Michelle asks: Dear Coin Doc, What is the 1/2 cent? I have seen pictures in my history book that say something like, “Potatoes, 5 1/2 cents a pound.” What is it? Please let me know as soon as you can! Thanks! Sincerely, Michelle
The half cent coin takes the honor of being the first official United States coin denomination minted for circulation when the Philadelphia Mint open its doors in 1793. The coin went through several design changes and was finally discontinued in 1857.
This lowly coin was the mainstay of the millions of small transactions that took place in the early American market place. Though they were minted in large numbers not many high grade pieces survived. Although half cents are scarce they have not yet reached the popularity of other series and therefore prices are comparatively modest.