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 1799.
The Draped 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.
The Capped 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: