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Cents & Half Cents

On 6 July 1785 Congress passed a resolution that the national currency was to be based on the decimal system, the units being dollars and cents.
 
On 3 March 1791 Congress passed another resolution dealing with the national currency, this time definitely authorizing a mint to be set up and the president to engage artists and purchase coining machinery.
 
 It was not until 1792, however, that the first coins were struck at the new mint set up in Philadelphia These were the half disme (half dime) and possibly also the disme (dime) struck from silver plate supplied by George Washington himself. The obverse bears the head of Liberty facing left, a portrait which is thought to be modelled on Washington's wife Martha arid the legend LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY. The reverse bears an eagle flying left and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The issue of these coins was very limited, however, and it was not until the following year that coins were struck in any quantity and even then the issue only consisted of cents and half cents.
 
The half cent was the lowest value ever issued by the United States. Even in those days of low prices, a half-cent piece was considered a nuisance; its coinage declined and it was discontinued altogether in 1857. The designs used were very similar to the large cents.