Kennedy Half Dollar Coin

kennedy-silver-half-dollar-back copy
kennedy-silver-half-dollar-front copy
kennedy-silver-half-dollar-back copy
Coin Details
• Manufacturer: Brilliant Uncirculated
• Denomination: .50 (US)
• Thickness: 2.15 mm
• Diameter: 30.6 mm
Coin Design
  • Obverse: Features left profile of President John F. Kennedy
  • Reverse: Modified presidential seal
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History of the JFK Coin and the Half Dollar

The Kennedy $.50 coin, also called the JFK coin, is the current iteration of the U.S. half dollar. First issued in 1964, one year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, it has remained one of the most popular coins among collectors and a common circulating coin.

However, the JFK coin isn’t the original half dollar put into circulation by the U.S. Mint. That title belongs to the first half dollar, made in 1794 of pure silver. Up until 1947, the half dollar was characterized by an obverse face with a woman symbolizing liberty and a reverse face with an eagle. But in 1947, Lady Liberty left the design.

It was followed by the so-called Walking Liberty half dollar, which was produced from 1916 to 1947. It was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, who also created the Mercury dime. The obverse side of the Walking Liberty half dollar showcased Liberty walking with oak branches and laurel and draped in an American flag. The reverse side had an eagle with unfolded wings perched on a rock with a pine branch.

1948 saw a new iteration as Benjamin Franklin replaced Liberty on the obverse side of the half dollar. The reverse side of this new half dollar featured the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Finally, the Kennedy half dollar was initially issued in 1964. Aside from a brief time in the 1970s, this has been the single continually minted half dollar coin in the U.S. coin system. But the JFK coin didn’t stay the same forever.

In 1971, the U.S. Mint took silver away from all half dollars. Instead, like many other silver coins, the Kennedy half dollar’s composition used a copper-nickel combination.

Ever since 2002, U.S. half dollars have been minted for commemorative uses, special coin sets, and collectors. From time to time, the Federal Reserve may order these coins for circulation. At the time of this writing, JFK coins can be minted at the Denver Mint, Philadelphia Mint, or San Francisco Mint.

What Are the Features of the JFK Coin Design?

The design of the JFK coin is noteworthy for its artistic elegance and its tribute to one of America’s most famous presidents. On the obverse side, you’ll see the profile of President John F. Kennedy based on one of the portraits prepared for his presidential medal.

The obverse side features these inscriptions:

• Liberty

• In God We Trust

• The year of minting

The reverse side has the Presidential Seal, which features an eagle with a shield. The eagle holds both an olive branch and a bottle of 13 arrows to symbolize the 13 colonies. At the same time, a ring of 50 distinct stars surrounds the design on the reverse or tail side, which symbolizes the states.

On the reverse side, you’ll find these inscriptions:

• United States of America

• Half dollar

• E pluribus unum

Because of these distinct design elements, it’s pretty easy to know when you have a JFK coin in your hands. It also makes identifying these coins easy, particularly if you are a collector looking for certain iterations of these coins.

Are There Special Variations of the JFK Coin?

Over the years, there have been several special variations or limited-edition minting versions of the JFK coins. These include special gold versions honoring the 50th anniversary of the coin in 2014 and the bicentennial version struck in 1976.

Some of the earliest coin strikes for Kennedy half dollars depict the president with very accented hair. There were approximately 100,000 coins struck with this unique feature, which makes them valuable among collectors.

In 1965, the Treasury Department had a coin shortage. Because of this, they announced that there would be no more new proof sets for JFK coins struck in that year. Instead, there would only be special mint sets specifically for collectors. These were minted in San Francisco without any mint marks. They are quite valuable and rare.

You may also want to keep a lookout for 1973 JFK coins. Congress authorized special silver-clad collector versions of JFK coins that year.

Note that since 1992, the United States Mint has struck various JFK half dollars in 90% silver. In this way, many JFK coins can be included in special silver proof sets. Since 1968, all JFK-proof coins have been struck in San Francisco, not other minting facilities.

Perhaps the rarest JFK coin is the 1964 Special Mint Set half dollar, sometimes called the SMS half dollar. This coin has only been seen over a dozen times or so. You can tell when you have one of these coins if you see a satin finish on the Kennedy side, plus very well-defined strike lines. This is the rarest version of the JFK coin you can find without any errors.

What Is the Silver Kennedy Half Dollar Value?

Coin value depends on the rarity of the coin, the errors that it contains, if any, the silver content, and the minting location.

Naturally, the face value of these coins is just 50 cents. That said, there are plenty of valuable JFK coins that are rarer than average, and these can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Some examples of rare and valuable JFK coins include:

• Silver 1964 JFK half dollars. These are highly valuable since they have inherently high silver content, meaning they can be melted down for pure silver. Many of these coins can be worth up to $15 or more

• 1964 SMS SP 68 JFK coins. In 1964, the U.S. Mint sold special sets of 50-piece coins, including JFK half dollars. The unique satin finish and sharp strike lines make these quite rare and valuable, especially at auctions

In general, however, JFK coins are worth a handful of dollars on average, particularly if you find one with a die error. If you aren’t sure whether one error or another is valuable, you’ll need to get it appraised by a specialist, who can also tell you more about the coin and where it came from.

How Rare Are JFK Coins?

JFK coins aren’t especially rare. Remember, these coins are still minted to this day, and there are plenty of 50-cent coins with JFK’s face in circulation. It’s not uncommon to find a few of these coins in the cash registers of grocery stores and gas stations.

However, some of the rarer varieties mentioned above, particularly SMS half dollars, are especially valuable. If you find a JFK coin that you think is highly valuable, it may be wise to take it to an appraiser so you can see how valuable it is and whether you can or should sell it or melt it for its silver content.

Why You Might Purchase JFK Coins

You could purchase JFK coins for a variety of reasons:

Maybe you want to start coin collecting. JFK half dollars are quite valuable to numismatic enthusiasts both because of their historical value and because they represent a major shift in coin minting for the U.S. (Since the coins went from being made of silver to be made of copper and nickel instead)

Alternatively, maybe you want to put your money into silver instead of less reliable assets. If you purchase quality silver, gold coins, and other bullion coins, you’ll insulate your savings because precious metals remain valuable, even through times of economic uncertainty

Fortunately, you can find plenty of JFK coins and other silver coins from American Hartford Gold. Our silver coin catalog is a perfect place to start searching for silver coins for your collection or for your monetary security.

Call for pricing: 1-800-462-0071

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