During the years 1798 and 1799 1.8 million Large Cents were minted bearing either of those dates. But no Half Cents were minted during those two years. In 1800, a newly-designed Half Cent entered circulation. The design of Miss Liberty wearing drapery and facing right is attributed to Gilbert Stuart, the American artist, whose most famous work is undoubtedly the unfinished portrait of George Washington.
(Unfinished Portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart)
Robert Scot, Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, engraved the dies for the first Draped Bust Half Cents. These coins were dated 1800. The portrait of Miss Liberty is said to have been modeled after a Philadelphia society matron, Mrs. William Bingham.
The new 1800-dated Half cent had this new Draped Bust image of Miss Liberty, facing right, with the word “LIBERTY” above her head and the date “1800” below her bust. The reverse design did not change from the previous Liberty Cap design, as it had the words “HALF CENT” in the center of the coin, in 2 lines, a wreath surrounding the denomination, the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surmounting the wreath and the denomination of “1/200” below the center of the wreath. These coins were struck through 1808.
As there were varieties of the prior design, so were their varieties of this Draped Bust design. There were no varieties of the 1800-dated coins. As there was little demand for this specific denomination, there were no coins struck bearing the 1801 date. In 1802, the first US coin with an overdate was created as there were two varieties of 1802-dated Half Cents and both were over-dates. The two coins were both 1802/0 (1802 over 1800) using the 1800 style reverse and one using a new “2nd reverse.” The 1802/ coin with the Reverse of 1800 is an extremely rare variety. 20,266 coins were struck after the 1800 obverse die was over-dated to 1802 and combined with the two different reverse dies. A very small number shows the 1797 reverse with its single leaves at top and this variety is the most expensive of all Draped Bust Half Cents.
The 1803 date has both a normal date and one where the 3 in the date is widely spaced away from the rest of the date. There are no other varieties. But the 1804 date boasts at least 5 die varieties with the most famous of them all – the 1804 “Spiked Chin” variety – where it appears that a pointed spike is protruding out of Miss Liberty’s chin. This was caused by a foreign object sticking to the die causing what looked like a spike to be coming out of her chin. There are also Plain and Crosslet “4” varieties both with “Stems” and “Stemless” varieties to the wreath.
(The 1804 Draped Bust Half Cent, Spike Chin variety.)
The 1805-dated coin has 3 varieties – Small, Medium and Large 5 as well as Stems and Stemless reverses for them as well; the 1806-dated coin has 3 varieties – 2 Small 6’s (with and without stems) and 1 Large 6 (with Stems only). There are no varieties of the 1807, but the 1808 has 2 varieties – a Normal Date and 1808/7 overdate.
By the end of 1808, a total of 3,416,950 Draped Bust half cents had been struck. All coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint and no proof coins or presentation strikes were struck.
All dates of the Draped Bust series are very rare if you can locate one that has a nice red color. Oftentimes any red coins located are spotty at best. The 1800 and 1806 are the only dates that are likely to be found in red. The most attractive coins found today are an even glossy brown color.
(The Draped Bust Half Cent – Obverse and Reverse.)
|Date||Design||Mintage||Fine Value||Unc Value|
|1802/0 Rev of 1800||Draped Bust||Unknown||$60,000||$200,000|
|1804||Draped Bust||1,055, 312||$185||$850|
|1804 Spike Chin||Draped Bust||Included above||$200||$1,250|
|1805 Sm 5, Stems||Draped Bust||Included above||$4,500||$80,000|
|1808 Normal||Draped Bust||400,000||$200||$1,500|
|1808 8/7||Draped Bust||Included above||$950||$17,500|