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1964 was a notable year considering it was the first and only time the Kennedy half dollar was made of 90% silver. This coin has an extraordinary symbolic value, as the coin was minted following the assassination of President Kennedy.

What is important to know is that the Kennedy half-dollar is also an excellent case study due to its particular design and critical elements.

Now, regarding the value of 1964 half dollars, the highest value applies to coins in perfect condition, that are officially certified and have never been in circulation. The mintmark will also affect the value. For instance, an “average” 1964 half dollar with no mint mark will be worth around $12, while an “average” 1964 D half a dollar in MS 65 grade can sell for around $45. What is crystal clear is that the selling and buying price can vary a lot and that the price is influenced by multiple factors.

1964 Kennedy half dollars have both numismatic and silver bullion values. Keep on reading if you are a passionate collector or want to learn more about the history, varieties, and rarity of 1964 half dollars. Let’s go!

The History Of 1964 Half Dollars

The History Of 1964 Half Dollars
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The 1964 half dollars have an exciting past as the United States Mint first produced the Kennedy half dollars shortly after the assassination of perhaps the most beloved president in US history so far, John F. Kennedy.

While the nation was grieving for the president, Congress thought it was time to finish producing the Franklin half-dollar design for good and order a new coin to commemorate President J.F.K.

Gilroy Roberts was the artist who created Kennedy’s portrait on the obverse, while the heraldic eagle on the reverse was designed by Frank Gasparro.

Unusually, the 1964 Kennedy half-dollar was made of 90% silver and 10% copper. Half-dollars made from 1965 through 1970 were 80% silver and 20% copper. The inner core was made of 20.9% silver and almost 80% copper. However, the coins from 1971 and beyond have outer layers of copper and nickel (75% and 25%) connected to a pure copper core. These half dollar coins are 31 millimeters in diameter and have a reeded edge. They weigh 12.5 grams.

Look at the table below to get an overview of the total number of 1964 half dollars struck back in the day.

Series Mint Location Number of coins struck (mintage)
1964 Philadelphia Over 273 million coins
1964 D Denver Over 150 million coins

Why Were So Many 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars Struck?

There were more than 429 million 1964 Kennedy half dollars minted, struck by both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. By comparison, the total number of half dollars produced in 1964 is more than all the Franklin half dollars produced over 16 years! How was this possible, and why was it done?

The answer lies in Congress’s attitude towards the coin shortage crisis in the 1960s. Due to high silver prices, people saved every little coin, whether a dime or a quarter, as an investment. This attitude caused the economy to fall slowly; hence the state’s solution was to change the composition of silver coins and move to copper-nickel coatings over a copper interior.

Slowly but steadyilt the 1965 Kennedy half dollars made the switch from the solid silver alloy to a mostly copper core with effectively 40% silver content. The mint continued to make silver coins. However, silver coins minted in 1965 kept the 1964 date to prevent the previous situation of people stashing away their silver content coins.

As a matter of fact, the 1964 and 1964-D Kennedy silver half dollars were produced for almost two years.

Design Highlights

Design Highlights
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You may wonder why so many collectors talk about and wish to have a 1964 half dollar in their collection. Well, one of the reasons is their design.

For instance, the accented hair detail of the proof version of the coin is something quite unique in the world of collectible coins. On top of that, other minor changes were made to the coin’s design that is more difficult to notice without knowledge in this domain.

The leading theory is that Jacqueline Kennedy, the President’s wife, wanted to change the initial design and requested more details on her late husband’s hair.

However, the mints didn’t manage to strike all proof coins with the accented hair. Therefore, only 1-3% of all proof coins have these highlights. If you find them, you should know they are very rare and a lot more valuable.

The auction record for a proof 1964 Kennedy half dollar (with accented hair) was $9,400 in 2013!

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Value

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Value
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Before moving to actual numbers, it is essential to talk about the factors that influence the final value of 1964 half dollars.

Mint Marks

The mint marks refer to the place that has struck the coins. Regarding the Kennedy half dollars, there have been two different mints:

  • Philadelphia mint (in this case, you won’t usually find any mark)
  • Denver mint (these coins are marked with a D)

The mint mark on 1964 half dollars is located on the reverse side of the coin, on the left below the eagle’s claw. Things changed starting in 1968 when the mint mark was moved on the obverse side of the coin, below Kennedy’s bust and above the date, as you can see in this picture. Between 1965 and 1967, the Kennedy half dollar coins did not carry any mint mark at all.

Grading System

The grading system is the main indicator of the coin’s quality. It tells a lot about the possible flaws the coins may have due to intense circulation and dictates the price fluctuation. Here is an overview of how the grading system impacts coin auctions. Read more about the main grades awarded by PCGS:

  • MS 60 Uncirculated: this grading indicates there is no sign of wear or exchange. The coin should have an appealing luster. However, collectors might notice a few superficial surface marks, like stains or abrasions.
  • MS 63 Choice Uncirculated: there may be some small blemishes or little contact marks. The luster might be less prominent.
  • MS 65 Uncirculated: the appeal is strong, and the luster is very visible. These coins have light contact marks that are barely noticeable.
  • PR 65 Proof: everyone is looking for a PR 65 coin, as it is in almost mint condition. Yet, due to passing time, some microscopic blemishes might be present.

1964 Half Dollar Value Chart

1964 Half Dollar Value Chart
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The table below compares the average value of 1964 Kennedy half dollars by mint marks and gradings. Please note that the values are correct at the time of writing, according to USA Coin Book. These are average values and remarkable coins in proof or uncirculated condition are valued much more highly. Those with notable errors are also more valuable due to their rarity.

COIN TYPE⬇\QUALITY➜ Good

 

G-4

Very Good Fine Very Fine Extremely Fine MS-60 MS-65 PR 65
1964 Half Dollar

No mint mark

$9.19 $9.19 $9.19 $9.19 $9.19 $10.54 $17 $19
1964 D Half Dollar $9.24 $9.24 $9.24 $9.24 $9.24 $10.49 $17

Editor’s Note

These values can fluctuate. The buying price is what you expect to pay for purchasing the coin, while the selling value depends on the dealer.

The offer you get from a particular dealer may vary greatly based on the grading system and the condition of the coins. eBay is the perfect marketplace example for a multitude of listings.

Significant 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Varieties

There have been several varieties of 1964 Kennedy half dollars, including the regular 1964-D. All  variations are recognized by the major coin grading authorities, including errors such as four different double die obverse variations and repunched mintmarks. We’ll go into more detail about errors and proof coins further on in the article.

Some of these coins have major differences from the commonly circulated 1964 Kennedy half dollars. This chart contains all the major varieties of 1964 Kennedy halves and their value in MS-64 uncirculated condition. All values are correct as at the time of writing according to PCGS. Each auction record is linked to its corresponding PCGS record page.

Type Of 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar MS64 Auction record
1964-D Double Die Obverse (regular strike) $57-$98 $130 in 2021
1964 no mint mark (regular strike) $15-$94 $12,500 in 2019
1964-D (regular strike) $19-$1,800 $22,325 in 2016
1964-D Quadruple Die Obverse (regular strike) $121 $492 in 2020
1964-D/D Repunched Mintmark (regular strike) $55-$132 $613 in 2013
1964 Proof $13-$127 $9,400 in 2013
1964 Proof (accented hair) $25-$130 $3,120 in 2020

Good to know!

There is a rare 1964 SMS Special Strike variety of this coin – there are only a dozen or so known to be in existence! They are notable for their unique look among other 1964 half dollars, the sharpness of the strike, lack of contact marks, and general perfection. More information here. The auction record for this variety was a stunning $156,000 in 2019!

The Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Values

The Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Values
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Now, here is one of the most interesting parts of today’s discussion. According to numismatics, there are two versions of proof coins that have been included in the 1964 silver proof set.

The ones with stronger and more detailed elements are thought to be the first ever coins struck. Jacqueline Kennedy asked the mint to soften the hairlines, as she thought the sharp edges would toughen the president’s portrait.

Anyway, these two varieties of coins are valued a bit differently from the previous types, based on the number of details and contrasts in the coin’s design:

  • Cameo contrast: which is barely visible to the untrained eye;
  • Deep Cameo: represented by a strong contrast between the design and the fields.

1964 Half Dollar Errors

1964 Half Dollar Errors
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No coin series would be complete without some mint errors. This is the peculiarity that makes these coins even more collectible. Here are the main 1964 half-dollar errors:

1964 Proof Heavily Accented Hair

Kennedy’s hair on these coins is more pronounced. Also, look closely at the “I” in LIBERTY, and you will observe how the left serif looks like it is missing.

1964 Double Die And Double Strike

The easiest way to tell there is an error is by looking at the WE TRUST words. You may see a slight doubling on top of these letters. Sometimes, this particularity is more evident in the RTY letters of LIBERTY.

Some 1964-D coins that have been minted in Denver may also have the double die error. However, do not to confuse double die errors with double strike errors.

The double die variety should have both sets of letters, while the double strike has letters that appear smooshed together. Learn more about the double-die 1964 half dollars from this compelling video.

FAQs

Q: What’s the mystery of SMS 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars?

What's the mystery of SMS 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars
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A: The rarest of them all is the “SMS” 1964 Kennedy half dollar. However, nobody knows where it was made. The particularity of SMS 1964 is the very sharp strike and the satin finish. You may notice some die polishing lines.

There are die polishing lines on the fields, but no contact marks at all, indicating that they were carefully made one at a time. Unlike the proof Kennedy half dollars, the SMS coins won’t have the original accented hair.

There are very few SMS 1964 Kennedy dollars on the market. NGC has certified only six of them, while PCGS counts twelve. Due to their rarity, the 1964 SMS Kennedy half dollar auction record went to $156,000 in 2019.

Q: Why are the 1964 Kennedy half dollars so valuable?

A: The 1964 half dollars are still a desired piece of collection among enthusiasts, primarily due to the silver content. Silver coins are by far more valuable than other coin alloys. Additionally, they have sentimental value and honor a critical event in the USA’s history.

Q: How can you tell a half dollar is made of silver?

A: The easiest way to tell a half dollar is silver is by its edges. If you notice a solid silver stripe, it’s undoubtedly made of silver. Conversely, if you see a copper stripe, the coin is clad in copper and nickel.

Q: What years of Kennedy half-dollars are the most valuable?

A: The most valuable Kennedy half-dollars are those minted in 1970 and the coins with the Denver Mint mark (D). These varieties can be worth even more than $100. So, generally speaking, 1970 is the year of the most precious Kennedy half-dollars.

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