Item Description




Kennedy Half Dollar

Evolving from the Franklin half dollar, the Kennedy half dollar is a coin of the United States first minted in 1964. This coin was first struck in 1964 less than a year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The front features the face of President John F. Kennedy on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse. The obverse was designed by Gilroy Roberts and the reverse was designed by Frank Gasparro. 
The Kennedy half dollar replaced the Franklin half dollar within a year of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In fact, Gilroy Roberts, the former chief engraver of the mint, and Frank Gasparro, the current chief engraver at the time, designed the coin a mere five days after Kennedy's death—though the profile of Kennedy was the same one Roberts had used for Kennedy's inaugural medal two years earlier.

Ironically, the new Kennedy design caused the slow disappearance of the half-dollar as a regular mainstream circulating coin, through a series of unrelated events. First, collectors and even ordinary citizens hoarded the coins of 1964, due to the "new" design and because of sentiment for the late President Kennedy. In 1965 silver was eliminated from other coin denominations (dimes and quarters became copper-nickel clad), but silver remained in the half-dollar. The older Franklin halves of 90% silver were quickly removed from circulation by collectors and hoarders, and since the public now hoarded silver coins, most of the 90% silver 1964s, as well as the 40% silver composition 1965-1970 halves, saw little circulation as well. By time the Kennedy half dollar became regular copper-nickel clad in 1971, many banks and merchants were already used to no longer stocking and using the denomination as they were prior to 1964. The half dollar has always circulated to some extent, but has not at the level of circulation it had before 1964. Given the facts that the cash drawers of most merchants do not contain a place for quantities of half dollars, that most vending machines do not accept them, and that the dollar coin is smaller and is the subject of a push for acceptance, the half is likely to retain its limited circulation status.

In 1975 and 1976, the bicentennial half dollar was minted showing Independence Hall on the reverse. All of the bicentennial halves are dated "1776–1976." While the special half sparked some interest in the public, when the half returned to its regular design in 1977, it continued its decline in use and mintage. By 2002, the coins were no longer minted for commercial use, but only in special mint rolls, mint sets, and proof sets for collectors.

The 1964 proof coins were first minted with an "accented" or heavy hair incised about the ear which Jacqueline Kennedy supposedly disliked. After approximately 120,000 were minted the dies were revised and the hair slightly smoothed out. The "I" in "Liberty" also has a truncated bottom serif on the left side. The first die variety typically sells for about four times the latter type, although can be more expensive in top grade, since they seem to have often been poorly struck.

There is a significant demand for half dollars for use at casinos, where they can be used in paying off odd-dollar bets in blackjack and other games. For example, if a player gets "blackjack" at that game with a five-dollar bet, he or she is to be paid $7.50. Some casinos now use a fifty-cent ceramic chip.

In 1964, the mint mark appeared on the reverse, under the eagle's left talon. Starting in 1968, mint marks appear above the second and third numbers in the date under Kennedy's neck. Mint marks as of 2007 include:

  • Blank (Philadelphia Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 1964–1979
  • P (Philadelphia Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 1980—
  • D (Denver Mint in Denver, Colorado)
  • S (San Francisco Mint in San Francisco, California)

All San Francisco Kennedy halves are proofs. Proof coins were minted at Philadelphia in 1964, but all other proofs were minted at San Francisco.

Kennedy Half Dollars, 1964 (90% silver)

  • 1964 P - 273,304,004
  • 1964 D - 156,205,446