Half Cent, Liberty Cap, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

Half Cent, Liberty Cap, Coin Type from United States (issued 1793 - 1797)
Coin TypeHalf Cent, Liberty Cap

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 While withdrawn from circulation and not used any more, the coins were never officially demonetised though.

Obverse
United States / Half Cent, Liberty Cap - obverse photo

The obverse of the coin shows, within a beaded border, the head of Liberty, facing right, with flowing long hair tied with a ribbon. Behind her, a pole with a Phrygian Cap - a symbol of liberty dating back to Ancient Rome where such caps were worn by emancipated ex-slaves.

Around above, LIBERTY.

Around below, the date of issue: [year].

Obverse Inscription LIBERTY [year]
Reverse
United States / Half Cent, Liberty Cap - reverse photo

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

Below the ribbon tying the wreath, the value of the coin expressed as a fraction of the dollar: 1/200.

Around, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Reverse Inscription HALF CENT 1/200 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
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Half Cent, Liberty Cap: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Sub-type ofHalf Cent
From1793
To1797
Face Value1/2 (x Cent)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1857
MaterialCopper
DesignerHenry Voigt, Robert Scot
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size23.500 mm
Mass