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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.

1809 Classic Half Cent
1809 Classic Half Cent
$18.59
1809 US CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
1809 US CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT
$28.03
1804 Spiked Chin Draped Bust Half Cent VF  Circulated US Coin
1804 Spiked Chin Draped Bust Half Cent VF Circulated US Coin
$77.76
1832 US Half Cent details damage good for filler No Reserve
1832 US Half Cent details damage good for filler No Reserve
$15.50
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
$52.00
1825 Classic Head Half Cent NGC VG10 BN NR
1825 Classic Head Half Cent NGC VG10 BN NR
$39.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent + Crosslet 4 + Nice Circ + No Reserve
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent + Crosslet 4 + Nice Circ + No Reserve
$76.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent + Plain 4 + Nice Circ + No Reserve
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent + Plain 4 + Nice Circ + No Reserve
$71.00
1834 Half Cent Classic Head  Free Shipping
1834 Half Cent Classic Head Free Shipping
$26.00
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
1808 Draped Bust Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
$50.00
1854 Half Cent Braided Hair  Free Shipping
1854 Half Cent Braided Hair Free Shipping
$35.00
1810 Classic Head Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
1810 Classic Head Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
$35.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent + Nice Circ + No Reserve
$41.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent
$33.00
1809 Half Cent Penny
1809 Half Cent Penny
$31.00
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Choice XF Early Date Copper  Free S H
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce Choice XF Early Date Copper Free S H
$89.88
1806 Half Cent Draped Bust Beautiful Hard To Find Copper Choice AU++ Unc
1806 Half Cent Draped Bust Beautiful Hard To Find Copper Choice AU++ Unc
$129.38
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Copper Coin
1828 Classic Head Half Cent Copper Coin
$26.00
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent Copper Coin
1851 Braided Hair Half Cent Copper Coin
$38.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Copper Coin
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Copper Coin
$18.55
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT Rev Light scratches EXTREMELY FINE 389478 hh
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT Rev Light scratches EXTREMELY FINE 389478 hh
$41.00
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT Light porous EXTREMELY FINE 353760 he
1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT Light porous EXTREMELY FINE 353760 he
$50.00
PCGS Certified 1808 7 VF 25 Draped Bust Half Cent COHEN 2 Scarce in this Grade
PCGS Certified 1808 7 VF 25 Draped Bust Half Cent COHEN 2 Scarce in this Grade
$218.50
1832 HIGHLY SOUGHT HALF CENT
1832 HIGHLY SOUGHT HALF CENT
$45.00
1835 REAL BEAUTY GEM BU+++++ HALF CENT
1835 REAL BEAUTY GEM BU+++++ HALF CENT
$170.50
1825 Classic Head Half Cent NGC F15 BN
1825 Classic Head Half Cent NGC F15 BN
$46.01
1788 Massachusetts Half Cent Evanson Restrike Lot 83
1788 Massachusetts Half Cent Evanson Restrike Lot 83
$28.50
Nice 1832 Classic Head Half Cent
Nice 1832 Classic Head Half Cent
$27.89
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT MINTY REALLY NICE TYPE COIN AWESOME LOOK
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT MINTY REALLY NICE TYPE COIN AWESOME LOOK
$46.09
1803 Half Cent Draped Bust RARE Early Date Copper  Free Shipping
1803 Half Cent Draped Bust RARE Early Date Copper Free Shipping
$26.00

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