UNITED STATES HALF CENTS
The United States minted
Half Cents intermittently between 1793 and 1857. While this unusual
denomination might seem useless today, it was an important part of our
monetary system back when working wages were $1 per 10-hour day.
The images at right show the
five major design types that appeared on U.S. Half Cents, plus a Half Cent
token issued privately in 1837.
The Liberty Cap Half Cent
came in two different versions: the Head
Left (issued in 1793 only) and the Head
Right (issued from 1794 to 1797). The 1793 Half Cent is a scarce
date and was one of the very first coins issued by the U.S. Mint.
The rarest date in the Liberty Cap series is the 1796.
No Half Cents were issued in
Bust design appeared from 1800 to 1808, but no Half Cents were struck
in 1801. The rarest date of this design type is the 1802,
all of which were struck on cut-down Large Cents.
Bust design appeared on Half Cents beginning in 1809 and ran through
1836. No Half Cents were issued between 1812 and 1824, mostly
because demand for the denomination was low and the Mint had difficulty
obtaining planchets. In 1825, Half Cent coinage resumed, with breaks
in 1827 and 1829. Rare dates of this type include 1831 and 1836,
both issued only as Proofs.
No Half Cents were issued by
the U.S. government between 1837 and 1839, but a privately issued token
appeared in 1837 to fill the void. This token claimed to be of the
same weight and value as a U.S. Half Cent and used images and styles
similar to those on actual U.S. coins of the period.
The final Half Cent design
type, the Braided
Hair, first appeared in 1840 and ran through 1857. Rare dates of
this type include the Proof-only issues of 1840-1848 and 1852.
In 1857, the Half Cent
denomination was discontinued forever.
The Half Cent series is full
of interesting and rare die varieties. Highlights include:
Reverse of 1800
1804 "Spiked Chin"
1804 Stemless Wrvveath
1805 Stemless Wreath
1806 Stemless Wreath
To learn more about U.S.
Half Cents, we recommend the following books:
"American Half Cents - Second Edition" by Roger S. Cohen, Jr.
Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793-1857" by
Walter Breen (purchase a copy by clicking on the title)