The United States one-cent coin (often called a penny, from the British coin of the same name) is a unit of currency equalling one-hundredth of a United States dollar. The cent's symbol is ¢. It has been the lowest-value physical unit of U.S. currency since the abolition of the half-cent in 1857.
The earliest one cent coins were large and made of copper; the United States Congress authorised coinage of one cent coins on January 14, 1793, with weight of 208 grains - smaller than the initially considered size of 264 grains, in which some patterns had been struck. With this act, the coinage of copper could begin on a regular basis. Before production started, the specifications were altered again, to 168 grains (13.48 g).
The first type of American one cent coin was only struck from 1st March to 12 March 1793, at which point the newly established Philadelphia Mint ran out of planchets. The coins were delivered to local banks for distribution and were imediately met with a negative raction by the population. The main motif on the reverse, being an interlocking chain with fifteen links representing the fifteen American states in existence at that time, was taken to be "a bad omen for liberty", while the representation of Liberty herself on the obverse "appeared to show her in a fright".
Confronted with this criticism, mint official stopped the production of coins of this type and in due course released another (also short-lived) version, with a wreath reverse and an improved Liberty head on the obverse. This second type of American one cent coin was only struck from 4th April to 17th July 1793. The new reverse featuring a wreath motif improved the situation, but the Flowing Hair obverse was still not accepted well so the mint had to discontinue this type too, and update the obverse later in the year.
Few of these coins survive - maybe a 1,000 of the Chain type, and 2,400 to 2,800 of the Wreath type.
The large copper format of the one cent denomination was discontinued by the Coinage Act of February 21, 1857 and was replaced by a smaller bronze coin. While withdrawn from circulation and not used any more, these coins have never been officially demonetised though.