Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Coin Resource Center includes entries on some of the earliest examples of the smallest denomination – at least for domestic circulation – produced by the U.S. Mint – the Liberty Cap half cent. The relatively short-lived type was produced from 1794 to 1797, though there is some dissension about the categorization of the first date in that range. At the time of writing, the CRC includes entries on the 1796 and 1797 half cents. As it is always evolving, further half cent entries will be added as the site evolves.
Many experts point out that 1794 half cents are sufficiently distinct from those of 1795-1797 to justify their own subtype but, as our CRC listing puts it, “tradition dictates otherwise.” Our CRC listing lays out the distinction in greater detail: “The 1794 issues possess many characteristics which differ from the later pieces of 1795-1797. Generally, half cents of 1794 are on heavier planchets and are in higher relief with the portrait of Miss Liberty occupying a much larger proportional space on the obverse. Most 1794 half cents occur with a deep brown or black color. 1795 half cents are usually light brown.”
Collector interest in half cents has historically lagged behind that of large cents, though recent scholarship has drawn some people to the denomination that was once described as “little half sisters” by Roger Cohen, for whom the die variety attribution for the denomination is named.
Like other CRC entries, the Liberty Cap Half Cents page includes an overview of the series/type with links to individual dates. Both the overall series narrative and each date’s entry describes their collectability.