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).
This first design, known as the Liberty Cap, was issued from 1793 until 1797. It was among the first coins produced by the Philadelphia Mint, with the only other coins produced by the Mint in 1793 being the Chain, Wreath, and Liberty Cap large cents. The 1793 half cent was engraved by Henry Voigt, although it is not known if he was the original designer (Joseph Wright is often credited with the design); it had the symbolic portrait of Liberty on the reverse, facing left. Later issues have Liberty facing right, and were designed and engraved by Robert Scot.
Production of the half cent was temporarily suspended in 1797, then resumed in 1800 with a new design.
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 While withdrawn from circulation and not used any more, the coins were never officially demonetised though.