Historically, half dollars have been used extensively and were once the cornerstone of the US economy. Today, these coins are rarely used, and it is unlikely you will find a half dollar in your pocket!

Half dollars, however, are extremely collectible and some of them are more valuable than you might imagine. If you have a half dollar down the back of your couch or in your coin collection, it could be worth more than the average US property… seriously.

This guide takes you through some of the most valuable half dollars ever minted.

Round-Up List of Top 12 Most Valuable Half Dollars

Let’s explore the most valuable Half Dollars and discover if the coin you have is worth a lot of money.

All values are accurate as of August 2022 and have been sourced from Spruce Crafts and PCGS.

12 – 1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1921
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Outstretched Arm
  • Reverse Design: Eagle Perched Side Profile
  • Value: Last sold in 1990 for $60,500

One of the more modern half dollars issued, the 1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar can easily fetch over $50,000 if it is in good condition. This coin last sold for way over that in 1990, when a MS65 grade coin went up for auction.

Although no mintage errors were created this year at Philadelphia, very few of these coins were struck at all. That’s why it is so valuable. Although it doesn’t reach the hundreds of thousands in value mark, it is still very valuable, and you are more likely to find one in good shape (as it was only minted just over 100 years ago).

11 – 1802 Draped Bust Half Dollar

1802 Draped Bust Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1802
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Draped Bust
  • Reverse Design: Eagle and US Shield
  • Value: Last sold in 2015 for $117,500

The 1802 and 1801 half dollars are virtually identical besides the date… and the value. With 29,890 minted in Philadelphia and none expected to have a grade higher than MS62, it has a slightly lower value.

Regardless, a high-quality 1802 draped bust half dollar could still fetch you over $100,000.

With the reeded edge and draped bust design of Lady Liberty, it is a fantastic coin to own. Make sure you buy previously graded coins if you want to buy the 1802 draped bust half dollar online to ensure it is authentic.

10 – 1801 Draped Bust Half Dollar

1801 Draped Bust Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1801
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Draped Bust
  • Reverse Design: Eagle and US Shield
  • Value: Last sold in 2013 for $329,000

The 1801 Draped Bust Half Dollar was minted in the Philadelphia mint (no mint mark) and contains 89.2% silver and 10.8% copper.

The value of this coin varies wildly depending on condition with poor examples fetching as little as $850. Mint state examples like the coin mentioned above are currently valued at around $375,000. Given that there are only 2 coins estimated to have survived in such a condition you will be incredibly lucky to chance upon such a high value coin.

You can buy 1801 Draped Bust Half Dollars online – these tend to be lower grade coins. When buying a coin online, be careful as there are a lot of fake 1801 Draped Bust Half Dollars.

9 – 1817/4 Capped Bust Over Date Half Dollar

Capped Bust Over Date Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1817
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Bust over Date
  • Reverse Design: Eagle with Arrows in Talons
  • Value: Last sold in 2009 for $356,500

The 1817/4 Capped Bust Over Date Half Dollar is a coin that was minted in Philadelphia (no mint mark) and contained 89.2% silver and 10.8% copper. The key to this coin’s value is the capped bust that is over the ‘7’ on the 1817 date.

Unlike the 1801 coin, the 1817/4 over Date Half Dollar is highly valuable at all known grades, ranging from $110,000 at the lowest grade to an estimated $525,000 for the single coin known at the highest grade.

You won’t be able to track this coin down outside of a specialist collectors’ market, auction or by engaging a coin specialist to arrange a private sale.

8 – 1839 O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar

1839 O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1839
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty Capped Bust with O Mint Mark
  • Reverse Design: Eagle with Arrows in Talons
  • Value: Sold in 2008 for $373,750

The 1839 O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar was minted in New Orleans and carries the O mint mark. It contains 90% silver and 10% copper.

Once again, the grading alters the value of your coin significantly and lower grade O Proof Capped Bust coins retail at $2000 with high grade coins fetching over $200,000.

The 1839 O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar is a great example of how a mint mark can considerably change a coin’s value. The O mint mark is found just below the relief of Lady Liberty.

Be aware that many forgeries exist of this coin including original 1839 coins with the O mint mark added on by jewelers. The original coin is struck, and you should be able to see the strike of the O on examination.

7 – 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar with Two Leaves

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar with Two Leaves
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  • Year: 1795
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Flowing Hair
  • Reverse Design: Eagle in Wreath of Leaves
  • Value: Sold in 2015 for $411,250

The 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar was minted in Philadelphia (no mint mark) and contains 90% silver and 10% copper. It carries a simple design by Robert Scott and a total of 299,680 were minted in 1795.

Today it is unknown how many of these coins survived and the grading once again dictates the price. Lower grade coins retail at around $700 with the highest-grade version being valued at around $415,000 currently.

There is only one coin that has been graded PCGS 64+ which is the coin auctioned in 2015 above. The coin is forged quite heavily because the design isn’t intricate and can be replicated more easily than other valuable coins.

6 – 1853 O Seated Liberty Half Dollar (No Arrows)

1853 O Seated Liberty Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1853
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty Seated
  • Reverse Design: Eagle with Arrows in Talons (but no arrows elsewhere on coin)
  • Value: Sold in 2017 for $517,000

The 1853 O Seated Liberty Half Dollar (No Arrows) was minted in New Orleans and is considered a very rare coin. The coin contains 90% silver and 10% copper and was designed by Thomas Sully and Christian Gobrecht.

The coin has two distinguishing features, the “O” mint mark, and the lack of arrows in the strike design. As a result, the value of this coin even at lower grades is extremely high, starting at $225,000. Today PCGS estimates the coin auctioned in 2017 is now worth $650,000.

There aren’t many 1853 O Seated Liberty Half Dollars known to exist, so chances are you won’t find one in your coin collection… If you do though, it is one of the most valuable coins on this list at all grades!

5 – 1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar – 15 Stars

1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar – 15 Stars
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  • Year: 1796
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Draped Bust and 15 Stars
  • Reverse Design: Eagle in Leaf Wreath
  • Value: Sold in 2015 for $587,500

The 1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar is adorned with 15 stars and was minted in Philadelphia (no mint mark). It contains 90% silver and 10% copper.

The rarity of this coin is determined by the stars, as this is the more common version with 15 stars. At the lowest grade you can command a value of $20,000 with the highest grade estimated to be worth $625,000 today.

According to PCGS, there is only one 64-graded 15 star coin known to exist.

4 – 1838 O Capped Bust Half Dollar

1838 O Capped Bust Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1838
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty Capped Bust with O Mint Mark
  • Reverse Design: Eagle with Arrows in Talons
  • Value: Sold in 2014 for $763,750

The 1838 O Capped Bust Half Dollar was minted in New Orleans and carries the “O” mint mark. It contains 90% silver and 10% copper.

The highest known grade of this coin is the one sold in 2014. Few other high-grade coins exist with most being graded below 63.

If you have a 63 graded coin or higher you can expect a mahoosive $625,000 for this coin! The lowest grade for this coin is 40 and worth $310,000 – which is still not bad at all.

3 – 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar

1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1794
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Flowing Hair
  • Reverse Design: Skinny Eagle in Leaf Wreath
  • Value: Sold in 2015 for $763,750

The 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar is one of the most searched for half dollars, minted in Philadelphia it carries no mint mark. It contains 90% silver and 10% copper.

Grading of this coin is very strict and the difference in the relief needs to be a lot better at higher grades than lower grades. For low grade coins you can maybe get $3,600 and the highest PCGS grade is estimated to be valued at a cool million dollars today.

With a big variance in values, it is really important you get this coin graded professionally before trying to sell it – otherwise you could lose out on a small fortune.

2 – 1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar

1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1796
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Draped Bust
  • Reverse Design: Skinny Eagle in Leaf Wreath
  • Value: Sold in 2015 for $822,500

The 1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar was minted in Philadelphia and carries no mint mark. We have talked about the 1796 Half Dollar already (see above 15 stars), and this is the rarer 16-star version.

Don’t be confused by the other name for this coin being the ‘common strike’ as there are very few well graded examples of this coin – driving up the value. The highest grade is currently valued at $1.2 million by PCGS. Seriously!

Lower grades however don’t sell for much in comparison, trading for $32,500. It contains 90% silver and 10% copper.

1 – 1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar

1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar
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  • Year: 1797
  • Front Design: Lady Liberty with Draped Bust
  • Reverse Design: Skinny Eagle in Leaf Wreath
  • Value: Sold in 2015 for $1,527,500

The 1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar was minted in Philadelphia (no mint mark) and contains 90% silver and 10% copper.

It was a small mintage year with only 2984 minted and very few of those surviving. This creates the rarity associated with this coin – especially in the highest grades.

A low grade 1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar fetches a (pretty awesome) $20,000 and the highest grade is currently estimated to be worth almost $2 million according to PCGS. Crazy!

Other Valuable Silver Half Dollars

There are several variants of the silver Half Dollar that attract values of hundreds of thousands of dollars at higher grades.

Some of the most well-known include:

  • 1839 Proof Liberty Seated Half Dollar (No Drapery) – $241,500.
  • 1827 Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar – $258,500.
  • 1807 Capped Bust Half Dollar (Large Stars) – $258,500.
  • 1919 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar – $270,000.
  • 1855 S Proof Liberty Seated Half Dollar – $276,000.

All values sourced are from PCGS with last sold auction prices.

Determining the Silver Half Dollar Value

Determining the Silver Half Dollar Value
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To find the value of your silver half dollar there are several websites online dedicated to appraising the value of coins. Reddit is always a good place to go, or Collectors Universe.

For rarer coins or coins where it is difficult to get an appraisal using a generic guide, you should send your coin to a dedicated appraiser such as PCGS. PCGS will:

  • Authenticate your coin,
  • Grade the coin,
  • Give an estimated retail value (sometimes this isn’t possible if a coin hasn’t sold recently),
  • Enshrine the coin to protect it and maintain its grading.

If you still fail to find a price, you should approach an auction house and ask them what they would list the coin at. Auction houses typically accept coins that have been appraised first, you may find it difficult to get an ungraded coin listed.

The condition of your coin will ultimately determine its value. If the coin is in uncirculated or mint condition it will achieve a higher value than the same coin in a circulated condition. Don’t be tempted to clean your coin, a collector will prefer a dirty coin to a clean coin because cleaning can damage the relief on the coin.

Lastly, look for mint marks, some mint marks increase value on coins significantly.

Half Dollar Value by Design

Half Dollar Value by Design
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The half dollar design has changed over the centuries and various designs have different levels of demand in the collector’s market. Usually, the rarer the coin the higher the value it gets.

Below we outline key designs of the half dollar and outline the most valuable types.

Most Valuable Kennedy Half Dollars

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar is the rarest of the modern half dollar variants due to its precious metal composition and mint run being isolated to 1964. From 1965 the coin composition was changed – being made mostly of copper instead of silver.

Most Valuable Franklin Half Dollars

The Franklin Half Dollar has a face with the founding father Benjamin Franklin. It was struck between 1948 and 1963 and is the predecessor to the 1964 half dollar.

The melt value of the Franklin Half Dollar is currently $8.37. Variants of this coin are desirable and can get far higher prices.

Most Valuable JFK Half Dollars

Most Valuable JFK Half Dollars
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For information about the JFK Half Dollars, you should read the above heading ‘valuable Kennedy Half Dollars’ as these are the same coin. You may find the coins represented as JFK Half Dollars on the collector’s market.

Most Valuable Liberty Half Dollars

Liberty Half Dollars tend to be the most valuable of the half dollar variant and all the coins that make up our list are Liberty variants. Some of these designs are incredibly ornate with the Walking Liberty coins being particularly eye-catching.

Conclusion – Finding the Most Valuable Half Dollars

Although several half dollar designs have been released over the years, we’ve narrowed it down to the 12 that have the highest value. If you couldn’t find your half dollar on the list, it could still be extremely valuable, and you might want to get older coins appraised.

Modern variants can also be valuable and at a bare minimum you will always have the melt value of the coin or for less precious metal variants – the face value of 50c.

FAQs

FAQs
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Is the half dollar made of silver?

Half dollars have various metals used over time. Older half dollars were made of either copper or silver with silver coins being more desirable than the copper ones.

What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare?

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar has a different metal composition to later mints with 90% silver and 10% copper. From 1965 this composition changed to 60% copper and 40% silver, meaning the 1964 has much more precious metal in.

What makes a 1971 Kennedy Half Dollar rare?

From 1971 onwards, the composition of metals was re-adjusted, and silver became the majority metal used in the coins. The composition of a 1971 Kennedy half dollar is 91.67% silver, 8.33% copper and the remainder being nickel.

Also Read: Kennedy Half Dollar Value Chart (1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972)

What is the most valuable half dollar in circulation?

Most silver half dollars in circulation are the 1971 onwards variants although you may find a 1964 Kennedy Silver Half Dollar in circulation if you’re lucky. The 1964 variant is the rarest coin that is likely to still be in circulation.

Is the 1974 Half Dollar Valuable?

Half dollars are minted for collectors as well as limited circulation. As such, the 1974 Half Dollar holds a small value.

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