Half Cents and Cents:
The Coinage Act of 1792 established that the United States needed a minting facility of it’s own, that the Dollar should be the standard unit of its coinage and that the Half Cents, Cents, Half Dimes, Dimes, Quarter Dollars, Half Dollars, Dollars, and three sizes of gold coins – Quarter Eagles, Half Eagles and Eagle coins - should all be struck by the Mint. President Washington agreed and supported the establishment of a United States Mint and the Coinage Act, but he did not want his likeness to be placed on the nation’s coins as he had fought a war with a country whose King was on its coinage.
The earliest circulating American coins were struck in 1793 and those were copper Half Cents and Large Cents. Even though the coins had an uncomplicated design – an allegorical representation of Liberty on the obverse and the phrases “United States of America” and the denominations “Half Cent” or “One Cent” on the reverse - there were still numerous types of each struck. The obverses and reverses of each denomination were the same except for the size of the coins and the denomination stated. Half Cents contained one half-cent’s worth of copper and Large Cents had one-cent’s worth of copper.
Both series were issued from 1793 to 1857 and during that last year, the Half Cent denomination was eliminated, and the Cent coin design was changed, and the size was reduced. There are different styles of designs for both Half Cents and Large Cents including the famous “Chain Cent” which displays a chain of 13 links, representing the 13 original Colonies. Both of these denominations of copper coins are avidly and eagerly collected by date or by variety.