Part of the allure that United States currencies bear (especially here in the states) comes from the homage they pay to legendary figures that helped shape our country into what it is today.
From the Lincoln penny to the Washington dollar bill, the obverse side of your notes and coins feature iconic images of some of the most notable characters in American history. However, the Kennedy Half Dollar is something a tad bit different.
While President John F. Kennedy is a heavyweight in his own right, the peculiarities around the minting of his commemorative coin make this piece quite distinct from the bunch.
The Kennedy half dollar was first produced in 1964 as a commemorative coin to show respect to President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated a few months earlier in Dallas, Texas.
Kennedy was one of the more popular U.S. presidents, and his assassination put the entire country into grave mourning. Hence, it was no surprise that only a few months later, the U.S. Congress fast-tracked a law to cease production of the Franking half dollar, replacing it with a new coin sporting a portrait of Kennedy by artist Gilroy Roberts.
The U.S. Mint began producing the Kennedy half dollar in 1964, with new mints each year till date and an abundance of these coins in general circulation.
With such a consequential backstory behind it, it is not hard to see why the Kennedy half dollar is a hit amongst coin collectors and why the uninitiated will expect them to hold considerable value in the coin collecting world.
However, contrary to that popular belief, the surprisingly low rarity level of the Kennedy half dollar means that this coin—while very much a collector’s item—is typically not as valuable as many would assume.
What then is the value of a Kennedy Half Dollar?
The market value of a Kennedy half dollar can vary significantly depending on its physical condition and its print year. Older Kennedy half dollar coins are worth more because they contain more silver. The first few editions of this coin minted with at least 90% silver content. Hence, coins from this era are worth at least their weight in gold, which would easily surpass 10 bucks.
However, newer coins will retail for cheaper as the silver content of the coin diminishes over the years. The latest versions of this coin contains no silver, so in their circulated state, they are only equal in worth to their face value.
Similar to what you get with other coin denominations, with the Kennedy half dollars, uncirculated coins will attract a premium, and error coins will auction for significantly higher depending on their aesthetics and the relative demand for that particular defective coin.
Kennedy Half Dollar Rarity
Kennedy half dollars are anything but rare.
Since its first mint in 1964, this commemorative coin has stayed in production for over 50 years, with new coins hitting the market each year.
Consequently, Kennedy half dollars are abundant in the general circulation. Collectors have also had years to stack up uncirculated versions of these coins, so they typically do not pack too high of a premium.
The first Kennedy half dollars, produced in 1964, had a composition of 90% silver and 10% copper. With this rare, high silver content, it is no surprise that mint’s from this year are one of the most sought after, some of the most valuable, and consequently some of the rarest of the bunch.
After 1964, the U.S Mint proceeded to make Kennedy half dollars from 1965 through 1970 with a relatively mediocre composition of 40% silver and 60% copper. Unsurprisingly, these coins (except the 1970 Kennedy half dollar) are relatively less sought after and less valuable.
However, the 1970 Kennedy half dollar is a special coin due to unique circumstances surrounding its production year.
Citing silver price hikes in the early 60s and a consequent hoarding of the silver coins in circulation, in 1965, the United States government reduced the silver content of circulation-issue half dollars to 40% and completely removed silver from the quarter and dime.
By 1969, the Treasury began putting steps in place to eliminate silver from the Kennedy half dollar too. However, due to several congressional disputes on several pressing coinage issues, the bill to approve this change was not approved until December 31, 1970.
Consequently, the 1970 issue of the Kennedy half dollar still shipped with a 40% silver composition, making it the last circulation-issue United States coin issued with any silver in its makeup.
This historical significance places considerable importance on the 1970 Kennedy half dollar making it one of the most sought-after coins in the Kennedy half dollar set. Furthermore, the 1970 Kennedy half dollar, like the 1968 and 1969 version before it, was only produced in uncirculated sets for coin collectors and was struck only at the Denver Mint.
This fusion of factors combines to make the 1970 Kennedy half dollar one of the rarest and most valuable Kennedy coins, typically retailing for as high as the 1964 version with 90% silver.
Other commemorative and even rarer special editions of the Kennedy dollar include the 2014 50th Anniversary Gold Kennedy Half-Dollar, 1998-S Matte Special Mint Strike (SMS) Silver, and the 1964 Proof Heavily Accented Hair.
Kennedy Half Dollar Mint Marks
Like most U.S. coins. The Kennedy half Dollar is produced at three different mints: Denver, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
Coins from the Philadelphia mint are designated with the mint mark “P” or no mint mark at all, coins from the Denver mint bear the mint mark “D,” while coins produced in San Francisco are marked “S”
All Kennedy half dollars with mint marks (except for the 1964 coin) bear their designation on the obverse of the coin, above the date at the bottom of the coin and just below the Kennedy portrait. The 1964 half dollar has its mint mark etched on the reverse side of the coin, just below the bald eagle’s claw.
All Kennedy half dollar coins minted in 1968, 1969, and 1970 bear the Denver mint mark, as all the half dollar coins produced that year were made in the Denver mint.
However, the mint marks on the Kennedy half dollar do not affect its market value. Irrespective of the mint these coins emanate from, their value is typically derived from their mint year and silver content.
The only exception to this rule is the 1970 Kennedy half dollar produced solely in the Denver mint. It is more valuable because of its sentimental value as the last U.S. circulation-grade coin to contain silver.
All U.S. coins produced from 1965 to 1967 do not carry a mint mark.
Kennedy Half Dollar Market Value Chart
Kennedy half dollars are an odd bunch.
While there is an abundance of them in the circulating supply, a large mass of those are only worth their face value of $0.5, yet you can occasionally (randomly) find a half dollar worth 10 times more in regular circulation.
Figuring whether your Kennedy half dollar is worth $0.5, $5, $10, or much more can be tough for the uninitiated.
Let us help you break it down.
With our Kennedy half dollar market value chart, we give you a breakdown of the average price you can expect to get for your Kennedy half dollar.
The prices quoted in this chart only estimate the average value for a specific coin type without considering its strike quality or condition.
If your Kennedy half dollar is in a rougher than average condition, the chances are that the market value will be slight lower that the quotes we provide here. Similarly, if you have an uncirculated coin with full luster, you can expect it to fetch our quote price or even higher.
Hence, you should only view this chart as a guide to better inform your market decisions.
In rare cases, you may have a pristine showcase-worthy coin, and these coins you can easily auction for a few hundred or thousand bucks. Error coins are another set of peculiar coins that can fetch considerable premiums. However, both of these coin types are hard to spot with an untrained eye.
|Date (and Mint Mark)||Average Price for Circulated||Average Price for Uncirculated|
|1976 (S) Silver||$5.00||$7.00|
Buying Kennedy Half Dollar Coins
Because the Kennedy half dollar is still in production, you can still obtain them (uncirculated coins) from many banks across the U.S. while only paying for their face value. However, you will have to hit the open market if you want older coins.
The best places to buy all types of Kennedy half dollar coins are on Amazon and Ebay.
On these platforms, you will find a broad selection of half dollar coins, including older silver coins, newer clad coins, circulated and uncirculated coins, proof coins, and error coins.
Kennedy Half Dollar Errors
Every seasoned coin collector knows those coin variants with a unique error during production (like a missing word or letter or an unusual color) can often create intense demand and fetch considerable prices on the open market. The Kennedy half dollar is no different.
Like every U.S. coin, the Kennedy half dollar has a selection of error types that retail for significantly higher than regular prices.
Some notable Kennedy half dollar error coins include the 1970-S 50C Kennedy Half–Struck on a 25C Planchet which sold for $7,475 and the 1965 PCGS MS67+ which brought in $9000 at auction.
Hence, while attempting to value your coin, you should watch out for errors like unusual coloration, missing or doubled letters, or other unique discrepancy.
You should check eBay for the pricing of similar error coins or consult with an expert if you suspect your Kennedy half dollar may be a valuable error coin.
Aside from the error coins, there are also a couple of special collector edition Kennedy half dollar coins available for purchase from other collectors:
1998-S Matte Special Mint Strike (SMS) Silver: a limited edition coin that forms part of a special two-coin Kennedy Collector’s Set that contains an atypical Matte finish silver half dollar and a regular uncirculated silver half dollar. Both coins contain 90% silver. During issuance, the U.S Mint minted and sold 62,000+ of this collection at $59.95 each.
2014-W 50th Anniversary Gold Kennedy Half-Dollar: In 2014, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first issue of the Kennedy half dollar, the U.S. Mint produced 73,772 pieces of a limited edition gold Kennedy half dollar with a constitution of 99.99% 24 Karat gold which added up to three-quarters of a troy ounce of gold in each coin. The U.S. Mint issued 73,772 of these coins.
Why is the 1964 Kennedy half dollar so valuable?
The 1964 Kennedy half dollar is one of the few coins that are readily available today which has a 90% silver content. Most other coins from that decade that you can still find easily on the market today feature less silver and more base metal in their composition.
Furthermore, the 1964 Kennedy half dollar bill has an intense sentimental value as people from that generation directly tied the coin to President John F. Kennedy and his assassination the year before.
In this first mint year, the U.S. Mint only minted 277 million Kennedy half dollars, and a sizable percentage of these are locked away in the collection of those who enjoy its sentimental value.
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