Monday, August 16, 2010

The American Half Cent (another forgotten coin from America's past)

I have been on a kind of a coin jag as of late. I have rediscovered the coin collecting of my youth. I am not really into getting every coin of this and that year, but a sampling of various types to handle my curiosity on the subject. That brings me to this small post today on Half Cents. Yes today we care little or nothing of pennies and they are small and basically useless. They are made of zinc and coated with copper to make them affordable. But still they are too expensive. Let's go back 200 plus years to when the penny was not only useful but sometimes too much money! This is why there were half cents. A Penny bought a lot in the old days. I even recall as a boy buying penny candy in the store. Bubble gum was always a Penny and a candy bar was 6 cents. The half cent was about 2/3's the size of a standard penny of the time. I have expanded this picture to let you read the back of the coin. The Half Cent was around the size of the present day quarter. They were made well into the 19th century. The example here is from 1804.
The Penny of the time was massive. It was around the size of a Half Dollar. It was hard to carry change like this around. I have included this Penny from 1803 to give you an idea of the size of these monsters. The Penny would continue on till the 1850's in this massive size.
A Penny and half in change. You can see the difference in size and once again the massive size of these coins. So while we talk about the Penny, just think what it once was, and how expensive it would be to make today, let alone a Half Penny!