Bill Jones' Type Set Excluding Modern Issues
1/2c LIBERTY CAP, HEAD LEFT 1793
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||HALF CENTS - LIBERTY CAP
||1/2C 1793 C-2
||NGC VF 35 BN
The half cent was intended to serve two purposes. First, it provided a bridge between the Spanish Milled dollar that was divided into eight parts or “bits” that carried a value of 12 and a half cents and the U.S. dollar that was divided into 100 cents. Second, it provided the poor with a way to buy goods in smaller quantities or get change for their purchases. For those reasons merchants did not like the coin, and for some Americans the coin had the stigma of “a poor man’s coin.” For these reasons the half cent was never a popular denomination, which resulted in low mintages and sporadic production of the coin.
The design for the 1793 half cent was taken from the obverse of the Libertas Americana medal. That medal, which was commissioned by Benjamin Franklin, commemorated the American – French victory over the British in the American Revolutionary War. The Liberty Cap large cents (1793 – 6) were also patterned after Libertas medal, but the 1793 half cent was only American coin that faced left like the original design.
Four die combinations were used to strike the 1793 half cents. None of them were particularly distinctive, and interest in them largely comes from collectors who specialize half cents by die variety. Some pieces are poorly struck in the center of the reverse to point where the words, “HALF CENT” are illegible. Type collectors prefer pieces that are well struck with smooth brown surfaces.