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The Silver Half Dollar's Blog

09 Aug 2020

Half Cents- A Brief History

Coins | The Silver Half Dollar

(Image From JM Bullion)

The United States Half Cent was issued from 1793 until 1857. The first design for it was made by Henry Voigt, featuring Liberty with her hair either being loosely held by a small cap or a large bow, depending on who you ask. The reverse either had a ring of chains or a wreath along with the face value.

In 1794, the coin was altered by Joseph Wright to have a more extravagant wreath on the reverse, and the obverse had Lady Liberty with a Phrygian Cap, which symbolized freedom.

A Phrygian cap was a hat that was made of soft felt or wool, originating in Phrygia in Anatolia, an ancient part of Turkey.

In 1796, the half cent was changed to the Draped Bust design, where Liberty looked more mature and had luxurious garments on her, which is why the coin is called the Draped Bust design. The reverse featured an olive wreath.

In 1808 John Reich made the Classic Head Design and featured a Liberty facing left and wearing a hat thought to be similar to a crown. In addition, they used a new copper which was more durable.

In 1816, Robert Scot redesigned the Half-Cent, featuring a more mature looking Lady Liberty, and known as the Coronet Cent.

In 1835, Christian Gobrecht decided to make Lady Liberty look younger and put her hair into a braid. This design lasted until the half cent was discontinued.

From 1793 until part of 1795, the half cent weighed 6.74 grams, and from the rest of 1795 until 1857 weighed 5.44 grams.

The 1793 Half Cent had a diameter of around 22mm, and the rest of the half cents had a diameter around 23.5mm.

All of the Half Cents were made of pure copper, or at least however pure the technology of the time could create.

The 1793 and 1734 Half cents were lettered on the edge with the words: TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR. Half cents from 1794 until 1797 were struck with a plain edge, lettered edge, and gripped edge. From 1798-1857 they had a plain edge.

Due to the abundance of items with a half cent as part of its price, the half cent was a necessary part of commerce that due to inflation, later became next to worthless.

The Half Cent was discontinued by the Coinage Act of February 21, 1857.

The key dates of Half Cents were 1793; 1796, No Pole; 1802/0, Reverse of 1800; and 1831.

There were no half cents issued in 1815.

In 1912, Ohio Representative Bullkley introduced a bill that proposed the creation of a new half cent and a new three-cent piece. This bill passed the House on the 6th of May 1912, but did not pass in the Senate.

Sources:

https://www.coinworld.com/numismatic/collector-basics/about-u-s--coins---half-cent-.html

https://www.jmbullion.com/coin-info/cents/half-cents/

https://www.pcgs.com/coinfacts/category/half-cents/3

https://www.coin-collecting-guide-for-beginners.com/half-cents.html

https://www.apmex.com/half-cents

https://stacksbowers.com/News/Pages/Blogs.aspx?ArticleID=giles%2Dmorris%2Dcollection

https://www.britannica.com/art/Phrygian-cap

Comments

CopperCollector

Level 4

Nice article. I don't see as many about the early coppers. Just one error the 1793 half cent didn't have the chain reverse just the last be cent.

TheNumisMaster

Level 5

Hey, could you drop me a follow so I can send you a message? -NM

TheNumisMaster

Level 5

Love the informative blog! Keep up the good work... Cheers, NM

Longstrider

Level 6

Well done. I love these old "odd" denomination coins. Very well sourced. I like that. Thank you.

Thank you for the comment!

Rock Hound

Level 4

Nice Blog, did very good. Nice history.

Thank You for the comment!

Mike

Level 7

Enjoyed it very much. Thanks

Thank You for the comment!

It's Mokie

Level 6

A very concise history, Thank You for your research.

Thank you for the comment!

They command such a premium compared to other denominations. They bond colonial American history, large coins, and odd denominations all together in one

They really do bond them all together. Thank you!

Golfer

Level 5

Nice blog. Amazing that the half cent was around for so many years, so long ago.

It really is amazing with the long life of such a small denomination

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Very well done article!

Thank you

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