Half cents were authorized by the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, but their weight and size made them unpopular coins. Although the number of half cents minted was low, five different types were struck in multiple different varieties. In fact, there are more varieties of half cents than any other US coin.

The five types are as follows: Liberty Cap facing left, which was only struck in 1793 and featured the head of Liberty wearing a cap; Liberty Cap facing right, which was struck from 1794 to 1797; Draped Bust, which was struck from 1800 to 1808 and featured the bust of Liberty facing right; Classic Head, which was struck from 1809 to 1835 and featured the head of Liberty facing left; and Braided Hair, which was struck from 1840 to 1857 (although the only known versions from 1840 to 1848 are proofs) and featured the same image of Liberty that was used on large cents in 1839.

Although there were some slight variations, the reverse of each of these coins featured "Half Cent" written in the center of a wreath, surrounded by "United States of America." Half cents were discontinued in 1857 by the Coinage Act of February 21.

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