HALF CENT NGC AU50 BN Click on Coin Image to
½C, NGC AU50 BN - $33,750.00
NGC AU50 BN. In its population report, NGC has certified
only eight ( 8 ) 1793 ½ cents at the Almost
Uncirculated 50 Brown grade level.
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This glossy, hard, reddish-brown 1793
half cent has tremendous eye-appeal. The coin’s
surfaces are wonderful with just a minor tick or two,
certainly in keeping with the grade. There is sufficient
separation in the strands of Liberty’s hair above
her forehead and on the highest point of her shoulder
to warrant the grade. The majority of the beads at the
borders are strong as are the letters of the denomination.
The appealing color of the piece, light and dark reddish-brown
with touches of green-gray within the devices clearly
shows the coin’s originality.
The half cent was the smallest denomination
of United States coinage ever minted. It was first
authorized in the Coinage Act of 1792. The denomination
was produced in the United States from 1793 to 1857.
It was made of 100% copper and had a value of five
mills or a two-hundredth of a dollar. The coin was
slightly smaller than a modern United States quarter
with a diameter of 22 millimeters. The denomination
was discontinued with the Coinage Act of 1857.
The first half cent was probably designed
by Henry Voigt. It was a one-year-only type. The 1783
Libertas Americana medal was the model that Voigt apparently
used. The Libertas Americana medal was engraved in Paris
in 1782 at the behest of Benjamin Franklin, who suggested
its motifs and mottoes. The French artist Esprit-Antoine
Gibelin made the sketches, and Augustin Dupré
did the engraving. The obverse shows Liberty facing
left with LIBERTAS AMERICANA above and the date 4 JUIL
1776 below a double horizontal line. Behind her is a
liberty cap on a pole. The reverse shows the infant
Hercules who symbolizes the United States, in his cradle
strangling two serpents. His nurse, Minerva who represents
France, shields the infant from a lion, Great Britain.
The obverse of the 1793 half-cent
is similar to the medal. It shows a left facing Liberty
in profile. Above her head is the inscription LIBERTY
with the date 1793 below. Behind her head is a liberty
cap on a pole. There are no horizontal lines above
the date, and the pole is at s sharper angle so that
its end is above the truncation rather than below
it. Also on the half-cent, the cap lies on the pole
in a more natural way. Liberty’s hair is not
as wild on the coin compared to the medal, and it
curls toward and slightly below the date. The reverse
shows the denomination in two lines in a wreath of
laurel tied with a bow at the bottom. Within the ribbons
of the bow is the fraction one-two hundredths. The
whole is circumscribed by the legend UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA. The edge is lettered TWO HUNDRED FOR A
Henry Voigt was the first Chief Coiner
for the Mint. His permanent commission was signed by
President Washington on January 29, 1793, and he remained
in his position until his death in 1814. Voigt was born
in Pennsylvania in 1738. During the Seven Years War
of 1756 to 1763, his family moved to Saxony Germany,
their homeland. When the war was over, he took a position
at the Royal Mint of Saxony where he learned how to
use all of the machinery and how to make every part
himself. He even made improvements to the minting machinery
during his time there. He was an ideal candidate to
work at the first United States Mint. When he returned
to America, he worked as a clockmaker in Philadelphia
and became an assistant to David Rittenhouse, a well
known watch and clock maker, who became the first Mint
Director. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Voigt
helped manufacturer gears, guns, and gunlocks for the
In 1780 he manufactured wire in Reading,
Pennsylvania, and, with his brother Sebastian, once
again became a clockmaker. In 1787 he developed a
steam engine to power a boat, and he and his brother
manufactured steam engines. Both applied for work
at the new Mint. Voigt gained the position probably
because of his previous association with David Rittenhouse.
He became Chief Coiner and Superintendent, the second
person in charge. He oversaw the construction of the
buildings and the installation of the equipment.
Adam Eckfeldt was the second Chief Coiner
at the Mint. He worked occasionally for the Mint until
mid 1795 when he became a permanent employee. He was
a blacksmith and machinist and so he worked on various
projects including adjusting the presses and making
die stock. The claims that Eckfeldt engraved several
dies in 1793 are unsubstantiated by Mint or other records.
His duties included forging, heading, and annealing
the dies that others engraved.
In 1796 he was hired as the assistant
to Chief Coiner Henry Voigt. He worked as Voigt’s
assistant until Voigt’s death in 1814, when
he was appointed Chief Coiner by President James Madison.
When Engraver Robert Scot died in 1823, Eckfeldt recommended
William Kneass to replace him. Eckfeldt is also noted
for keeping first strike or “master” coins
that became the basis of the Mint Collection, which
is now part of the National Numismatic Collection
at the Smithsonian.