This unique 1857 Specimen Half Cent is the only known Specimen of the Braided Hair design. Proof Braided Hair Half Cents were struck from 1840 to 1857, while the mint state Half Cents were struck from 1849 to 1857. In early 1857, Congress abolished the Half Cent as a denomination due to significant hoarding and decreased use by the public. Therefore, 1857 was the last year that Half Cents were struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
This specimen exhibits nearly full mint red, has reflective surfaces, and is in gem condition. Clearly this unique Half Cent was properly stored over the years which accounts for its great preservation today. This Half Cent was sold by Stack's via private treaty in 1970 and was in the Missouri Cabinet.
Specimen strikes, when certified by PCGS and NGC, are considered special presentation strikings. It is the plate coin in Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents. Obviously a special presentation strike for a numismatic collector or political figure since it is unique and struck in the final year of production. Specimen coins from 1793 through 1925 are extremely rare and generate excitement when offered for sale.