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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.

1857 Half Cent Braided Hair
1857 Half Cent Braided Hair
$145.49
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
$60.99
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
$20.50
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 1
$12.11
1808 Half Cent Draped Bust Cohen C 3
1808 Half Cent Draped Bust Cohen C 3
$10.49
1811 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 2
1811 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 2
$126.00
1811 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 2
1811 Half Cent Classic Head Cohen C 2
$91.90
1808 PCGS VF Details Damage Cohen 3 Half Cent Item30596909 HC
1808 PCGS VF Details Damage Cohen 3 Half Cent Item30596909 HC
$60.00
1807 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
1807 HALF CENTNO RESERVE
$14.48
1834 P US CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT C 1 COIN ++NGC slabbed XF DETAILS++
1834 P US CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT C 1 COIN ++NGC slabbed XF DETAILS++
$77.99
1800 Half Cent USA
1800 Half Cent USA
$23.01
1804 1 2C Crosslet 4 Stems BN Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 1 2C Crosslet 4 Stems BN Draped Bust Half Cent
$41.40
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Coin Plain No Stems
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Coin Plain No Stems
$30.49
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Fine
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent Fine
$42.00
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent Nice Original Very Fine
1805 Draped Bust Half Cent Nice Original Very Fine
$115.26
1809 US Half Cent Damaged
1809 US Half Cent Damaged
$9.48
1835 HALF CENT VERY FINE PLUS
1835 HALF CENT VERY FINE PLUS
$35.00
1808 1 2C BN Draped Bust Half Cent
1808 1 2C BN Draped Bust Half Cent
$18.50
1834 Classic Head Half Cent 14 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
1834 Classic Head Half Cent 14 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
$27.95
1826 Half Cent Extra Fine Details BUT Rim Dings Rotated High Value
1826 Half Cent Extra Fine Details BUT Rim Dings Rotated High Value
$6.57
US Half Cent 1826 G VG
US Half Cent 1826 G VG
$31.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent
$28.00
1808 HALF CENT VG
1808 HALF CENT VG
$11.50
1808 HALF CENT F
1808 HALF CENT F
$16.66
US COINS 1834 CLASSIC HALF CENT NICE XF
US COINS 1834 CLASSIC HALF CENT NICE XF
$36.00
1811 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT VERY FINE RARE KEY DATE
1811 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT VERY FINE RARE KEY DATE
$98.78
US COINS 1833 CLASSIC HALF CENT NICE
US COINS 1833 CLASSIC HALF CENT NICE
$41.99
1854 Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2C PCGS Genuine Quest Color AU Details99 RESERVE
1854 Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2C PCGS Genuine Quest Color AU Details99 RESERVE
$120.00
US COINS 1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT NICE XF
US COINS 1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT NICE XF
$30.00
US COINS 1855 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT NICE XF AU
US COINS 1855 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT NICE XF AU
$46.00

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




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