The Silver Half Dollar's Blog

08 Aug 2019

The United States Half-Cent

Young Numismatists Exchange | The Silver Half Dollar

The United States Half-Cent

The United States half cent was the smallest denomination of United States coinage ever made. These coins were made from 1793 to 1857. Sanctioned by United States Congress on April 2 ,1792 as part of the Mint Act, these coins are known as some of the most iconic United States coins. While this coin was only worth 1/200th of a dollar, it was the size of a modern quarter! Half-cents have no mint marks as the only operating mint at the time was the Philadelphia mint.

The first US half cent was the Liberty Cap-Head Left design minted in 1793 in which Lady Liberty faced the left. It was designed by Robert Scot and had total mintages of approximately 35,000. This obverse is very similar to the Libertas Americana Medal which was issued in France to celebrate the United States' independence.

Next was the Liberty Cap-Facing Right, Large Head minted in 1794 in which Lady Liberty was portrayed facing to the right. It was once again designed by Robert Scot and had around 81,600 pieces minted.

Following that was the Liberty Cap-Facing Right, Small Head minted between 1795 and 1797. Liberty's head was reduced in size by John Smith Gardner and had a total mintage of about 257,070 pieces in the three years.

The Liberty Cap Half Cent was replaced by the Draped Bust Half Cent from 1800 to 1808 with the exception of 1801 when the mint made no half cents. Once again designed by Robert Scot, it had a total mintage of about 3,416,950 pieces.

The United States then produced the Classic Head Half Cent from 1809 to 1811 and 1825 to 1836, except for the years 1827 and 1830 in which no legal tender half cents were produced. Designed by John Reich, it had a total mintage of around 3,517,912 examples.

In 1837, the United States did not mint half cents, so many tokens were struck by businessmen to fulfill their needs. There are no mintage numbers available.

The United States produced their last half cents, the Braided Hair, between 1840 and 1857, designed by Christian Gobrecht. From 1840 through 1848, with the addition of the 1849 Small Date, only proof coins were struck, and mintage records were not available. From 1850 to 1857 and with the addition of the 1849 Large Date, 544,510 circulation coins were struck.

In total, the half cents were produced for 64 years. which includes years when none were made, and over 7,853,042 half cents were produced. The Coinage Act of February 21,1857 Chap. 56, 34th Cong, Sess. III, 11 Stat. 163 discontinued this amazing denomination as well as discontinuing the use of foreign coins as legal tender and decreasing the size of the cent.



Level 5

I love these "odd-denomination" coins.


Level 6

Informative blog. Thanks for your research!

nice summarization, but a bibliography would be nice..... On a side note, for those yn's who've read this, there is a half-cent in the live auction.


Level 6

A lot of good info there. Could you include a bibliography please. I would like to look it up. Thanks..


Level 7

Yes when we see a blog like this we want to know the book you got the information from. Because we're intrested. This way we all can get a good read. I like large cents if you have a point of reference I might get it from the library. If not don't worry. Just keep it up.!!!

It's Mokie

Level 6

Nice historical recap, what were your primary sources. Early American Coppers are a fascinating area with so so many varieties to collect even within a single year.

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