1963 is one of the most historic and important years in American history. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy shocked the world, and changed our country forever. Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, and the Beatles released their first album.
It was also the last year of the Franklin Half Dollar series. The design, which featured Benjamin Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse, was introduced in 1948, and designed by John R. Sinnock and John Frederick Lewis.
So, why bother collecting this coin? Well, for starters, it’s a piece of history. This was the last year that Franklin Half Dollars were made, and it’s also an important year in American history. Even though it’s not the rarest or most valuable coin out there, the 1963 Half Dollar is still an important and historic coin worth collecting. It’s a reminder of a turbulent time in our country’s history, and a symbol of hope for the future.
Secondly, the coin is affordable, which makes it a great option for beginner collectors. Even the most valuable 1963 half dollars are only worth a few thousand dollars, which means you don’t need to be wealthy to start collecting them.
Finally, the coin is just plain cool. The design is unique and eye-catching, and it’s a great conversation starter. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a beginner just starting out, the 1963 Half Dollar is a great coin to add to your collection.
The History of the 1963 Half Dollar Coin
The first Franklin Half Dollars were minted in 1948, and they were produced until 1963. The design, which featured Benjamin Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse, was created by John R. Sinnock and John Frederick Lewis.
The coin was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Franklin’s birth, and was only minted for a limited time. In 1963, the decision was made to replace the Franklin Half Dollar with the Kennedy Half Dollar.
This was due to the popularity of President Kennedy, and the fact that his assassination had occurred just a few months earlier. The public wanted a coin that honored Kennedy, thus the Franklin Half Dollar was no longer being minted.
There are 2 1963 half dollar coins:
- Regular strike: it was made for circulation. However, there are two different types of 1963 half dollars: those minted at the Philadelphia Mint (no mintmark), and those minted at the Denver Mint (D). The Denver Mint coins are slightly more valuable, but both types are worth collecting. The D figures above the Liberty bell on the reverse side of the coin.
- Proof: this is a special type of coin that is minted for collectors. It is usually more valuable than a regular strike coin, and has a different design. Proof coins are often made with higher quality materials, and are struck multiple times to create a crisper design.
The mintage of the Denver coin was of over 67 millions, while the coins minted at the Philadelphia mints are a little over 22 millions. Overall, this means that about 90 millions of these coins were minted. As far as the proof 1963 half dollar goes, it’s mintage is just a little over 3 millions.
This makes the coin not particularly rare, which is reflected in its price. Even the most valuable 1963 half dollars are only worth a few thousand dollars at best, which is a far cry from the millions of dollar you’d pay if you wanted a Flowing Hair Dollar from 1794, or a 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.
The Value of a 1963 Half Dollar
While the 1963 Half Dollar is not the rarest or most valuable coin out there, it’s still an important and historic coin worth collecting. The value of a 1963 Half Dollar depends on its condition, and whether it’s a regular strike or proof coin. Uncirculated coins are worth more than those that have been circulated, as they’re in better condition. They have better luster, and no wear and tear.
Coins grading follows a scale based on condition, with “Uncirculated” being the highest grade a coin can get. A coin that is graded Uncirculated is worth more than a circulated coin, as it’s in better condition. The scale goes from Uncirculated, to About Uncirculated, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, and Poor.
But uncirculated coins are still prone to damage, which is why there are many subcategories of Uncirculated coins. For example, Gem Uncirculated is a higher grade than regular Uncirculated, as it means the coin is close to perfect condition, and Choice Uncirculated is a higher grade than Select Uncirculated, as it means the coin is in even better condition.
The most valuable 1963 half dollars are those that are in perfect condition, and have been graded by a professional coin grading company. These can be worth thousands of dollars, but the vast majority of 1963 half dollars are only worth a few dollars.
Editor’s note: Usually, proof coins are worth more than regular strike coins, as they are rarer. However, this is not the case for the 1963 half dollar, as regular strike coins are more valuable than their proof counterparts.
Here is a video showcasing various 1963 half dollars that explains how to evaluate them:
A professional appraiser will give you the most accurate estimate of your coin’s value, but you can get a general idea by watching the above video and consulting the PCGS grading standards chart. Click on each grade to read a description of what that entails. For example, a VF-20 coin has ‘moderate wear with some loss of detail evident in design.’
Here’s a table with recent prices of the various grades of 1963 half dollars:
|Quality||1963 (Regular Strike)||1963-D (Regular Strike||1963 (Proof)|
|From PO-1 to G-4||No recent sales||No recent sales||No recent sales|
|From G-6 to VG-10||No recent sales||No recent sales||No recent sales|
|From F-12 to VF-20||No recent sales||No recent sales||No recent sales|
|From VF-25 to XF-40||Around $11||Around $13.50||No recent sales|
|From XF-45 to AU-58||Some sold for $12, others for $20, and some even for $329, but the latter is more of an outlier.||Around $15 (1 and 2), though one went for $920 recently||No recent sales|
|MS/PR60||Around 10$||Around 10$||No recent sales|
|MS/PR-61||Around $10||Between $3,680 and $4,259||Around $9|
|MS/PR-62||Between $11 (1 and 2) and $207||Around $20 (1 and 2)||Around $10 (1 and 2)|
|MS/PR-63||Most go for around $20-$30 (1, 2, and 3). One went for $669 a few years ago.||Many go for around $20 (1 and 2), but some went for $1,175 and even $7,344||Between $11 and $46|
|MS/PR-64||Around $25 (1 and 2), sometimes one gets to around $100||Around $25 (1 and 2)||Between $16 and $32|
|MS/PR-65||Between $25 and $466. A 65+ graded one sold for $4,133. A regular MS65 coin with full bell lines goes for almost $4,000 (1 and 2)||Between $17 and $44||Most go for a price between $11 and $35, but one went for $167 recently|
|MS/PR-66||Around $300-$400 (1 and 2), though one went for almost $1500. An FBL (Full Bell Line) MS66+ coin sold for a crazy $85,187 at Legend Rare Coin Auctions in 2019. Another one sold for $28,200 at Heritage Auctions in 2014.||Between $200 and $500. A 66+ graded coin went for $2,040||Between $19 and $56|
|MS/PR-67||No recent sales||Around $2500 (1 and 2). There was also an MS67+ coin with the FBL (Full Bell Lines) grading that went for $16,800. Another FBL coin went for $15,275.||Most go for around $50 (1 and 2). Here’s one that went for $34. One went for $204.|
|MS/PR-68||No recent sales||No recent sales||Between $45 and $99, though one went for $663.53 on Mavin|
|MS/PR-69||No recent sales||No recent sales||Between $228 and $432, though ultra cameo versions can go for $9,000, $7,637, and $7,200|
Explaining the Price Variations
The prices in the table are what people have actually paid for 1963 half dollars in recent years.
Why such a big difference in prices among coins of the same grade? Generally, when a singular sale goes for a much higher price than the others, it’s an outlier. In other words, that one coin is an exception and not representative of what most 1963 half dollars in that grade are worth.
Sometimes, a coin will sell for a lower price than normal because the seller is in a hurry to sell and doesn’t want to wait for a better offer.
Other times, the coin being sold has a special history attached to it, like being retrieved from a shipwreck, or have belonged to a famous person in the past, which can make it worth more than an average coin of the same grade.
For example, the 1963-D half dollar that sold for $920 recently was part of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection. This was a very famous and important coin collection, so it’s not surprising that this particular coin went for such a high price.
1963 Half Dollar Errors
While most 1963 half dollars are worth only a few dollars, there are some errors that can make them much more valuable.
The most valuable error is the 1963 overstruck on a 1962 Kennedy Half Dollar. These are very rare and can sell for around $1000.
Another error to look out for is the 1963-D half dollar with a doubled die obverse. These can sell for around $200.
Finally, there are some 1963 half dollars that were minted on copper-nickel planchets instead of the usual silver ones. These are very valuable and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
So, if you come across a 1963 half dollar, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look to see if it might be an error coin.
You can also find coins that have the usual minting errors: double die, off-center strikes, etc. These are not as valuable as the overstruck or copper-nickel errors, but can still sell for a few hundred dollars.
Are there any other valuable errors to look for?
Yes, there are a few valuable errors to look for, including double die and off-center strikes. These can sell for a few hundred dollars.
Do all 1963 half dollars have silver in them?
No, some of them were minted on copper-nickel planchets instead of the usual silver ones. These are very valuable and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
What’s the difference between a regular strike and a proof coin?
A regular strike is a coin that was meant for circulation and was struck by the Mint using regular dies. A proof coin is a coin that was specially struck by the Mint using polished dies. Proof coins are usually much higher quality than regular strikes and can be worth many times more.
The 1963 half dollar is one of the best-known and most popular coins to collect. They are very affordable, which makes them great for beginners, and there are a wide variety of 1963 half dollars to choose from. You can also find some very valuable errors, which makes collecting 1963 half dollars even more fun.
Remember to always do your own research before charging headlong into an auction house. With a bit of knowledge, you can be sure to come out on top as a collector without breaking the bank.
If possible, consult with a professional. With a bit of help, you could be well on your way to building an impressive and potentially valuable collection of 1963 half dollars.
And if you have some 1963 half dollars who you think might be valuable, you can get them appraised by a professional to find out for sure. There are services like the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) that can give you an accurate and professional opinion on the value of your coins. If you want a second opinion, consider also asking the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).
So, if you’re thinking about collecting 1963 half dollars, definitely do some research and find out if it’s right for you. It’s a great way to get started in coin collecting, and you could end up with a very valuable collection.