Liberty Cap Half Cents

(1793-1797)

In January of 1793, King Louis XVI of France literally lost his head, ushering in what history would call the “Reign of Terror.” The French Revolution, though founded on the lofty principles of the American model, descended into the chaos and bloody wars of the Napoleonic Era. Across the Atlantic, however, the United States—with its revolutionary struggles long past—was now busy getting down to business.

Promoting business and trade was high on Congress’ agenda, and establishing a sovereign coinage system was one of its earliest acts. The Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 authorized the Mint and prescribed the standards for the new federal decimal coinage. The smallest denomination provided for in the law was the copper half cent, first stru.... (Expand Text)