The half cent was America’s unwanted coin from its introduction in 1793 until its official demise in 1857. Over this 60 year span, few of the coins circulated freely, and then mainly in the larger cities of the rapidly expanding nation. Coin collectors long neglected the denomination. Little-sought and studied even less, the coins were aptly characterized by numismatist Dr. Warren A. Lapp as the stepchildren of U.S. coinage, the “little half sisters.”
First issued in 1793 with the Flowing Hair design, they were replaced the following year by Engraver Robert Scot’s Liberty Cap motif. They went through design, weight and edge-marking changes much like those of contemporary cents. The last Liberty Cap and Pole half cents bore the date 1797 but were probably struck through 1799.