iccoins's Blog

19 Nov 2018

Learn Your Types: Classic Head Half Cent

Coins | iccoins

The Classic Head Half Cent, designed by John Reich, is one of the many different types of "obsolete US coins," coins whose denominations are no longer minted. Half Cent, Two Cent, Three Cent, Half Dime, and Twenty-Cent Pieces all fall within this category. The Classic Head Half Cent was the successor to the Draped Bust Half Cent and had the same specifications, 100% copper, a 23.5-millimeter diameter, and a weight of 5.44 grams. The Classic Head Half Cent had a mintage run from 1809 to 1836, but there were large gaps in the mintage. No half cent coins were minted from 1812 to 1824, 1827, or 1830. There are two proof only dates in the series, 1831 and 1836. 1835 was the last year of circulation strikes for the Classic Head Half Cent and it was replaced by the Braided Hair Half Cent in 1840. All half cent coins were significantly smaller than the large cent variants, but are still much larger than the small cents of today. In 1831, the US Mint changed the die for the Half Cent and also purchased new equipment which made the rims of 1831 to 1836 coins slightly higher than pre-1831 examples. 

Because of the gap between the Classic Head and Braided Hair Half Cents, many tokens were privately minted because of the need for half cents in 1857. Many businesses required half cent coins in commerce, so they decided to take it upon themselves to mint tokens. These are not coins and were not approved by the mint, but did serve the intended purpose. These tokens were minted in the thousands and are not extremely rare in any condition

Mint Locations 

No mint mark - Philadelphia 

Key Dates 

There are only a few key dates in the Classic Head Half Cent series, some of which are different varieties. Early American Copper coins are known for having several different varieties and errors. If you don't know what the different varieties are, you may end up overpaying or getting ripped off when selling. 1811 had a reasonably low mintage of just 63,140. The prices for 1811 Half Cents can be very high, at around $25,000 for a low Mint State example. 1811 had both a Wide Date and Close Date varieties, both being around the same price. There is also a rare "1802 Reverse" known for the 1811 Half Cent. Because of its proof-only issue and low mintage of just over 2,000, the 1831 Half Cent is worth a considerable amount and has two different varieties, small and large berries on the reverse. 1836 was another proof-only issue, which means it is significantly rarer than the other dates. 

Should I Get A Classic Head Half Cent Graded? 

PCGS and NGC are the leading companies for coin grading in the world, however, it is also rather pricey to have a coin graded. That being said, if you have a higher-grade example of any year, you should definitely have it graded and authenticated and it is even more important for proof examples and rare varieties. Unfortunately, due to the age of the coins, many come back with a "Details" grade, which is incredibly common with Early American Coppers. One of the most common "Details" grades for these coins is "Environmental Damage." Due to the large amount of ungradable coins, that also increases the value of authentic, unaltered specimens. 

Every coin is special and individual in their own way and when you learn about a new coin, maybe that will be your next collecting goal! 


Yeoman, R S. A Guide Book of United States Coins 2018 Essential Edition: The Official Red Book. Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2017. 

"PCGS Photograde Online - Estimating Coin Grades Has Never Been Easier." PCGSwww.pcgs.com/photograde/. 

Guth, Ron. "CoinFacts.com - The Internet Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins." CoinFacts.com - The Internet Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins, Collectors Universe Inc., coinfacts.com/. 

"NGC Coin Explorer." Online Coin Catalog Search Page - Coin Explorer | NGC, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, www.ngccoin.com/coin-explorer/. 



Level 6

Great blog on an interesting coin. Well researched and well sourced. Keep it up. Thanks.


Level 4

Thanks :)

I love my classic head half cent, 1832, many were low mintage, but I guess almost all half cents had low mintages. Thanks for the article.


Level 4

Awesome! I have an 1832 1/2C as well! Mine is PCGS#35681408, graded VF35BN.


Level 6

Thanks for an interesting blog. Enjoyed reading it!


Level 4


It's Mokie

Level 6

Those tokens were called Hard Times Tokens and are very collectible in their own right, they were made in both the Half and One Cent denomination.


Level 4

Awesome! I didn't know they had names :) Thanks for the information!


Level 7

Thanks for the information. I'm sure someone will pick something up they need to know. After t went five commuting up on six instill pick stuff up . We're constantly learning.


Level 4

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed :)


Level 6

Half cents are interesting, historical & very underrated. Thanks for this.


Level 4

I agree! One of my favorite coins :)

We use cookies to provide users the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you agree to receive all cookies on money.org. You may disable cookies at any time using your internet browser configuration. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use. To learn more about how we use cookies and to review our privacy policy, click here.