Half Cent, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

Half Cent, Coin Type from United States (issued 1793 - 1857)
Coin TypeHalf Cent

The half cent is the smallest denomination of United States coin ever minted. It was first minted in 1793 and last minted in 1857. During its existence, it was minted with five different designs.

First authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792 on April 2, 1792, the half-cent piece was made of 100% copper and was valued at five milles, or one two-hundredth of a dollar. It was slightly smaller than a modern U.S. quarter with diameters 22 mm (1793), 23.5 mm (1794-1836) and 23 mm (1840-1857).

Its coinage was discontinued by the Coinage Act of February 21, 1857. All of the coins were produced by the Philadelphia Mint; there is no mint mark on any of them.

While discontinued and not used any more, the coins were never officially demonetised.

Obverse

In 1973 only, the obverse of the half cent featured a bust of the female personification of Liberty facing left, with flowing hair and a Liberty cap on a pole behind her.

In 1794, the design was flipped so that Liberty faced right. This was used until 1797.

After a two-year pause, a new design was minted between 1800 and 1808 featuring the so-called Draped Bust of Liberty, by Robert Scot, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

A fourth design was used between 1809 and 1837, known as the Classic Head. It was sculpted by engraver John Reich, whose version was used on copper coinage; a later re-design by Chief Engraver William Kneass was used on gold coins between 1834 and 1839.

The fifth and final obverse - issued from 1840 to 1857 - was the so-called Braided Hair effigy of Liberty and was designed by Christian Gobrecht, who improved on an earlier model (used for one cent coins) by Robert Scot.

Obverse Inscription
Reverse

The first reverse (1794 - 1808) has the denomination HALF CENT centrally on two lines, within a laurel wreath; beneath the wreath, the value is also shown as a fraction of a dollar: 1/200. Along the outer edge, the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. There is a decorative beaded border along the rim of the coin.

The second reverse (1809 - 1857) has a re-designed laurel wreath and omits the fractional value.

Reverse InscriptionHALF CENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Edge
Edge Inscription
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Half Cent: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
From1793
To1857
Face Value1/2 (x Cent)
CurrentNo
MaterialCopper
Designer
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size (mm)
Mass (g)
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