The Final Half Cents

November 1st, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

half-centAlthough it may seem odd at present times, the smallest denomination within the United States used to be the half cent. With the early days of the country such a denomination was necessary and everyday transactions were often conducted in the large copper composition half cents and cents. Both denominations had been authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792, with the denominations struck for the first time in the following year.

There were five basic types for the half cent with the designs roughly similar to their larger copper brothers. The Liberty Cap design facing left  was struck for just a single year in 1793 before the design was modified and the portrait faced left from 1794 to 1797. After a gap in production, the Draped Bust design was introduced and struck from 1800 to 1808, when mintage levels for the first time stretched above the one million mark.

The next design termed classic head began to see the decline in the denomination. After a first year mintage of one million, production levels declined as the small sized coins began to fall out of favor within circulation. The series concluded with small minages and a proof only issue.

The final series was known as the Draped Bust Half Cent and after the introduction of the design in 1840, the coins were not actually struck for circulation until 1849. For the first near decade, the coins were struck in proof format only in very limited quantities. Mintage levels for circulation remained modest and the series drew to a close in 1857. At this time, the large cent was replaced by the small cent and the half cent was officially discontinued.

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