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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.

1803 Draped Bust Half Cent NGC G 6
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent NGC G 6
$76.75
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent NGC VG 10
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent NGC VG 10
$94.00
1832 KEYDATE HALF CENT 50000 MINTED
1832 KEYDATE HALF CENT 50000 MINTED
$46.00
1851 HALF CENT LOW MINTAGE
1851 HALF CENT LOW MINTAGE
$18.25
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 0018
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 0018
$45.01
1851 1 2C BN Braided Hair Half Cent 0069
1851 1 2C BN Braided Hair Half Cent 0069
$72.07
1853 United States of America Braided Hair Half Cent Coin99 RESERVE FREE S H
1853 United States of America Braided Hair Half Cent Coin99 RESERVE FREE S H
$52.89
 1805  DRAPED BUST Half Cent
1805 DRAPED BUST Half Cent
$78.98
 1832  CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent
1832 CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent
$31.05
 1835  CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent
1835 CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent
$8.27
1805 LARGE 5 STEMS PCGS VG DETAILS DRAPED BUST HALF CENT ID Y45
1805 LARGE 5 STEMS PCGS VG DETAILS DRAPED BUST HALF CENT ID Y45
$42.99
1797 Liberty Cap Right Half Cent Plain Edge Cohen 2 R3
1797 Liberty Cap Right Half Cent Plain Edge Cohen 2 R3
$58.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Crosslet 4
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Crosslet 4
$12.54
1809 Classic Head Half Cent 9 Over Inverted 9
1809 Classic Head Half Cent 9 Over Inverted 9
$13.75
1809 Classic Head Half Cent VG Details
1809 Classic Head Half Cent VG Details
$16.00
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars
1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars
$15.50
1853 Coronet Head Half Cent VG Details
1853 Coronet Head Half Cent VG Details
$21.06
1854 Coronet Head Half Cent A ABOUT GOOD Coin
1854 Coronet Head Half Cent A ABOUT GOOD Coin
$35.00
Early Americana Cull Half Cent  111726
Early Americana Cull Half Cent 111726
$4.05
United States Classic Head Half Cent 1834 counterstamped W J C
United States Classic Head Half Cent 1834 counterstamped W J C
$9.50
1809 Half cent classic head
1809 Half cent classic head
$19.50
1835 Half Cent Coin Classic Head Liberty Readable 1 2 cent US
1835 Half Cent Coin Classic Head Liberty Readable 1 2 cent US
$16.45
Half Cent 1828 Half Cent You Grade Almost 200 Years Old Pre Civil War
Half Cent 1828 Half Cent You Grade Almost 200 Years Old Pre Civil War
$17.06
1837 Half Cent Hard Time Token
1837 Half Cent Hard Time Token
$24.55
1832 C 1 R2 Half Cent Choice Almost Uncirculated Much Tougher Variety
1832 C 1 R2 Half Cent Choice Almost Uncirculated Much Tougher Variety
$53.00
1834 1 2C HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS SCRATCH F DETAILS COIN
1834 1 2C HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS SCRATCH F DETAILS COIN
$21.50
1806 Small 6 No Stems Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS Genuine Env Damage G Details
1806 Small 6 No Stems Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS Genuine Env Damage G Details
$16.50
US COINS 1804 CR 4 WS DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NICE
US COINS 1804 CR 4 WS DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NICE
$23.30
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Stemless VF Details True Auction
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Stemless VF Details True Auction
$37.00
US COINS 1800 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NICE
US COINS 1800 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NICE
$28.60

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




1803 Draped Bust Half Cent NGC G 6,  1808 Draped Bust Half Cent NGC VG 10,  1832 KEYDATE HALF CENT 50000 MINTED,  1851 HALF CENT LOW MINTAGE,  1828 Classic Head Half Cent 0018,  1829 1 2C BN Classic Head Half Cent 0036,  1851 1 2C BN Braided Hair Half Cent 0069,  1856 half cent XF details old cleaning,  1853 United States of America Braided Hair Half Cent Coin99 RESERVE FREE S H,   1805 DRAPED BUST Half Cent,   1832 CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent,   1835 CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent,  1805 LARGE 5 STEMS PCGS VG DETAILS DRAPED BUST HALF CENT ID Y45,  1797 Liberty Cap Right Half Cent Plain Edge Cohen 2 R3,  1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Crosslet 4,  1809 Classic Head Half Cent 9 Over Inverted 9,  1809 Classic Head Half Cent VG Details,  1828 Classic Head Half Cent 13 Stars,  1853 Coronet Head Half Cent VG Details,  1854 Coronet Head Half Cent A ABOUT GOOD Coin,  Early Americana Cull Half Cent 111726,  1807 1 2C BN Draped Bust Half Cent,  United States Classic Head Half Cent 1834 counterstamped W J C,  1809 Half cent classic head,  1835 Half Cent Coin Classic Head Liberty Readable 1 2 cent US,  Half Cent 1828 Half Cent You Grade Almost 200 Years Old Pre Civil War,  1837 Half Cent Hard Time Token,  1832 C 1 R2 Half Cent Choice Almost Uncirculated Much Tougher Variety,  US COINS 1806 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NICE ,  1834 1 2C HALF CENT CLASSIC HEAD PCGS SCRATCH F DETAILS COIN,  

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