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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.

1804 1 2C Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 1 2C Draped Bust Half Cent
$32.00
1803 1 2 Penny Draped Bust Half Cent
1803 1 2 Penny Draped Bust Half Cent
$11.50
1800 Draped Bust Half Cent
1800 Draped Bust Half Cent
$7.50
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Scarce Early Date Copper  Free Shipping
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Scarce Early Date Copper Free Shipping
$39.00
1835 United States Classic Head Half Cent 1 2C Free SH USA
1835 United States Classic Head Half Cent 1 2C Free SH USA
$16.50
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
1809 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
$19.50
1828 Classic Head Half Cent  Circulated US Coin
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Circulated US Coin
$21.50
1833 Classic Head Half Cent Fine to Very Fine Details Reverse  Obverse Scratch
1833 Classic Head Half Cent Fine to Very Fine Details Reverse Obverse Scratch
$15.50
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Fine Details Light Scratches Reverse
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent Very Fine Details Light Scratches Reverse
$20.53
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
$78.00
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice Uncirculated Copper  Free Shipping
1833 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice Uncirculated Copper Free Shipping
$81.00
1828 Classic Head Copper Half Cent NGC VF30
1828 Classic Head Copper Half Cent NGC VF30
$39.00
1825 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice BU Early Copper  Free Shipping
1825 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice BU Early Copper Free Shipping
$102.70
1856 US Half Cent Braided Hair Nice Color Copper Coin
1856 US Half Cent Braided Hair Nice Color Copper Coin
$31.00
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Highly Collected Early Copper Series  Free S H
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Highly Collected Early Copper Series Free S H
$27.00
1825 Classic Head Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
1825 Classic Head Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
$36.00
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent Beautiful High Grade Coin Rare Date
$45.00
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Choice Uncirculated Early Coller  Free Shipping
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Choice Uncirculated Early Coller Free Shipping
$67.00
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent VG
1807 Draped Bust Half Cent VG
$19.50
Wonderful 1828 United States Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c Coin EW123
Wonderful 1828 United States Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c Coin EW123
$63.02
Wonderful 1828 United States Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c Coin EW124
Wonderful 1828 United States Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c Coin EW124
$16.05
US 1805 Draped Bust Half Cent
US 1805 Draped Bust Half Cent
$19.50
1849 Half Cent Braided Hair Choice AU++ Unc Copper  Free Shipping
1849 Half Cent Braided Hair Choice AU++ Unc Copper Free Shipping
$36.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Stemless
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Stemless
$31.00
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice BU++ Early Copper  Free Shipping
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Nice Choice BU++ Early Copper Free Shipping
$76.00
1826 HIGHLY SOUGHT HALF CENT
1826 HIGHLY SOUGHT HALF CENT
$21.50
1800  1803  1805 Half Cent Draped Bust coin lot
1800 1803 1805 Half Cent Draped Bust coin lot
$41.00
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent Large Date MS Details
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent Large Date MS Details
$83.00
1809 9 Half Cent Classic Head Very Tough  Free Shipping
1809 9 Half Cent Classic Head Very Tough Free Shipping
$66.88
1851 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1851 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$7.50

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