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United States Half Cents Information

1800 Draped Bust Half Cent
(click image for larger view)
________________________
1800 Draped Bust Half Cent

Half Cents, also known as the half penny, were one of the earliest United States coins (1793-1857).

They were first minted in 1793, just as George Washington was getting started on his second term as President of the United States.

Believe it or not, a long time ago, a coin worth half a penny could actually buy something worthwhile.

In those days, the average working man only earned about a dollar a day, so that made the Half Penny useful for day to day purchases.

I would imagine there would have been lots of items that could be purchased for half a penny if you only made a dollar a day in wages.

The United States half cent was authorized by the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, which approved all of the first federal denominations and established the United States Mint.

Though this act authorized the production of all denominations, the half penny was among the first to be produced for circulation because producing the larger silver and gold coins required that security bonds be posted.

The other authorized denominations were not minted until 1794 or 1795.

This interesting coin, only worth half a penny, is about the size of today's quarter and the series offers the collector several interesting varieties.


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1793 Liberty Cap
Half Cent
1793 Half Cent
Type Liberty Cap, Head Facing Left
Designer Undetermined: Probably Joseph Wright, Henry Voigt or Adam Eckfeldt
Years Minted 1793 only
Weight 6.74 grams
Composition 100% copper
Diameter approx. 22 mm
Edge Lettered: TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR
Mintage 35,334

The 1793 coin is a scarce date and was one of the very first coins issued by the United States.




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1794-1797 Liberty Cap
1794 Half Cent
Type Liberty Cap, Head Facing Right
Designer 1794 - Robert Scot
1795 - John Smith Gardner
engraved by Robert Scot
Years Minted 1794 - 1797
Weight 1794-1795 - 6.74 grams
1795-1797 - 5.44 grams
Composition 100% copper
Diameter approx. 23.5 mm
Edge 1794 - Lettered: TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR
1795-1797 - plain (some 1797 are either lettered or grippedGripped Edge
This is as a series of tiny indentations, or grip marks around the circumference of the coin.
)
Mintage 1794 - 81,600
1795 - 139,690
1796 - 1,390
1797 - 127,840

The 1796 half penny is the most valuable date.




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1800-1808 Draped Bust
1806 Draped Bust Half Cent
Type Draped Bust Half Cent
Designer obverse designed by Gilbert Stuart and Robert Scot
reverse designed by Scot-John Gardner
engraved by Robert Scot
Years Minted 1800-1808
Weight 5.44 grams
Composition 100% copper
Diameter approx. 23.5 mm
Edge plain
Mintage 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

It is believed that all 1802-dated half cents were struck from spoiled large cents. In other words, they made them from large cents that were rejected for one reason or another, probably due to some error. This makes it the rarest date of this design type.




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1809-1836 Classic Head
1835 Classic Head Half Cent
Type Classic Head Half Cent
Designer designed and engraved by John Reich
Years Minted 1809-1836
Weight 5.44 grams
Composition 100% copper
Diameter approx. 23.5 mm
Edge plain
Mintage 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 - (Proofs only) RestrikesRe-strike
This is a coin that is produced from genuine dies but at a date later than the original issue.
were made.




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1837 Half Cent Token
(not a coin)
1837 Half Cent Token

No half penny coins were issued by the U.S. mint between 1837 and 1839, however a tokenToken
These are privately-issued coin like pieces that usually have a redeemable value for goods or services. They are not an official government coin.
, privately issued by businessmen, appeared in 1837 because small change was desperately needed. This token was the same weight and value as a half penny and looked very similar to United States mint issues of the half cent.





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1840-1857 Braided Hair
1849 Braided Hair Half Cent
Type Coronet Head or Braided Hair Half Cent
Designer obverse designed by Robert Scot and Christian Gobrecht
reverse designed by John Reich and Christian Gobrecht
engraved by Christian Gobrecht
Years Minted 1840-1857
Weight 5.44 grams
Composition 100% copper
Diameter approx. 23 mm
Edge plain
Mintage 1840-1848 - (Proofs only) RestrikesRe-strike
This is a coin that is produced from genuine dies but at a date later than the original issue.
were made.
1849 - 39,864
1850 - 39,812
1851 - 147,672
1852 - (Proofs only) Restrikes were made.
1853 - 129,694
1854 - 55,358
1855 - 56,500
1856 - 40,430
1857 - 35,180

There are not any mint marks on half cents. They were all made at the Philadelphia Mint as it was the only mint in the United States at the time. And since there was only one mint, there were no need for mint marks.

All half penny coins are pretty scarce, but they are becoming pretty popular among collectors. Prices for common dates and varieties have remained at reasonable levels for many years.

Price Guides

PCGS Price guide for Half Cents.

Numismedia Fair Market Value Price guide for the Half Penny.

Also see Coin Values Discovery for grading images and value charts for your half penny.

In 1857, the Half Penny coin was discontinued forever. During its life span, these coins were needed desperately for everyday commerce, but eventually, the coin fell out of favor with the public.

Mint Director James Snowden reported in 1854 that "People will not take the trouble to make a cent with two pieces of money". What's more, higher copper prices and increased labor costs made the coin unpractical to mint.






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