CC's Blog

27 May 2022

History of U.S. Half Cents

Coins | CC

U.S. Half Cents

The half cents of early America are extremely interesting, and a wide variety of them exist. The first official half cents were minted in 1793 at the Philadelphia mint, and only 35,334 of them were minted. On the obverse is the bust of Lady Liberty facing left, the word liberty, and the date 1793. On the reverse, the words "half cent" are inside a wreath in the center and the fraction 1/200 is featured below. The inscription "United States of America" is around the wreath. The next variety was from 1794-1797, and slightly modified Liberty's portrait, along with changing the bust to face right. There was also a lettered edge in 1795 and 1797, with the wording "TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR." In 1800, another major change was made to the design, creating the widely popularized "Draped Bust" design. There are two different types of wreath reverses on this design, which ran from 1796-1807. The draped bust half cents are very sought after in high conditions, and all are highly esteemed by collectors. The next change was made in 1809, forming the "classic head" design. They were coined from 1809-1836, and the design changed drastically from the Draped Bust. The Classic Head design had a new bust facing left, and thirteen stars going along its sides, with the date at the bottom. The word "Liberty" was removed from the top. On the reverse, there was a new wreath, and the denomination (1/200) was removed from under the wreath. This design is one of the easier to obtain for a half cent type set. From 1837-1839 no half cents were minted, but there was a great need for small change, so private businessmen struck a large number of tokens that they needed to use in commerce. Thousands of half cent tokens were issued in 1837, with the nation's eagle seal and the inscription "U.S. standard weight value 1837" on the obverse, and a wreath with 13 stars surrounding it, and the words "half cent worth of" along with "pure copper" underneath the wreath. They are valued at about $45 in G-4 condition by the U.S. 2020 Red Book. The last type of large cent is the common Braided Hair from 1840-1857, with a new bust and from 1840-1849, original and restrike proofs were made. From 1849-1857, common circulation strike half cents were made. As you can see, the half cents of early America were a very important part of our nation's coinage, and are also enjoyable to have in your collection!!

Sources: The Red Book 😃



Level 6

Nicely done. Great "obsolete" coins. Bibliography? Thanks.


Level 7

Good blog. Were did you find this information I would like to read more!!

Long Beard

Level 5

A pleasure reading blogs on the obsolete coinage. Well done!


Level 4

Nice blog! Before this I didn't know very much about half cents. Thanks for the great blog!


Level 5

Good blog. I can tell you did great research. Thanks!

AC coin$

Level 6

Great blog . Good coins collections. Thanks for sharing .


Level 6

Good informative blog! Thanks for all your research and the photos! ; )

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