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Half Cent - Classic Head (1809-1836)

Specifications, Details and General Information

By , About.com Guide

Half Cent - Classic Head 1809-1836 Obverse  Half Cent - Classic Head 1809-1836 Reverse 
Obverse  Reverse 
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Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries,
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Background and History

For the Classic Head half cent, the first year of production in 1809 saw the largest mintage for the entire series with a little over one million pieces. While the reverse of the coin remained relatively the same from the previous Draped Bust issue (the fraction at the bottom of the wreath was eliminated), the obverse was totally redesigned and engraved by John Reich. Reich created a new image of Miss Liberty with her curly hair fastened with the headband displaying the word "LIBERTY". A number of proof coins were produced during the series but the Mint did not keep accurate records of how many were actually minted for collectors.

Coin Values and Prices:

Detailed Specifications

Issuing Government United States of America
Denomination $0.005 (Half Cent)
Coinage Type  Classic Head  
Mintage Dates  1809-1836 
Production Facilities  Philadelphia 
Mint Mark Location   No mint marks were used in this series.
Composition  100% Copper 
Weight  5.443 grams
Weight Tolerance (+/-)   n.a. 
Actual Gold Weight  (AGW)  0.0000 Troy Ounces  
Actual Silver Weight  (ASW)  0.0000 Troy Ounces  
Actual Platinum Weight  (APW)  0.0000 Troy Ounces  
Specific Gravity  8.920 
Diameter 23.50 mm 
Thickness  2.00 mm 
Edge Type Plain 
Obverse Description  Miss Liberty facing left, hair in curls, close to head, and tied with band inscribed LIBERTY. Seven stars are to herleft and six to the right. The date is at bottom. 
Obverse Designer  John Reich 
Reverse Description  Wreath tied at the bottom with a bow, HALF CENT in the center, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the border. 
Reverse Designer  John Reich 
KM# (Krause-Mishler Catalog No.)  41 
Notes   

Production Years, Mints and Types

The Clasic Head half cent was produced as shown in the table below.  This table shows the years, strike type, mint facility where it was made, the mint mark used and a description of any type differences in coins minted for that year.

Year Mint Mint Mark Type
1809 Philadelphia
1810 Philadelphia
1811 Philadelphia
1825 Philadelphia
1826 Philadelphia
1828 Philadelphia 12 Stars
1828 Philadelphia 13 Stars
1829 Philadelphia
1831 Philadelphia
1831 Proof Philadelphia
1832 Philadelphia
1832 Proof Philadelphia
1833 Philadelphia
1833 Proof Philadelphia
1834 Philadelphia
1834 Proof Philadelphia
1835 Philadelphia
1835 Proof Philadelphia
1836 Proof Philadelphia

Errors and Varieties

The following are popular errors and varieties that Clasic Head half cent collectors look for. These coins usually carry a premium and are valued above a common coin. This is not an all inclusive list of every minor die variety and error.

Year Mint Mint Mark Error/Variety Notes/Description
1809 Philadelphia 9 over 6 Numeral 9 was repunched over an inverted 9.
1809 Philadelphia Circle Inside 0 Large 0 punched over small 0

Mintage Figures

The following table lists mint production numbers for the number of Clasic Head half cents minted at each facility. Where possible, production numbers by strike type are noted.

Year Mint Mint Mark Mintage Notes 
1809 Philadelphia 1,154,572
1810 Philadelphia 215,000
1811 Philadelphia 63,140 Counterfiets exist that were struck outside the US Mint using discarded dies from the mint. Most counterfeits were mismatched with the reverse dies.
1825 Philadelphia 63,000
1826 Philadelphia 234,000
1828 Philadelphia 606,000
1829 Philadelphia 487,000
1831 Philadelphia 2,200 Originally struck in both proof and business strikes, and the proofs were restruck for collectors at a later date.
1832 Philadelphia 154,000 Exact mintage figures were originally misplaced, these are taken from a later mint report.
1833 Philadelphia 120,000 Exact mintage figures were originally misplaced, these are taken from a later mint report.
1834 Philadelphia 141,000 Exact mintage figures were originally misplaced, these are taken from a later mint report.
1835 Philadelphia 398,000 Exact mintage figures were originally misplaced, these are taken from a later mint report.
1836 Proof Philadelphia 0 Originally struck in proof only, restruck for collectors at a later date.

Note: Proof coins are known to have been struck for this series in various years, but the U.S. Mint did not keep records of how many (if at all) proof coins were produced.

Suggested Books on Drapped Bust Half Cent

  • Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents, 1793-1857; Walter Breen; Publisher: American Institute of Numismatic Research; First Printing edition (1983)
  • American Half Cents: the "Little Half Sisters"; Roger S Cohen; Publisher: Wigglesworth & Ghatt Co. (1982)
  • The Half Cent Die State Book 1793-1857; Ronald P. Manley, J.R. Grellman Jr.; Publisher: pub. By author; 1ST edition (1998)
  • Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins; Walter Breen; Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (May 1, 1988); ISBN-13: 978-0385142076
  • The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 1; Fivaz, Bill and J.T. Stanton; Publisher: Whitman Publishing, Atlanta (2009); ISBN-13: 978-0794822859
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