Featured The underrated US Half Cent...

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by ewomack, Jun 7, 2021.

  1. ewomack

    ewomack 魚の下着

    Does no one like half cents? I ask this only because, given their relatively tiny mintages and pretty obvious rarity, good examples don't seem particularly difficult to find. The Red Book has said that "all half cents are scarce" for years, but does anybody care? It doesn't seem to really impact their value immensely.

    I have begun reading Bill Eckberg's fantastic book The Half Cent, 1793-1857: The Story of America's Greatest Little Coin and have found myself far more interested in the half cents that I already have around. None of the examples shown below broke the bank (depending on one's budget, of course), but when I looked at the mintages and the number of estimated survivors from Eckberg's book, I became stunned that these little things with the fractured denomination have not caught on more. Maybe they have but with a relatively small group of collectors?

    Whatever the case, I'm starting to become slightly obsessed with them, though I highly doubt that I will ever shell out the many dollars required to obtain a decent 18th century example. Eckberg's book elucidates a lot and provides updates to the older, but still useful, Breen book and the even older Cohen book. Half cents, similar to the "makeup stamps" from a number of years ago, were created mostly to make change because the monetary system at the time sometimes ended up creating a 1/2 cent difference. They had the purchasing power of approximately a quarter today. The mint apparently found them annoying to make and only some 8 million total were minted through their entire run, many of which went into melting pots after 1857. Some of the most common half cents remain rarer than many far more expensive key dates of other series. But, does it matter? They seem to be a bargain, but their prices have remained fairly stable, and generally affordable, over time.

    I have a small and modest type set, but without any 18th century examples. A single example from 1800 - 1802 (the "Draped Bust with hand engraved reverse") will complete a 19th century type set. We'll see where fate leads, I guess.

    Draped Bust
    1806 C-1 (reverse G of 1804)
    NGC VF30 BN
    Mintage: 356,000
    Estimated Survivors: 5000+

    Classic Head
    1828_HalfCent_01.png 1828_HalfCent_02.png
    1828 C-1 13 star (Reverse B of 1826) - I finally re-photographed this one
    NGC AU 53 BN
    Mintage: 606,000
    Estimated Survivors: 4,300
    The two almost perpendicular lines on the obverse are reflections from slab scratches

    Braided Hair

    1851 C-1
    NGC AU 58 BN
    Mintage: 147,672
    Estimated Survivors: 5,600

    1854 C-1
    NGC AU 55 BN
    Mintage: 55,358
    Estimated Survivors: 2,600
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  3. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    I fell in love with half cents after buying Breen's Encyclopedia of Half Cents. Breen's book makes half cent collecting so much fun. I have a complete 1804 die pair set. My favorite is what I call the "Frankenstein" half cent...Cohen-5. I only have a few pre-1800 examples and no proofs. :(

    I love your 1828 C-1.

    I forgot to mention my favorite eBay find. I bought a beautiful (raw) uncirculated 1833 example of die state #7...heavy clash marks with AMERI[CA] easily seen behind the head. Breen says die state #7 is "extremely rare". Although, if I found one, I doubt they're really all that rare.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
    Scott J, NSP, Cheech9712 and 7 others like this.
  4. Timewarp

    Timewarp Intrepid Traveler

    My oldest coin with a metal detector is a 1809 half cent. At first glance I thought I had a token. Suprised the heck out of me!
  5. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated Supporter

    Oh great. Another coin I didn't know I needed until now. ;)
    Nice post on a neat little historical artifact, the half cent.

    I do need one for my half-hearted attempt at a U.S. type set that never seems to get attention.
  6. AuldFartte

    AuldFartte Well-Known Member

    Ron Manley's excellent book Half Cent Die States 1793-1857 is a must-have if you collect these little beauties. I believe most early copper collectors tend to turn their focus to Large Cents due to the sheer number of varieties available, thus pretty much ignoring Half Cents. The value stability is puzzling to me because, as you indicated, these coins are pretty rare.
  7. USS656

    USS656 Here to Learn Supporter

    I like them too but only have a few. I think this is the nicest and it is too bad about the hit in the neck, otherwise a really nice coin. Not to bad thought for a 170 year old coin. :)

  8. ewomack

    ewomack 魚の下着

    The Eckberg book, published in 2019, claims that the Breen book, published in 1983, contains mistakes and lacked access to quite a bit of information available now. It does say that Breen still remains worth reading, but mostly for the historical information. I'm also hoping to read Breen at some point soon.

    That said, Eckberg's book doesn't catalog die states, but it says that 1833 only has a single variety, referenced by 1-A, C-1, B-1, with a reported mintage of 154,000, but some research suggests a number closer to 184,000. With about 4,600 survivors estimated, it's still a rare enough coin, despite die state.

    On die states, Eckberg's book says that Ron Manley's The Half Cent Die State Book 1793-1857 from 1998 "has stood the test of time over the past 20+ years and has supplanted Breen's die state information." So perhaps Manley could tell you more about the rarity of the 1833 die state #7?
  9. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Derp, derp, derp!

    Agree that this is an interesting and fun series.

    My oldest coin happens to be a half cent that I bought raw at a local coin show a couple of years ago...

    0.5C 1807.png
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
    Eric the Red, Scott J, NSP and 10 others like this.
  10. Beefer518

    Beefer518 Well-Known Member

    I was just saying to myself the other day that I didn't have any half cents. I focus primarily on early silver commemoratives, which is another one of the red-headed stepchildren of American coin series.

    i have an essentially complete LC collection (missing '04 & '09), and it makes sense (cents?) to me to also get something going with half cents.

    I think maybe I'll look for my first one at Summer FUN.
    Jim Dale, Scott J, NSP and 4 others like this.
  11. OldSilverDollar

    OldSilverDollar Unknown Member Supporter

    Amazing you could buy things years ago with just a half cent.
    siddo1, Scott J, NSP and 2 others like this.
  12. mrweaseluv

    mrweaseluv Supporter! Supporter

    I have only 2 or 3 1/2 cents.. they a bit more scare then LCs so hard to plan a set :D
    Scott J, ewomack and OldSilverDollar like this.
  13. Antonius Britannia

    Antonius Britannia Well-Known Member

    Simply cannot have a thread of US half cents without a cap and pole. Here is the eldest of my "Little Sisters"!

    1794 US Half Cent
    NGC VF details (Scratch)
    Montage 90,000
    0610210033.jpg 0610210040e.jpg
  14. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated Supporter

    Lovely coin. For the longest time, I thought that was a bow in Liberty's hair. o_O Fortunately, I got ̶s̶m̶a̶r̶t̶e̶r̶ educated later.:)
  15. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    ...especially when we can't buy anything for a Quarter now.
  16. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    You mean the Phrygian cap?
  17. RonSanderson

    RonSanderson Supporter! Supporter

    I just have the two for my type set. I was very happy to get them in this condition. 0.5c 1835 full 15.JPG 0.5c 1855 full 05.JPG
    Eric the Red, wxcoin, Scott J and 8 others like this.
  18. Larry49

    Larry49 Active Member

    Half cents are wonderful. There is a Facebook group that welcomes new members:
    I have managed to assemble a decent run of all the dates except 1793 and 1796 (permanently out of reach). Here is one of them. 1806 Half Cent obv.jpg 1806 Half Cent rev.jpg
  19. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated Supporter

    Yes, precisely.
    Antonius Britannia likes this.
  20. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    My first and only half cent.
    B5BADAB2-2CA0-43C0-965C-BBB812E1C6A0.jpeg 93F61E0F-EDFF-4555-AB8D-EADD9A873982.jpeg
  21. halfcent1793

    halfcent1793 Well-Known Member

    I'm always happy to see half cents get love here. They are most definitely fascinating, historical and rare. And generally affordable.
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