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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.

USA Coin 1809 Classic Head Half Cent  Corroded Copper Cleaned
USA Coin 1809 Classic Head Half Cent Corroded Copper Cleaned
$6.59
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Coin
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Coin
$23.95
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent
$69.00
1795 Liberty Cap Half Cent Plain Edge No Pole PCGS Good Details Beautiful Coin
1795 Liberty Cap Half Cent Plain Edge No Pole PCGS Good Details Beautiful Coin
$127.50
1806 Half Cent Draped Bust Nice Choice XF++ Early Copper  Free Shipping
1806 Half Cent Draped Bust Nice Choice XF++ Early Copper Free Shipping
$95.00
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Nice AU++ Early Copper  Free Shipping
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Nice AU++ Early Copper Free Shipping
$63.00
1834 Half Cent US Coin Classic Head copper coin
1834 Half Cent US Coin Classic Head copper coin
$24.00
1854 Braided Hair Half Cent
1854 Braided Hair Half Cent
$34.00
1835 Half Cent US Coin Classic Head copper coin
1835 Half Cent US Coin Classic Head copper coin
$24.00
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT VERY GOOD DETAILS PITTED
1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT VERY GOOD DETAILS PITTED
$33.00
1828 UNC HALF CENT ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL TONED
1828 UNC HALF CENT ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL TONED
$26.01
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent
$52.00
RARE 1831 Classic Head Half Cent XF Altered Date  Circulated US Coin
RARE 1831 Classic Head Half Cent XF Altered Date Circulated US Coin
$48.51
1850 Braided Hair Half Cent
1850 Braided Hair Half Cent
$172.40
1802 0 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT Appears VG
1802 0 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT Appears VG
$76.00
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Early Copper  Free Shipping
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Early Copper Free Shipping
$39.80
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Very Choice AU++ Unc Copper  Free Shipping
1828 Half Cent Classic Head Very Choice AU++ Unc Copper Free Shipping
$51.50
1806 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1806 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$37.80
1835 HALF CENT PENNY CLASSIC HEAD COPPER AU BU DETAILS no reserve
1835 HALF CENT PENNY CLASSIC HEAD COPPER AU BU DETAILS no reserve
$40.99
1825 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT ROTATED DIES ANACS CERTIFIED VG 8 VERY GOOD 845
1825 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT ROTATED DIES ANACS CERTIFIED VG 8 VERY GOOD 845
$17.50
1833 Half Cent Classic Head AU Early Copper  Free Shipping
1833 Half Cent Classic Head AU Early Copper Free Shipping
$52.97
1803 Half Cent Draped Bust Tough Early Copper  Free Shipping
1803 Half Cent Draped Bust Tough Early Copper Free Shipping
$23.50
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS XF 40 CAC Small 6 No Stems
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent PCGS XF 40 CAC Small 6 No Stems
$230.50
1833 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1833 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$19.50
1828 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1828 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$5.50
1851 Half Cent Braided Hair Nice Choice BU++ Copper  Free Shipping
1851 Half Cent Braided Hair Nice Choice BU++ Copper Free Shipping
$73.00
1850 Half Cent Copper
1850 Half Cent Copper
$78.77
1849 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT NO RESERVE
1849 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT NO RESERVE
$40.09
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2C AU 50 PCGS
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent 1 2C AU 50 PCGS
$21.50
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent WOW
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent WOW
$39.55

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