Half Dime, Capped Bust, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

Half Dime, Capped Bust, Coin Type from United States (issued 1829 - 1837)
Coin TypeHalf Dime, Capped Bust

The Half Dime is an American silver coin with a face value of five cents which was minted between 1794 and 1873. These coins were much smaller than dimes in diameter and thickness, appearing to be "half dimes" and are called so, even though until 1837 this was not actually spelled out on the coins themselves.

After the initial issue of a "Half Disme" in 1794 (note the additional S in the name) - which many people consider a pattern, the "Flowing Hair" type was only struck for two years and was replaced by the "Draped Bust" half dime; it had two different reverses, a "small eagle" and then the "heraldic eagle", but was short-lived too and was only struck until 1805.

After that, no half dimes were struck at all until 1829 when the denomination was resumed with this Capped Bust obverse and a new eagle reverse. The obverse design - common for the half dime, dime, quarter and half dollar of the time - shows a new concept of the portrait of Liberty where she wears a soft cap; it was designed by John Reich and modified by Chief Engraver of the Mint, William Kneass. It proved to be a popular design and lasted from 1807 to 1839 on the half dollar, 1815 to 1838 on the quarter, 1809 to 1837 on the dime, and 1829 to 1837 on the half dime. All four of these coin were struck in 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper. After 1837, the type was replaced by the Seated Liberty design.

The silver format of the half dime was discontinued in 1873, but the coins have never been demonetised and are still legal tender. This, of course, is of academic interest only, as their numismatic value is enormously higher than their face value.

United States / Half Dime, Capped Bust - obverse photo

The obverse of the coin shows a portrait of Liberty facing to the left; her hair is covered by a cloth cap secured by a band inscribed LIBERTY, with tresses flowing down to her shoulder. Her neckline is draped with a gown, secured with a brooch at the shoulder.

Around the rim, thirteen stars (seven to the left and six to the right) representing the original 13 states.

Below the portrait, the date of issue: [year].

The rim is beaded.

Obverse Inscription ************* [year]
United States / Half Dime, Capped Bust - reverse photo

The main device on the reverse is an eagle, perched, with open wings, looking to left. On its breast, the Union Shield at centre, with thirteen vertical stripes, white and red, with a blue horizontal bar on top. The colours are represented by heraldic hatching (thin lines indicating the colour - horizontal stripes for blue, vertical for red, no stripes for white). From the eagle's perspective, it holds a bundle of three arrows in its left talon, and an olive branch in its right talon.

The arrows and olive branch together symbolise that the United States has "a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war". The eagle has its head turned towards the olive branch, to symbolise a preference for peace.

Around above, a scroll inscribed with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM ("Out of Many, One").

Around the outer rim, the name of the country: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Below the eagle, the abbreviated value and denomination 5 C. (Five Cents).

The rim is beaded.

EdgeMilledEdge InscriptionNone

In some online catalogues, the denomination is cryptically abbreviated as "H10C", from "half 10-cent", or "half dime"...

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Half Dime, Capped Bust: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Sub-type ofFive Cents
Face Value5 (x Cent)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1873
Material0.892 Silver
DesignerJohn Reich, William Kneass
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size15.5000 mm
Thickness1.9500 mm
Mass1.3500 g