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The history of coins half-pennies and pennies

Updated on May 2, 2015
Froggy213 profile image

As a Boy Scout, Greg learned the value of collecting rare items. Coins are his favorite. Greg writes about coins and other collectibles...


I am an avid coin collector,so I have decided to do some studying and do a series on the history of coins.

I will start with small denominations,half pennies and pennies.Of course I will include pictures of both my coins,and others from the web.

Coin collecting can be a fun and very interesting hobbie;not to mention it can be PROFITABLE too!

We will start first with the half-cent!

Let's get down to business!!

The war was over and it was time for America to get their finances together.One of the first order of business was to develop a money standard.

The mint was developed in 1792 and the very first half-cent was minted in July of 1793.It was copper and really most people just hated it.It was still minted for nearly 60 years.

Our money supply then was based on the Spanish "dollar".A bit or a "slice"{1/8th} of a Spanish dollar was worth 12 1/2 cents;so the people needed a way to make change.

As you can see above there were several different styles minted--I would love to have them all in my collection!!!

Large cents

We will now move on to large cents.

It was LARGE too--about three times the size of the pennies we know now.


Here's a picture of one of my large cents--a very nice 1845 Braided hair.

The large cent slowly went down in size and ended up with what we have now--The price of copper and making them was not profitable.

They were made from 1793-1857 and in that time "shrunk" in size from 29 mm to 27 mm.

The designs changed often on the large cents because of disagreements at the mint.In the coin-collecting world this means many varieties.Some of those varieties can be worth a LOT of money!!

Flying Eagle

The smaller,copper Flying eagle cents were made from 1857-1858.The cost of making the larger coins was getting out of hand;also the United States government wanted to take a bite out of the Spanish hold on our money supply.

Indianhead Penny

First and foremost,that is not an indianhead.Longacre,the designer,actually mean't for that to be Lady Liberty wearing a bonnet.

The pennys were minted from 1859-1909.They are highly collectable;I have a few myself.In 1908 and 1909 San Francisco minted some which are very rare.

Thank Teddy

You can thank Theodore Roosevelt for what we call the "wheat" penny.

Abe Lincoln on the front was why you should thank Mr. Roosevelt.It was morally wrong to put the face of a person living or dead on money at that time.Teddy,bullish as he was,insisted and we had the wheat penny.Minted from 1909-1958.

Steel Pennies

In 1943 copper was needed terribly for the war.The mint then gave the copper for the war effort and made pennies of steel as you can see here.

Lincoln Memorial

Last we have the Lincoln Memorial.It has the same basic front of the "wheat" cent but with the Lincoln Memorial on the back.They have been minted from 1959-now.In 1982 the majority of copper was taken away from pennies.

They are a very costly coin for our government to make.

Should we do away with the penny and round up or down???

Many think so!!

The Beatles

Hope you got something out of this.I will be following up with hubs on other types of coins in the near future--check back!!!

©G.L. Boudonck

© 2008 Greg Boudonck


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    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 3 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Yes, you are correct Blackspaniel. I also wish I had a few 1/2 cents. Or just a little sense--LOL.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

      As I look at other comments and a discussion about half pennies, perhaps it is a confusion as to country of origin. Your article is about United States coins, as determined by the war ending in the late 1700s. Other countries have minted both pennies and half pennies, and it is possible newer examples are from a different country.

      Nice article. I wish I owned a few half pennies, or at least one.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 6 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      I doubt it is a half-penny; more than likely a penny and being wartime they made them in steel

    • profile image

      graeme 6 years ago

      i have a silver or steel aust 1943 half penny is it real. i cant find one anywhere.

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      hi every on i have a one rupee coin George vi year 1917 if any body want to buy this coin plz contact me at

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 7 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Walid, I would have to see it to determine value--but I would say its worth at least 10 cents

    • profile image

      walid soni 7 years ago

      need some history off penny off 1943.....

      pLz help me and also tell me the worht of it??

    • profile image

      Chantelle 7 years ago

      It defo says 19 it new penny then 1/2

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 7 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Half pennies were not made in the 1970's--are you sure they are not 1870's?

    • profile image

      Chantelle 7 years ago

      I have found 3 half pennies 1970 1971 and 1979 I don't collect them not sure if they are worth anything can you help me put.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 8 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Sorry should have said United States

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

      the history of the penny is a lot longer than this!

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 9 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thanks john.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 9 years ago from Texas

      So, if you have some filthy old pennies that aren't worth anything as collectibles, here's a few ideas on cleaning them.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 10 years ago from London UK

      Thanks for bringing back so many memorys..I used to love collecting coins with different shapes and sizes and ones with holes in them and have lost them all due to moving around so much..

      Yes. get rid of every penny and round up .it's pretty simple ..I just wished i knew why they are still in existence!! I suppose $9.99 sounds like a better bargain than $10.00.!!

      When i am in this situation i always ask if i can do a deal and they always expect me to ask for a cheaper price but i always round up saying "you can keep the penny" or can i give you $10 dollars instead..

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 10 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thank you all--I do have som old australian coins too!!It's sure a lot of fun collecting,maybe in time I will study up and do a hub on non-USA money too.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 10 years ago

      nice Hub. I have some old pounds and the like from Ireland. I'm not really a coin collector but they were a gift from a friend due to my interest in all things Irish.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 10 years ago from Sydney

      There is an Australian one penny of I think about 1930 worth $100,000. At this stage I have not found it. It featured in the news about 1 year ago. I guess someone found it.