During the course of the series, the Draped Bust Half Cent was struck on a number of different planchets, coming from various sources. Walter Breen, in his major work on half cents, devotes special attention to this subject. However, aside from a small number of devoted specialists, this subject does not receive much attention. Nonetheless, it is a very interesting part of early coppers to study and trace back the history of this denomination in the earliest years of the 19th century.
At the time, the Mint was unable to acquire copper planchets at a fairly steady rate, or from a single source. The earliest planchets came from England, from the firm of Boulton & Watt, but by the end of December 1800 the supply had ran out. No new half cent planchets would arrive until 1803. The coinage of 1802 was stuck on planchets from cut-down large cents. In very rare cases, traces of the undertype are still visible, but coins with such a characteristic are extremely rare.
Because of the varied sources of planchets during the time that this type was struck, half cents come from a variety of different weights. Officially, these were to weigh 84 grains (5.44 grams) and were struck from pure copper. However, a disparity of at least 10% is commonly encountered, especially among the 1800 and 1802 dates. Draped Bust Half Cents struck later in the decade are of a more standard weight. The coins have a diameter of 23.5 mm (some minor differences are discerned here as well) and all have a plain edge.
Quality of the pieces at the time of striking varied, although most are quite nicely produced, an indication that the Mint was continually improving its products during these early years.