Half Cents - Chapter ImageOverview of Half Cents

  • Half Cents - Obverse Image
  • Half Cents - Reverse Image

Half Cents: Design Types

Building a type set of the six different major designs in the half cent series can be a challenging and rewarding pursuit. The first design, with Liberty Head facing left with pole and cap, minted only in 1793, is scarce in all grades and will be the most difficult to locate. However, hundreds exist of this American classic, and many are fairly attractive.

The second type, with a large Liberty Head facing right with pole and cap, made only in 1794, is scarce with good eye appeal. Most are dark and rough. The next type, the small Liberty Head facing right, with pole and cap, is scarce, but enough are on the market that a collector can find a specimen without difficulty.

The Draped Bust half cents, struck from 1800 to 1808, are easily available as a type, including in higher grades. The Classic Head (1809–1836) and Braided Hair (1840–1857) are plentiful as types.

For the earlier half cent types there is ample opportunity for connoisseurship, for quality often varies widely, and every coin is apt to have a different appearance and “personality,” even within the same grade.

Recommended Reading

  • Fivaz, Bill, and Stanton, J.T. The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties (5th ed., vol. II), Atlanta, GA, 2009.
  • Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793–1857, South Gate, CA, 1983.
  • Cohen, Roger S., Jr. American Half Cents—The “Little Half Sisters” (2nd ed.), 1982.
  • Manley, Ronald P. The Half Cent Die State Book, 1793–1857, United States, 1998.
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