A young United States wanted to prove to the world that they were a legitimate state and one method was through the display of a strong economy. Promoting business and trade was high on Congress' agenda, and establishing a sovereign coinage system was one of its earliest acts. The Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 authorized the Mint and prescribed the standards for the new federal decimal coinage.
The smallest denomination minted from the act was the half cent. Though the smallest denomination ever minted by the mint it was not the smallest denomination authorized by the act, that title is owned by the mil which was never minted but was under the authority of the act.
Designed and engraved by Adam Eckfeldt, the half cent had a composition of 100% copper.
The obverse design depicts an idealized head of Liberty facing left, with a large, floppy Phrygian cap on a pole in the background. Additionally, The inscription LIBERTY appears above the bust.
The reverse design has a laurel wreath of leaves and berries tied with a bow. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the fraction 1/200 surround the wreath, which encloses HALF CENT. A beaded border encircles the periphery on both sides of the coin, and the edges bear the incuse inscription TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR followed by two leaves.
There are no mint marks as the Philadelphia mint was the only mint during that time period so there were was no need.
General Market Notes
With slightly more than 35,000 coins minted less than 600 have survived thus categorizing this as a rarity among collectors today. As if rarity was not enough to create demand, this was also a one year type so there is even more competition from type set collectors. It is highly recommended NOT to purchase a raw specimen but a certified coin as there are quite a few counterfeits produced over the years.
Even if you have the money for even a low grade (AG or G) specimen, finding one available for sale is another story. Collectors may never see one in their lifetime and may have a permanent hole in their type set. One avenue a collector can pursue is to obtain a replica coin.