Braided Hair Half Cent (1840 – 1857)

#1 Braided Hair Half Cent Buyer Las Vegas & Henderson

History of Braided Hair Half Cents

When the Mint began making copper coins in 1793, they were still competing with private coin issuers. U.S. half cents were first made in 1793 and last produced in 1857. Half cents were authorized by the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, were first produced in 1793. It was recorded that the Mint purchased 1,076 pounds of Talbot, Allum & Lee 1795 cent tokens (about 52,000 tokens) in April of 1795 and were cut down to make half cents.

One of the first regular issue coins the US Mint produced after its establishment in 1792 was the half cent, the smallest US coin denomination ever minted. It was produced from 1793 until 1857, and produced five designs throughout its run. The last design was made by Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht, the Braided Hair Half Cent.

The Braided Hair Half Cent was introduced in 1840, though the production for circulation did not commence until about a decade later. Braided Hair half cents of 1840 to 1849 were made only as proof version only, with both originals and restrikes made, and were used for diplomatic presentation sets or sold to well-connected collectors.

Engraver Christian Gobrecht used the same Braided Hair design he had used on his large cent of 1839. The new Miss Liberty replaced John Reich’s matronly “Classic Head” used from 1809 to 1829, and the 1831 through 1836 that has some modifications made by William Kneass. The Gobrecht Braided Hair is a simple design that gives dignity to this lowest coin denomination. A bust of a left-facing, neoclassical Liberty with her curly, flowing hair braided into a bun in the back of her head.  The locks of hair draping down over the ear and down the back of the neck. She is wearing a tiara in which the word LIBERTY is inscribed. The thirteen stars surround her head in a semicircle, and the date it was minted was inscribed beneath the bust.

The reverse continued the design introduced on John Reich’s half cent of 1809 and used with minor changes throughout the history of this coin. The reverse displays UNITED STATES OF AMERICA inscribed in a semi-circle near the rim. Inside it Inside of that is another circle formed by a laurel branch with berries, the ends tied by a ribbon at the bottom. The denomination HALF CENT is inside of this wreath and each word is on a separate line. All Braided Hair cents were minted at Philadelphia and display no mintmark.

The Braided Hair Half Cent lasted until 1857 in which the half cent denomination was officially abolished.

What is a Braided Hair Half Cent

The Braided Hair Half Cent was issued from 1840 until 1857 and represented the final series of half cents before the introduction of the small cent into circulation. The Braided Hair Half Cent was designed by Christian Gobrecht. The design was virtually identical to his design used for the large cents which had been introduced in 1839.

The obverse of the coin features Liberty facing left. Her hair is braided into a bun at the back of hear head with locks of hair draping down from her ear down to her shoulder. She is also wearing a tiara with the words LIBERTY inscribed in it. There are thirteen stars encircling the Liberty bust and the date is written down below.

The reverse of the 1840 Braided Hair Half Cent continues the previous design by John Reich. The denomination HALF CENT is inscribed in the middle of the surrounding wreath tied with a ribbon at the bottom. The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are inscribed forming a semi-circle near the edges. This particular reverse design was maintained throughout, with only minor changes introduced.

Composition and Specifications of Braided Hair Half Cents

Like other early copper coins, the Braided Hair Half Cents were struck on planchets of pure copper. The coins for the years 1840 to 1849 and 1852 were struck in proof format only. Circulation strikes were made for the years 1849 to 1851 and from 1853 to 1857. The proof only issues as well as any circulation strikes surviving in higher grades particularly with original mint red coloration are considered rare and highly sought by collectors, like us. The Proof-only half cents of 1840-1849 are found as “Originals” (Large Berries), “First Restrikes” (Small Berries), and “Second Restrikes” (Small Berries, different reverse).

A few hundred business strike Braided Hair half cents have been certified for each date from 1849 through 1857, except for 1852. The term ‘business strike’ refers to production methods, not to the reasons why specific coins were made. The Braided Hair Half Cent coins differ in color and are described as Brown (BN), Red-Brown (RB), or Red (RD), with RB examples less common than BN, and RD the most scarce.

The standard weight for the denomination was 5.44 grams or 84 grains. The diameter of the pieces measures 23 mm with the coins having a plain edge.

Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Circulation Mintage: high 147,672 (1851), low 35,180 (1857; none minted 1840-1848, and 1852)
Proof Mintage: high 275 (1857, estimated), low 25 (several years, estimated; none known for 1853)
Denomination: One half cent (005/100)
Diameter: 23 mm, plain edge
Metal Content: 100% copper
Weight: 5.44 grams
Varieties: Several known including Restrikes dated 1840 through 1849, and 1852 (Large Berries and Small Berries reverses); 1849 Large Date and Small Date; and other minor die variations.

How We Grade Braided Hair Half Cents

Since there’s variation in the quality of Braided Hair Half Cents, we will also categorize the proof coins by grade separately.

Proofs: These coins were struck in 1840-1849 and 1852, and they are the original Braided Hair half cent. They are the rarest and unique type of Braided Hair half cent. They are mostly color red. They are also graded using these four grades.

These are the different grades of Braided Hair Half Cents:

  • Uncirculated: These are the coins that never made it out onto the open market. The normally have a “new-minted coin” look or same as how it looked like when it was first minted way back in 1840.
  • Extremely Fine: These coins look the same as uncirculated but it has few minor scratches and chips. These imperfections are noticeable but nothing so large that it will detract from the appearance of the coin.
  • Fine: These coins were likely been circulated for over a long period of time. They have scratches and chips but the letters and numbers on the surface image can still be seen by the naked eye.
  • Good: These are the coins that have been heavily circulated and damaged. The letters and numbers worn away due to deep scratching and smoothing.

We prefer coins that have been graded and certified as authentic by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), though we will still give a fair deal for these coins.

Price Quote For Braided Hair Half Cents

We have different estimated prices for the 1840-1849, and 1852 Braided Hair half cent coins, and 1850-1857 Braided Hair half cent coins.

For the 1840 to 1849, and 1852 Braided Hair half cents, the price range for Good graded coins can reach up to $1,000; for the Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $2,000; while for the Extremely Fine graded coins, it can reach up to $3,000; and for the Uncirculated graded coins, it can reach up to $6,000.

For the 1850 to 1857 Braided Hair half cents, the price range for Good graded coins can reach up to $45; for the Fine graded coins, the price can reach up to $100; while the price for Extremely Fine graded coins can range up to $180; and the Uncirculated graded coins reaches up to $260.

For the Braided Hair half cent proof coins, the price range for Good graded coins can reach up to $12,000; for the Fine graded coins, the price can reach up to $25,000; while the price for Extremely Fine graded coins can range up to $37,000; and the Uncirculated graded coins reaches up to $92,000.

 

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