Half Cent, Braided Hair, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

Half Cent, Braided Hair, Coin Type from United States (issued 1840 - 1857)
Coin TypeHalf Cent, Braided Hair

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 authorised 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).

The first design, known as the Liberty Cap, was issued from 1793 until 1797. Production of the half cent was temporarily suspended in 1797, then resumed in 1800 with the Draped Bust obverse, which had already been in use on the silver coinage for several years. These half cents were only issued until 1808 though, after which time this "Classic Head" design was issued until 1838.

This final Braided Hair obverse design by Christian Gobrecht was introduced on the half cent in 1840 and struck until 1857. It is a re-design of the "Matron Haid" obverse which had been used on the one cent denomination since 1816. The reverse was updated too, with a wider rim and a different wreath around the value. As with all other half cent types, the coins were produced exclusively by the Philadelphia Mint.

The denomination was discontinued by the Coinage Act of February 21, 1857. While withdrawn from circulation and not used any more, the coins were never officially demonetised though.

Obverse
United States / Half Cent, Braided Hair - obverse photo

The obverse of the coin shows, within a beaded border, the head of Liberty, facing left, with long braided hair tied back in a bun.

She wears a coronet or diadem, on which the inscription LIBERTY is in relief.

All around, thirteen six-pointed stars represent the first thirteen states that formed the United States.

Below, the date of issue: [year].

Obverse Inscription ************* [year]
Reverse
United States / Half Cent, Braided Hair - reverse photo

On two lines at its centre, the coin displays its value and denomination: HALF CENT, surrounded by an olive/laurel wreath.

Around, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Reverse Inscription HALF CENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
Coin Type: Half Cent, Braided Hair - (18) Coins
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Half Cent, Braided Hair: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Sub-type ofHalf Cent
From1840
To1857
Face Value1/2 (x Cent)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1857
MaterialCopper
DesignerChristian Gobrecht
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size23.500 mm
Mass5.440 g