In 1840, the Classic Head Half Cent was replaced by the Braided Hair Half Cent. For obverse of the new design, Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht reduced the size of Liberty's head, spread the stars out evenly around the edge of the coin, changed Liberty's headband to a coronet, and tied her hair in a bun with beads. The date remained below Liberty. On the reverse Gobrecht removed the bar from beneath the word CENT and lightened the wreath which surrounded the words HALF CENT. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA remained wrapped around the outside of the wreath.
From 1840 through 1848, and in 1852, only proofs were struck; no coins were issued for general circulation. Proofs were also restruck in 1858-1859, with back dates, at the Mint to accommodate the high demand of collectors. Differences in the berries in the wreath on the reverse distinguish the originals from restrikes. Technological improvements at the time made it possible for the Braided Hair Half Cents to have virtually no errors and no major varieties, with the exception of the large and small dates on the 1849 issues. The Coinage Act of 1857, replaced all copper half cents and cents with small cents made of a copper-nickel mixture.