US Half Cent Coin
The US Half Cent Coins, together with the US Large Cent Coins, is the first Federal Issue coins of the United States of America. They were both released in the year 1793 and both taken out of circulation in 1857 with the coming of the much smaller and more economical Flying Eagle coins. This half-cent piece bore the same Liberty designs as the US Large Cent did. However, it only used five of the seven designs of the Large Cent: The Liberty Cap, Left in 1793, as designed by Henry Voigt; the Liberty Cap, Right from 1794 to 1797 by Robert Scot; the Draped Bust Cent from 1800 to 1808 by Gilbert Stuart, Robert Scot and Scot-John Gardner; the Classic Head Cent from 1809 to 1836, by John Reich; and the Braided Hair Cent from 1840 to 1857, by Christian Gobrecht.
Like the US Large Cent, all Half Cent coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint and they did not bear mintmarks on them. The very first coins were struck on the 2nd of April 1792 but were not released until 1793, coinciding with President George Washington’s second term in office. It was a time when American workers normally earn one cent a day; and a time when half-cent can still buy a lot of things for a lot of people.
The coins were made from 100% copper and their diameter ranging from 22 mm to 23 mm while their weight varied from 5.4 grams to almost 7 grams. The Half Cent coin is relatively smaller than the Large Cent but still huge for its small denomination and yes, it is still clunky and chunky in the pocket. That is why people never really liked it much. They actually disliked it because it bore the same Liberty images as the Large Cent. The Half Cent coins share the public’s outrage against the rather crude depiction of Lady Liberty. The people thought that Lady Liberty was not given justice in that rather unflattering wild hair, or that matron look. The Half Cent coins were phased out of circulation because of the criticisms from the public and because production proved to be costly with the rise in the price of copper and an increase in labor wages.
Ironically though, this same unpopularity is the reason why the Half Cent is popular among coin collectors of today. Because it’s controversial, it is deemed worth adding to one’s collection. History of the coin is always a selling factor for a numismatist. The more colorful the history, the more interesting the coin, hence the more people are interested in it.