This coin, along with the copper large cent, were among the first official issues of the new federal mint in Philadelphia in 1793. Despite a popularity of copper coins among American collectors, the half cent series (1793-1857) has never caught on in a significant way. I don’t own one, but I have a substantial collection of copper coins: most dates of cents between 1838 and 1893, and everything from 1895 to the present.
From rough beginnings, you can see that later designs were rather refined. 1809 was the peak production year with a bit more than 1.1 million pieces minted. 1804 was the only other million mark year for the coin. You can get decent pieces from the 1850′s for well under $100, though mintages were only in the five and six figures. The 1877 Indian cent, with a mintage surpassing the entire last decade of half cent production, would be more valuable than an entire date set of the last decade of half cents.
The half cent was just a shade smaller than the modern quarter. Unlike modern “copper” coins (which are copper-plated zinc) the half cent was 100% copper.