The Half Farthing was a small circulating coin of the British pre-decimal Pound Sterling, equal to one eighth of a penny. There were 20 shillings to a pound, 12 pence to a shilling and 4 farthings to a penny, so 1,920 of these coins made up £1.
The denomination was initially produced for use in the colony of Ceylon only. It was made current for use in the United Kingdom by a proclamation on 13 June 1842 and remained so until demonetised along with the rest of the copper coinage after 31 December 1869.
There was much cynicism of the need for such a coin in Britain, with letters written to The Times, but the coin did indeed circulate widely in Britain and Ceylon. However, when the rest of the copper coinage was changed to bronze after 1860, the half farthing was not; the last circulation coins of the denomination were issued in 1856.
The obverse of the coin shows the young uncrowned effigy of Queen Victoria, facing left; the portrait is by William Wyon and is widely known as her "Young Head".
The Queen's hair is bound with a double fillet (ribbon) and collected into a knot behind.
Around, the monarch's legend: VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIAR: REGINA F : D:. Translated from Latin: Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
Within a beaded border, the reverse of the coin shows at its centre, on two lines, the value and denomination in words: HALF FARTHING.
Above that, St Edward's Crown. Named after Saint Edward the Confessor, it has been traditionally used to crown English and British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century (with a two-century gap between 1689 and 1911).
Below the denomination, the date 1856, under which a rose, a thistle and a shamrock combined - the floral symbols of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, respectively England, Scotland and Ireland.
||HALF FARTHING 1856
The 1856 coins were the last half farthings struck for circulation.
References to additional information:
[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. p11
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., p188