Half-cent coins have always been hidden in the background of United States coinage. They were never plentiful enough to make much of a difference in the way people conducted business and for some illogical reason they have never been very popular with collectors. They seem to be the forgotten half-sister of the large cents that ruled coinage from 1793 to 1857.
Half-cents were made during that same time span, and they were some of the very first coins made in 1793 as well as some of the last made in 1857. However they differ greatly from the cents in that they were only made sporadically over the years, while cents were produced in quantity every year except in 1815. The fact that half cents were not made with a long run of dates probably accounts for the reason why they have never been a popular collectible item. the challenge of finding a full set of dates seems to be one of the most rewarding parts of saving coins.
The reason for this coin’s lack of acceptance by the public was not because of its low value. At the time they were in use the purchasing power of these coins must have been equivalent to a half dollar in terms of today’s money. With no
other fractional coins at hand the half-cent should have been extremely useful.
Perhaps it was because so few of those coins were available they saw only limited circulation. Perhaps it was because most small transactions were usually carried out by barter rather than with coins. Whatever the reason, we can only know today that the mintage was always limited, and many of the surviving specimens are still in relatively good condition.