Composition and Specifications

The Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 authorized a full monetary system.This included the half cent, cent, half disme, disme, quarter dollar, half dollar, dollar, quarter eagle ($2.50), half eagle ($5.00), and eagle ($10). The Act specified the weight of the half cent as 5.5 pennyweights  or 132 grains (8.55 grams) of copper. This figure was exactly half the weight of the large cent.

Before coinage of the Liberty Cap Half Cent commenced, the weight was lowered to 104 grains (6.74 grams). A second alteration to the official weight would occur in 1796 due to a shortage of copper. At this time the weight was reduced to 84 grains (5.44 grams).

Throughout the changes to weight, the diameter of the coins remained constant at 23.5 mm. The composition of the coins was pure copper, although it is likely that some come with different alloys, because of the different suppliers of planchets.

Different edges exist for the Liberty Cap Half Cents. The edges were lettered with TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR for the first two years of the series. For later years, a plain edge was used, although some coins from 1797 have a lettered edge or gripped edge.