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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.


1828 Half Cent Another 1 sale 7

$31.55


1804 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT PCGS XF 40 PLAIN 4 NO0 STEMS

$351.00


1806 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT NGC 25 rotated reverse

$177.50


1828 CLASSIC HEAD Half Cent

$33.06


1851 BRAIDED HAIR Half Cent

$40.00


1809 Half Cent

$26.11


1850 Braided Hair Half Cent AU

$236.50


Half cent penny 1809 6 repunched date original collector coin

$27.00


1834 ANACS AU 55 Cleaned Classic Head Half Cent 1 2c

$39.00


Scarce Early 1803 US Draped Bust Copper Half Cent Penny Coin w No Reserve

$13.00


1834 Classic Head Half Cent XF Details True Auction No Reserve

$22.44


1850 Braided Hair Half Cent G VG Details True Auction No Reserve

$78.78


1826 Half Cent Type Coin No Reserve

$20.50


1853 1 Half Cent BN Braided Hair PCGS Graded

$27.00


RARE 1809 small 0 inside 0 Variety Rare Key Date Half Cent High Grade Coin A7

$28.98


1804 Half Cent Draped Bust Great Strike Definition Choice XF Free S H

$84.00


1835 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent Free Shipping

$21.59


1828 Philadelphia Mint Copper Classic Head Half Cent 13 stars Free Shipping

$19.50


1809 Classic head half cent Rotated dies Anacs VF 20

$19.50


1833 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT PCGS AU 50

$49.00


1835 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENT PCGS XF 45

$56.00


1837 HARD TIMES TOKEN Half Cent of Copper NGC VF 35 BN

$35.00


1825 Half Cent Classic Head Very Scarce Choice AU++ Early Copper Free S H

$56.00


1808 US Draped Bust Copper Half Cent

$7.50


1825 CLASSIC HEAD HALF CENTROTATED REVERSEMIN BID 01 NO RESERVE

$43.75


1804 Crosslet 4 Stems Draped Bust Half Cent VF Circulated US Coin

$39.00


1833 Classic Head Half Cent Vintage US Copper Coin MC48 Very Rare Key Date

$8.05


1807 DRAPED BUST HALF CENT VF US COIN RARE

$17.50


1826 Classic Head Copper Half Cent 1 2C Circulated Free Shipping

$12.50


1853 Half Cent Braided Hair Choice Uncirculated Copper Free Shipping

$61.05

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




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