 1803 Large 1C 1875 S Twenty Cent Piece 20C
3 Type 1804 Draped Bust Half Cent 1803 Large 1C 1875 S Twenty Cent Piece 20C
$43.89
1803 US Draped Bust Half Cent
1803 US Draped Bust Half Cent
$100.01
Half cent penny 1828 nice coin
Half cent penny 1828 nice coin
$19.99
1 2c 1811 Classic Head Half Cent PCGS AU details  KEY DATE  No Reserve
1 2c 1811 Classic Head Half Cent PCGS AU details KEY DATE No Reserve
$570.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent
$31.01
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent
$5.72
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent
$20.51
1795 Liberty Cap Half Cent Bold Date Rare Type Coin Early Copper 1 2C
1795 Liberty Cap Half Cent Bold Date Rare Type Coin Early Copper 1 2C
$78.00
US Coin Estate Find 1804 Early Copper Draped Bust Large Half Cent
US Coin Estate Find 1804 Early Copper Draped Bust Large Half Cent
$28.00
1809 Classic Head Half Cent
1809 Classic Head Half Cent
$11.11

Use this search tool, find Rare and Certified U.S. Coins:




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