We are sure that at one point many of you have had a Kennedy half-dollar in your pocket. That’s because those coins can still be found in circulation occasionally. There is one big difference between the old and new Kennedy half dollars we see today.
Old Kennedy half-dollars just like Barber, Walking Liberty, or Franklin half-dollars are popular among collectors because they are made from silver. Well, most of these coins are. If you have read our previous articles by now you learned that since 1965 almost all coins are made from a clad copper-nickel composition that replaced silver.
In this article, we will talk about the 1979 half-dollar value, varieties, and rare errors you should look out for. Let’s get going!
Brief History Of Half Dollar Coins
The first US half-dollar appeared in circulation in 1794 and 1795 and it was made out of silver. After that, a famous Draped Bust replaced this design. Later we have seen the creation of Capped Bust half-dollar in 1839, then a Seated Liberty. All of these coins are very popular among coin collectors. Also, the Barber half-dollar, Walking Liberty, and Lady Liberty were very popular designs
However, in the 1900s US Mint decided to start printing designs without the fictional characters on them and start using real-life heroes in that time. The first coin like that was the Lincoln penny, which became so popular that the US Mint immediately start working on introducing the Franklin half-dollar in 1948.
However, in 1963 President Kennedy’s assassination occurred, and the US Mint decided to replace the Fraklin image with Kennedy’s image in his honor. That year, Kennedy’s image on the obverse side was designed in rush and placed on a half-dollar coin. The coin was authorized in December 1963 and minted for the first time in February 1964.
Unfortunately, since silver prices were through the roof that year many people started hoarding new silver coins as a means of payment and started hoarding them. This was the main reason why halves appeared with reduced silver content in the following years. These coins were produced from clad silver, with only 40% silver from 1965 to 1970. All half-dollar coins after 1970 are made from clad composition copper-nickel.
Features of the 1979 Kennedy half-dollar coin
Half-dollar coins are pretty large yet they have a distinctive, unique, and elegant design. Unfortunately, thanks to a late mintage year, they aren’t so valuable and pricey. Only error coins and proof coins that are highly preserved are in the game. Luckily, a lot of collectors are eager to invest in this series of Kennedy half-dollars to complete their full collection.
The 1979 Kennedy half-dollar obverse side features a left-facing portrait of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the US. Like on most coins, along the coin rim, you’ll notice engravings of the “LIBERTY”, and “IN GOD WE TRUST” motto which is placed just below the image. The mint mark is placed just above the minting year.
On the reverse side of the 1979 Kennedy half-dollar, you can see the presidential coat of arms with an eagle placed in the central position. An eagle is pictured with its wings spread out, carrying a shield in front of its chest, holding 13 arrows in its clutches, and an olive branch. Like all other coins, this one as well is surrounded by 50 stars dedicated to current American states.
Besides this image, you can see these three inscriptions – “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” struck on the top, “HALF DOLLAR” on the bottom rim, and an “E PLURIBUS UNUM” the required written on a banner.
This 1979 Kennedy half-dollar coin features an edge with 150 reeds. Each clad piece has a center of pure copper covered by an outer layer of clad composition copper-nickel. In 1976, there was a special silver collectors’ version released. Also, from 1992 to 2018, silver-proof coins were made with 90% silver, while all series from 2019 onwards were made of 99% silver.
1979 Half-Dollar Value Chart
There are different varieties of the 1979 half-dollar coins and most coins have only a face value. Most of them differ based on their mint marks, so here are three main varieties:
- 1979 Kennedy 50C No Mint Mark – The Philadelphia mint produced 68,312,000 Kennedy half dollars without any mint marks. Considering the high mintage, these coins are not valued as much. However, you can find some coins that were preserved in mint state and sold for $50 to $650. Surprisingly a few extraordinary examples were sold for $4,100
- 1979 Kennedy 50C Mint Mark “D” – The Denver mint produced fewer coins than Philly. In total, there were 15,815,422 half dollars made in this mint. They carry a “D” mint mark on the obverse side. However, their mintage amount is still high so they are less valuable. A coin with a “D” mintmark in perfect condition can be sold for $400 to $800. While those that are grade MS67+ can even sell for over $2,500.
- 1979 Kennedy 50C Mint Mark “S” Proof Coin – In most cases coins that were minted in San Francisco mint were proof coins and sets. They produced around 3,677,175 half dollars. These coins carry an “S” mint mark above the date inscription. You must keep in mind the fact that not all “S” mint marks on these coins look the same.
1979 “S” proof coins type 1 and type 2
If you take a better look you will notice that some have a filled with ink “S” mint mark, while others have a regular clear-cut and empty one. These are called Types 1 and Type 2 “S” coins. Even though Type 1 coins have a unique mint mark they are usually more affordable than Type 2 ones. Type 1 can be sold for $50 to $100, while the Type 2 coins will go from $200.
List Of 1979 Half Dollar Errors
As you all know, error coins are the “IT” thing among collectors. Of course, they are valued because of their unique and distinguished design, since, there are never the two completely same error coins. They can assemble, but they will never be the same. This is the main reason why so many collectors are hunting after them.
Here is the list of most wanted 1979 Kennedy half-dollar coin errors:
- 1979 Half Dollar Improperly Annealed – An improper annealing error coin is a coin that came out from the mint with a red layer of copper. This happens due to the migration of copper molecules to the surface of the coin. Sometimes, this layer can start peeling off, and you will notice a black surface beneath. The layer can be thick or thin with red, black, gray, or brown spots. For instance, MS65 1979 D half-dollar coin with this error is estimated to be worth around $100.
- 1979 Half Dollar Broad Struck – This error occurs when a coin is struck without a collar. In this case, the coin spreads out more than it should, but the design stays centered. A broad strike error coin with grading ICG MS65 sells for $50.
- 1979 Half Dollar Missing Clad Layer – This error involves a coin that is minted on a cladding it shouldn’t suppose to have. For the 1979 half dollar, this means it was minted on a pure copper red side. Coins with this error weigh less and are thinner than regular ones so you can recognize them easily. A coin with this type of error, such as ANACS MS62 features this error on its obverse side and is worth $300.
- 1979 Half Dollar Struck On Wrong Planchet – When a coin is struck on a planchet that was meant for another coin type the end result is this error. This means that a coin will have the wrong composition and in most cases wrong size as well. Also, that means that the design will not fit properly. Pay attention to this error since it is pretty rare and valuable. A great example is a PCGS MS65 1979 half-dollar struck on a Susan B. Anthony $1 planchet which was sold for over $900.
- 1979 Half Dollar Struck Off-Center – If during the minting process, the coin isn’t placed properly in the dies, it will end up partially struck. The end result is an incomplete design, with an off-center strike. Usually, these errors are very rare and valuable. Keep in mind that the more off-center they are, and have less the design present they are more valuable. An NGC MS61 1979 half-dollar coin with a 10% struck off-center is estimated at $560.
Table of the most valuable 1979 Kennedy Half Dollar coins
How To Identify A Rare 1979 Kennedy Half Dollar Coin?
Before you start evaluating any coin on your own, you at least must have some basic knowledge about its history and design. Every coin has some of the characteristics that will help you determine if it’s real, rare, and valuable. There are a few different designs of the 1979 50c coin, so pay attention to the following:
- Mint mark and date – The minting date is very important since this way you’ll know how valuable your coin is. For example, Kennedy’s half-dollar with “S” mint marks are much more valuable than others, especially those with type 1 and type 2 errors.
- Condition of the coin – The current state of the coin is always vital when assessing the potential value. No matter how rare the coin is, if it is damaged you can’t expect it to sell for a high price. Please remember that you should never clean coins on your own since you can greatly damage the surface if you use some abrasives that can harm the luster.
- Material composition – Remember all coins made before 1965 are made with high silver content (90%). A real Kennedy half-dollar coin from 1979 must be made with clad composition copper-nickel.
How Does The Grading System Effects The Final Price?
As I previously mentioned the condition and grade of the coin will affect the final price significantly. For collectors, the most valuable coins are always labeled with some of the uncirculated grades. In their collection, the lowest-value coin grade will be good, but they tend to replace that one with a better example.
These are the basic grades for the coins:
- (P-1) Poor – These coins are indistinguishable and damaged. However, to be accepted as collectibles they must have a visible date and mintmark.
- (FR-2) Fair – Coins with this grade are not so smooth, but they do not have any large damage that previously graded coins have. To be identified they must have enough visible details.
- (G-4) Fair – These coins are in a bit better shape than previous ones but the inscriptions have merged into the rim. Almost all important elements have been erased.
- (VG-8) Very Good – All of the primary design elements are visible but not as much as clear.
- (F-12) Good – Coins graded good come from circulation, so they are worn but the overall design details stand out clearly. Rims are completely isolated from the rest of the coin.
- (VF-20) Very Fine – Used in circulation but still in great condition, some finer features still visible. To earn this grade all the inscriptions such as the motto LIBERTY are easily readable. Both sides have whole rims that are separated from the rest of the coin.
- (EF-40) Extremely Fine – Slightly used, all details are visible, and the most important ones are still bold. All finer details such as mintmarks are bold and clear. Light wear may be seen and is acceptable.
- (AU-50) Uncirculated – These coins may have contact marks but minor. The eye appeal must be on point!
- (AU-58) Uncirculated Choice – Minor traces of wear. There should be no severe contact marks and almost full mint shine.
- (MS-60) Mint State Basal – Must be uncirculated! Strictly no indication of wear on the coin’s highest points. Only acceptable are reduced luster, minor visible contact marks, hairlines, and other small flaws.
- (MS-63) Mint State Acceptable – Coin must be uncirculated. Contact scratches and small nicks, slightly reduced shine, but otherwise great eye appeal. Check the strike it must be weak to average.
- (MS-65) Mint State Choice – Uncirculated coin that features a great mint shine. There are no to very little contact blemishes. Exceptional eye appeal while the strike is unusually severe.
- (MS-68) Mint State Premium Quality – Uncirculated coin that sports a superb luster. Naturally, there are no obvious contact marks. Exceptional eye appeal with the quick and appealing strike.
- (MS-69) Almost Perfect Mint State – Uncirculated coin that features a perfect mint brilliance. Also, it has a sharp and appealing strike and extremely good eye appeal. This is a near-perfect coin with minor imperfections that can be seen in the planchet, strike, and contact markings.
- (MS-70) Mint State Perfect – This is a perfect coin, if you take it under 8x magnification, you won’t see any tiny imperfections. The strike is crisp, and the coin is precisely centered on a perfect planchet. This coin is also bright and whole with original luster.
Where Should You Look For Kennedy Half-Dollar Coins?
It is crucial to find a reliable place where you can appraise, sell, or buy your valuable coin, no matter which type of coin we are talking about. A lot of people decide to list or buy their coins on online market platforms, considering that prices here are always lower, but no one ever thinks about if this is a costly mistake.
You should always be very careful especially when looking for error coins. We already mentioned how many coin collectors spend their whole collecting career hunting error coins. When it comes to buying and selling valuable collectibles such as coins it is crucial to find a reliable dealer. The best option is always a reliable auction house or reputable coin web pages such as Heritage Auctions, PCGS, Coins For Sale, or Littleton Coin Company.
O course, you should always explore places like eBay, Etsy, and LiveAuctioneers to investigate the market and price ranges. Our recommendation is to avoid buying very valuable coins here, considering the chances of being scammed are high. Look for a proven seller always, check the feedback, and always consult with your mentor or specialist about the coin and the price.
How can you tell if your Kennedy 1979 half-dollar coin is rare?
In general, no matter the series all Kennedy half-dollar coins are common. There are millions of these coins in circulation. Logically, that means finding a rare and unique coin design from a particular minting year is a challenging task, but it is never a mission impossible.
Luckily, there are always a few rare editions of coins with errors that you can focus on finding. For the 1979 edition, you should be looking for:
- 1979 MS 64 half-dollar
- 1979 S PR 70 half-dollar Type 2 with deep cameo contrast
- 1979 D MS 67+ half-dollar
- 1979 S PR 70 half-dollar Type 1 with deep cameo contrast
- 1979 S PR 70 David Hall Signature half-dollar Type 2 with deep cameo contrast
- 1979 S PR 70 David Hall Signature half-dollar Type 1 with deep cameo contrast
Which Kennedy half-dollar coin is the most valuable?
Without any doubt, the most valuable Kennedy half-dollar is the 1964 Kennedy 50c coin minted in Denver, which was sold for over $22,000. However, the list of pricey 50-cent coins does not end here. These are also very valuable examples:
- 1969 D Kennedy half-dollar sold for $15,600
- 1966 Kennedy half-dollar sold for $15,105
- 1971 D Kennedy half-dollar sold for $13,000
- 1964 Kennedy half-dollar sold for $12,500
- 2020 D Kennedy half-dollar sold for $9,995
Are there Kennedy 50C coins that have two dates?
Yes. There are some special coin editions that were produced for special occasions. There is a coin produced for the 50th anniversary of the minting of the Kennedy half-dollar coin, and you will notice two different dates on it.
Let’s Wrap This One Up
The Kennedy half-dollar coin is a very popular collectible among Americans since it has both sentimental value for common people, as well as numismatic value for coin collectors. That should answer the question of why is this coin worth seeking out.
Many of you will ask which one out of all these is the most valuable one, and the answer is – depends on what you are looking for. If you are hinting for a big coin to add to your collection then you should aim to get the 1964D Kennedy 50c coin. In case you are looking to add this historic coin to your collection then you can choose any of the prime-graded Kennedy 50C coins, we recommend you to look for the 1979 Kennedy half-dollar coin since it is an older version so with time it will gain on the price more.
Hopefully, this article answered some of the questions and helped you figure out how to handle your precious coins. In case you know some information that we didn’t mention here, please do not hesitate to share your opinions and advice in the comment section below.