Draped Bust Half Cent (1800-1808)
The Draped Bust Half Cent was born when Chief Engraver Robert Scot created a new design of the half cent in 1800. From 1800 to 1808, with the exception of 1801, the coins were produced.
In this design, Liberty is amply proportioned and is wearing drapery around her bust. A ribbon tied her hair up.
It is believed that the image of Liberty is based on a portrait by Mrs. William Bingham, a ranking Philadelphia society leader and beauty, which was drawn by artist Gilbert Stuart in 1795.
The inscription LIBERTY and the date 1800 completed the obverse of the Draped Bust Half Cent.
The reverse, on the other hand, featured a design that closely resembled the one that appeared on the 1797 cents. It showed a laurel wreath with 16 leaves on the left branch and 19 on the right, complete with berries and stem ends.
The wreath was surrounded by the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the fraction 1/200. HALF CENT is written in the center of the wreath.
There many minor varieties of the Draped Bust Half Cent.
- In 1800, 202,908 Draped Bust Half Cent coins were minted.
- In 1801, no coins were produced.
- In 1802, the half cent showed a style on the reverse side where the 2 of the fraction 1/200 is bigger than the 0 (zero). The other version shows the opposite.
- In 1803, one version showed the 3 in the date 1803 on the obverse side to be widely spaced from the rest of the numbers.
- In 1804, the Draped Bust Half Cent had 7 minor varieties.
- Plain 4 on the date 1804 on the obverse side.
- Stemless wreath on the reverse side.
- Crosslet 4 on the date 1804 on the obverse side. Stemless wreath on the reverse side.
- Crosslet 4 and wreath with stems.
- Liberty with a “Spiked Chin”
- Different date orientation at 301.
- Different date orientation at 302.
- 1805 versions of the coins showed the number 5 in medium, small, and large 5, with the reverse showing a wreath that is stemless and with stems, respectively. There is also a variety where the orientation of the date is different.
- 1806 varieties of the Draped Bust Half Cent are:
- Small 6 on the date, stems on the wreath
- Small 6 on the date, stemless wreath
- Large 6 on the date, stems on the wreath
- Date with a different orientation
- In 1807, 476,000 coins were produced.
- In 1808, there are two varieties of the coin. One showed a normal date, while the other one showed a bold 1808/7 overdate.
No proofs or presentations strikes of the Draped Bust Half Cent were made. Finding coins in full, mint red is rare for all dates, although spotty, red examples of the coins issued in 1800 and 1806 surfaced.
Pieces that are in even, glossy brown are considered the most attractive.
Collectors’ interest over the Draped Bust Half Cent was slow in development. Today, the coins are undervalued. This isn’t all that bad as it provides an opportunity to get a glimpse of the early development and growth of the US coin.