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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.

1808 United States Draped Bust Half Cent
1808 United States Draped Bust Half Cent
$32.00
1809 1 2C Cohen Classic Head Half Cent f to vf
1809 1 2C Cohen Classic Head Half Cent f to vf
$20.56
1853 HALF CENT BRAIDED HAIR GRADE BU+ AS PICTURED INV 101
1853 HALF CENT BRAIDED HAIR GRADE BU+ AS PICTURED INV 101
$76.50
1855 HALF CENT BRAIDED HAIR GRADE BU+ AS PICTURED INV 102
1855 HALF CENT BRAIDED HAIR GRADE BU+ AS PICTURED INV 102
$102.50
1829 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1829 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$12.50
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$28.00
1851 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
1851 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
$33.00
1856 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
1856 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
$20.50
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping
$43.00
Old US Coin Lot Half Cent Large Cent Seated Quarter and More No Reserve
Old US Coin Lot Half Cent Large Cent Seated Quarter and More No Reserve
$30.00
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$6.51
1854 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
1854 Philadelphia Mint Copper Braided Hair Half Cent Free Shipping
$13.00
1805 HALF CENT
1805 HALF CENT
$13.50
1793 Half Cent
1793 Half Cent
$1,576.00
AFFORDABLE 1808 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT FREE SHIPPING
AFFORDABLE 1808 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT FREE SHIPPING
$13.50
US COINS 1839 1964 1851 HALF CENT 1839 LARGE CENT 1854 QUARTER 1964 HALF
US COINS 1839 1964 1851 HALF CENT 1839 LARGE CENT 1854 QUARTER 1964 HALF
$32.00
50 US Coin Lot  Half Cent  Large Cent 2 Cent  Indian Head Cents
50 US Coin Lot Half Cent Large Cent 2 Cent Indian Head Cents
$29.00
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust  Free Shipping
1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Free Shipping
$59.00
1834 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1834 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$81.00
1834 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1834 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$20.50
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping
$13.63
1803 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
1803 Philadelphia Mint Copper Draped Bust Half Cent Free Shipping
$36.75
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT LOW MINTAGE CIRCULATED COIN GREAT DETAIL REMAINS
1851 BRAIDED HAIR HALF CENT LOW MINTAGE CIRCULATED COIN GREAT DETAIL REMAINS
$39.00
1800 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce This Nice Early Copper Choice AU++
1800 Half Cent Draped Bust Scarce This Nice Early Copper Choice AU++
$336.00
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent LOW MINTAGE HC900
1803 Draped Bust Half Cent LOW MINTAGE HC900
$20.50
1804 US HALF CENT Draped Bust SCARCE  Early Date VF Details NO RESERVE
1804 US HALF CENT Draped Bust SCARCE Early Date VF Details NO RESERVE
$38.10
1834 1 2C half Cent Cohen 1 Variety NGC graded AU58 BN RARE Coin Classic Head
1834 1 2C half Cent Cohen 1 Variety NGC graded AU58 BN RARE Coin Classic Head
$81.00
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Stemless Wreath Exceptional Half Penny XF
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent Plain 4 Stemless Wreath Exceptional Half Penny XF
$61.00
1805 Bust Half Cent a2716
1805 Bust Half Cent a2716
$28.77
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Coin Auction Starts At 99 Cents
1804 Draped Bust Half Cent 1 2C Coin Auction Starts At 99 Cents
$15.50

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