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Half Cent - Braided Hair (1840-1857)

Specifications, Details and General Information

By , About.com Guide

Braided Hair Half Cent Obverse  Braided Hair Half Cent 1840-1857 Reverse 
Obverse  Reverse 
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Background and History

No half cent coins were minted between 1811 in 1825 because there was no commercial demand for them. The mint used existing stockpiles to fill commercial orders. Production of Classic Head half cents began again in 1825 but gradually trailed off until 1835 with a small peak of 398,000 coins.  It was common practice in the mid-1800s for the United States to give visiting dignitaries proof sets of our most current coins. Mint Director Robert Paterson tasked engraver Christian Gobrecht to create dies especially for this purpose.  Although commercial demand for the half cent was relatively nonexistent, a new design for the half cent was created in 1840 and dies were prepared.  Most production centered on minting proof specimens however, small quantities of business strike coins were produced starting in 1849 and continuing through 1857. In the 1850s, coin collecting began to become a popular hobby in the United States. Some unscrupulous mint employees retrieved the old dies and began to "restrike" proof half cents for collectors. When Mint Director James Ross Snowden discovered this practice, he confiscated all the dies and locked them in the mint's vaults. The half cent denomination was officially retired in 1857.

Coin Values and Prices:

Detailed Specifications

Issuing Government United States of America
Denomination $0.005 (Half Cent)
Coinage Type  Braided Hair
Mintage Dates  1840-1857
Production Facilities  Philadelphia
Mint Mark Location   No mint marks were used in this series.
Composition  100% Copper
Weight   5.443 grams
Weight Tolerance (+/-)  0.227 grams 
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   n.a. 
Edge Type Plain
Obverse Description  Miss Liberty facing left, hair in a bun tied with two beaded cords, and LIBERTY on a diadem or coronet. Curls of hair hang down to her neck. Obverse border of 13 stars and the date at bottom.
Obverse Designer  Christian Gobrecht
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  Christian Gobrecht
KM# (Krause-Mishler Catalog No.)  70
Notes   

Production Years, Mints and Types

The Braided Hair half cent was minted as indicated in the following table.  The table lists the years, strike type, mint facility where made, the mint mark used on the coin and a description of any type differences in coins minted for that year. Many coins were restruck in later years using the original obverse dies and reverse dies that were not original. This enables the collector to discern which specimens are re-strikes and which are original.

Year Mint Mint Mark Type
1840 Proof Philadelphia
1840 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1841 Proof Philadelphia
1841 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1842 Proof Philadelphia
1842 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1843 Proof Philadelphia
1843 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1844 Proof Philadelphia
1844 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1845 Proof Philadelphia
1845 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1846 Proof Philadelphia
1846 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1847 Proof Philadelphia
1847 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1848 Proof Philadelphia
1848 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1849 Philadelphia Lg. Date
1849 Proof Philadelphia Lg. Date
1849 Proof Philadelphia Sm. Date
1849 Proof Philadelphia Sm. Date Restrike
1850 Philadelphia
1850 Proof Philadelphia
1851 Philadelphia
1852 Proof Philadelphia Restrike
1853 Philadelphia
1854 Philadelphia
1855 Philadelphia
1855 Proof Philadelphia
1856 Philadelphia
1856 Proof Philadelphia
1857 Philadelphia
1857 Proof Philadelphia

Errors and Varieties

The following are popular errors and varieties that Braided Hair half cent collectors look for. These coins usually carry a premium and are valued above a common coin.

Year Mint Mint Mark Error/Variety Notes/Description
None.  Any future discoveries will be posted here.

Mintage Figures

The following table lists the numbers of coins produced (if known) for the Braided Hair half cent taking into consideration the strike type in minting facility. Where possible, production numbers by strike type are noted.

Year Mint Mint Mark Mintage Notes
1840 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1841 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1842 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1843 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1844 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1845 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1846 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1847 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1848 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1849 Philadelphia 43,364
1850 Philadelphia 39,812
1851 Philadelphia 147,672
1852 Proof Philadelphia - Restuck in proof only for collectors. No mintage records were kept.
1853 Philadelphia 129,694
1854 Philadelphia 55,358
1855 Philadelphia 56,500
1855 Proof Philadelphia - Proofs were restruck in later years in an unkown quantity.
1856 Philadelphia 40,430
1856 Proof Philadelphia - Proofs were restruck in later years in an unkown quantity.
1857 Philadelphia 35,180
1857 Proof Philadelphia - Proofs were restruck in later years in an unkown quantity.

Suggested Books on Braided Hair Half Cents

  • American Half Cents: the "Little Half Sisters"; Roger S Cohen; Publisher: Wigglesworth & Ghatt Co. (1982)
  • Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents, 1793-1857; Walter Breen; Publisher: American Institute of Numismatic Research; First Printing edition (1983)
  • 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 Half Cent Die State Book 1793-1857; Ronald P. Manley, J.R. Grellman Jr.; Publisher: pub. By author; 1ST edition (1998)
  • 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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