Half Cents Menu
Overview of U.S. Half Cent
Equal to 1/200th of a dollar, the first half cent (the smallest denomination coin
ever struck by the U.S. Mint) was struck in July 1793. The Spanish 8 Reale (or piece
of eight) was worth one U.S. Dollar. Since change for the 8 Reale was made by breaking
off one of the eight parts of the coin, this gave it a value of 12 1/2 Cents. The half
cent coin was issued to make proper change or conversion betwee the Eight Reale bits
and the newly adopted decimal coinage of the U.S.
As the Eight Reale disappeared from commerce in North America, the Half Cent proved
to be of little use and circulated grudgingly if at all. Often, orders placed with
the mint for half cent coins ended up gathering dust in Bank vaults. Many remained
in storage at the Mint waiting for orders. After 64 years, the coins were discontinued.