Half cent
United States
Value0.5 cents or 0.005 US dollars
Diameter23.5 mm
Thickness2 mm
  • lettered (1793, 1797)
  • plain (1794–1857)
  • gripped (1797)
Composition100% copper
Years of minting1793–1857
DesignLady Liberty with braided hair
DesignerChristian Gobrecht
Design date1840
DesignDenomination surrounded by a wreath
Design date1840
Design discontinued1857

The half cent was the smallest denomination of United States coin ever minted. It was first minted in 1793 and last minted in 1857. It was minted with five different designs.


First authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792 on April 2, 1792,[1] the coin was produced in the United States from 1793 to 1857. The half-cent piece was made of 100% copper and half of a cent, or one two-hundredth of a dollar (five milles). It was slightly smaller than a modern U.S. quarter with diameters 22 mm (1793), 23.5 mm (1794–1836), and 23 mm (1840–1857).[2] They were all produced at the Philadelphia Mint.

The Coinage Act of February 21, 1857 discontinued the half-cent and the similar large cent, and authorized the small cent (Flying Eagle cent).

Design varieties

Half cent types
Liberty Cap (facing left)
Liberty Cap (facing right)
Draped Bust
Classic Head
Braided Hair

There are several different types of half cents:

There are no mint marks on any of the coins (all minted at the Philadelphia Mint) and the edges are plain on most half cents. On the 1793, 1794, and some 1795 coins and a variety of the 1797 coin, it was lettered TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR and another 1797 variety had a gripped, or milled, edge.

Mintage figures

Liberty Cap, facing left

Liberty Cap, facing right

Draped Bust

Classic Head (Shown at top right)

Braided Hair

See also


  1. ^ Whitman The Official Guide Book 64th Edition 2011 page: #87
  2. ^ Whitman The Official Guide Book 64th Edition 2011 pages: #87, #89, #90, and #92