The royal charter granted to the Virginia Plantation on April 10, 1609 allowed for, among other rights, the minting of coins. However, the Colony of Virginia did not authorize coins until May 20, 1773 when the Virginia Assembly requested the minting of a new halfpenny at the Tower mint in London. These copper coins, engraved by Richard Yeo, weighed in at 60 halfpence to the pound. The coins arrived in New York aboard the ship Virginia on February 14, 1774. They did not go into circulation until March 1775, when advertisements in the Virginia Gazzette explained, copper money is now ready to be issued in Exchange either for Gold, Silver or any Treasury Notes. The outbreak of war, in Massachusetts on April 19th, produced widespread hoarding of all small denomination coins both in Virginia and in the other 12 colonies. The Virginia halfpennies circulated extensively in post Revolutionary war Virginia. Out of 59 coins found in excavations during the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, in the early 20th century, 40 were Virginia halfpennies.

A quantity of uncirculated Virginia halfpennies appeared in the later half of the 19th century. This hoard was acquired by Colonel Medes Cohen (1796-1879) of Baltimore, Maryland. Many surviving examples of this coin today date from this collection.

The halfpenny features the bust of George III on the obverse with the shield of Virginia on the reverse.