Half cent (United States coin)

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Half cent
United States
Value5 milles (0.5 cents or 0.005 US dollars)
Diameter23.5 mm
Thickness2 mm
Edge
  • lettered (1793, 1797)
  • plain (1794–1857)
  • gripped (1797)
Composition100% copper
Years of minting1793–1857
Obverse
1851 half cent obv.jpg
DesignLiberty with braided hair
DesignerChristian Gobrecht
Design date1840
Reverse
1851 half cent rev.jpg
DesignDenomination surrounded by a wreath
Design date1840
Design discontinued1840

The half cent is the smallest denomination of United States coin ever minted. It was first minted in 1793 and last minted in 1857. It was minted with five different designs.

History[edit]

First authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792 on April 2, 1792,[1] the coin was produced in the United States from 1793 to 1857. 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).[2] Coinage was discontinued by the Coinage Act of February 21, 1857. They were all produced at the Philadelphia Mint.

Design Varieties[edit]

Half Cent types
Liberty Cap (left)
Liberty Cap (right)
Draped Bust
Classic Head
Braided Hair

There are several different types of half cents:

There are no mint marks on any of the coins (all minted at the Philadelphia Mint) and the edges are plain on most half cents. On the 1793, 1794 and some 1795 coins and a variety of the 1797 coin, it was lettered TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR and another 1797 variety had a gripped, or milled, edge.

Mintage Figures[edit]

Liberty Cap, Left

  • 1793 - 35,334

Liberty Cap, Right

  • 1794 - 81,601
  • 1795 - 139,690
  • 1796 - 1,390
  • 1797 - 127,840

Draped Bust

  • 1800 - 202,908
  • 1802 - 20,266
  • 1803 - 92,000
  • 1804 - 1,055,312
  • 1805 - 814,464
  • 1806 - 356,000
  • 1807 - 476,000
  • 1808 - 400,000

Classic Head (Shown at top right)

  • 1809 - 1,154,572
  • 1810 - 215,000
  • 1811 - 63,140
  • 1825 - 63,000
  • 1826 - 234,000
  • 1828 - 606,000
  • 1829 - 487,000
  • 1831 - 2,200
  • 1832 - 51,000
  • 1833 - 103,000
  • 1834 - 141,000
  • 1835 - 398,000
  • 1836 - proof only, restrikes were made
  • 1837 - No half cents were struck by the United States government; however, due to the need for small change, half-cent tokens were produced by private businessmen.

Braided Hair

  • 1840 through 1849 were proof-only issues. There were restrikes made.
  • 1849 - 39,864
  • 1850 - 39,812
  • 1851 - 147,672
  • 1852 - proof only. Restrikes were made.
  • 1853 - 129,694
  • 1854 - 55,358
  • 1855 - 56,500
  • 1856 - 40,430
  • 1857 - 35,180

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitman The Official Guide Book 64th Edition 2011 page: #87
  2. ^ Whitman The Official Guide Book 64th Edition 2011 pages: #87, #89, #90, and #92
  • The Half Cent Die State Book 1793-1857 by Ronald P. Manley, Ph.D., 1998.
  • American Half Cents - The "Little Half Sisters" (Second Edition) by Roger S. Cohen, Jr., 1982.
  • Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793-1857 by Walter Breen, 1983.
  • The Half Cent, 1793-1857 The Story of American's Greatest Little Coin by William R. Eckberg, 2019