Posted on February 16, 2021
Though you probably picture the iconic coin with President Kennedy's image when you hear the term 'half dollar,' the United States Mint has produced different half dollar coins since the early days of the country. The content below will explore the history of the half dollar coin and how the Kennedy half dollar changed how Americans use the coin, as well as factors that impact its value.
The United States has produced the half dollar since 1794. The coin is worth 50 cents, or half a dollar. The half dollar coin has seen a number of changes since it first came into circulation, and it has depicted President John F. Kennedy since 1964. Throughout its history, half dollars have been minted as silver coins, 40% silver coins and copper-nickel clad coins.
Designs of silver half dollars include:
Designs of 40% silver half dollars include:
Designs of copper-nickel clad half dollars include:
Today, the term 'half dollar' is often synonymous with the Kennedy half dollar. The United States Mint first issued the coin in 1964. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, Congress quickly approved the creation of this half dollar coin to commemorate the president. Popular since they were first introduced, many Kennedy half dollars didn't even make it into circulation as people wanted to keep them as a keepsake.
Production of half dollars has evolved over time, which influences their value in relation to when they were produced:
You can calculate the value of both 90% and 40% varieties by multiplying the coin's actual silver weight (ASW) by the current spot price of silver. The ASW of 90% silver half dollars is 0.36169 troy ounce of pure silver, while the ASW of 40% silver half dollars is 0.1479 troy ounce of pure silver.
The introduction of the Kennedy half dollar changed the course of history for the American coin. The Treasury Department allocated 70,000 Kennedy half dollar coins for public sale the day they were released in 1964. Almost immediately, the supply vanished. The coins were overwhelmingly popular, but saw very little circulation ” people held onto the coins instead of spending them. The United States Mint ended up striking millions more coins than originally planned. Still, instead of using the coins as currency, the public collected them for the most part. The price of silverstarted to skyrocket.
In 1965, President Johnson announced that silver would be eliminated from dimes and quarters, while the silver content of half dollars would go down to 40%. Collectors still kept the Kennedy half dollar mostly out of circulation, and Congress had to make another decision on using a supply of silver on coins that didn't make it into circulation.
The Treasury decided to eliminate silver from United States currency completely by May of 1969. Very few 40% silver coins were minted in 1970, and beginning in 1971, half dollar coins were struck using the same copper and nickel as other coins minted in the United States.
Certain key factors drive the price of Kennedy half dollar coins, including:
You can get a coin worth half a dollar that was produced by the United States Mint. Various factors may make that half dollar coin worth much more than its 50-cent face value.