U.S. Bicentennial Coins

More than two decades before the 50 State Quarters and three decades before the Presidential Dollar Series, the United States had a circulating commemorative coin program that lasted 2 years and proved popular among the masses:

The Bicentennial coin designs on U.S. circulating quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins.

History Of Bicentennial Coins

In 1970, the United States American Revolution Bicentennial Commission proposed the idea of minting special coins to commemorate our nation’s Bicentennial.

After pitching the idea to President Nixon and deciding to what extent the special commemorative coin program should reach — both in terms of denominations involved and how the coins should be distribute — the House Committee on Banking and Currency proposed on July 24, 1973 that the U.S. should strike double-dated commemoratives (1776-1976) for quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins.

Furthermore, it was declared that there be an open design competition for a special image on the reverse side of these coins, and that the final designs be ready for release into circulation on July 4, 1975.

By December 1973, when the design contest closed, some 900 designs had been submitted. In March of 1974, the designs selected were:

    • Jack L. Ahr’s Revolutionary drummer boy for the quarter

    • Seth Huntington’s rendering of Independence Hall for the half-dollar

    • Dennis Williams’ patriotic image of the Liberty Bell and the moon (on which the U.S. had made several landings from 1969 into the early 1970s) for the dollar.

1976-bicentennial-quarter.png 1976-bicentennial-half-dollar.jpg 1976-bicentennial-dollar-coin.jpg

 

How Many Bicentennial Coins Were Minted?

Hundreds of millions of Bicentennial coins were struck during 1975 and 1976 — both in the regular copper-nickel clads for circulation and in a 40% silver clad composition for collectors.

The silver Bicentennial coins were sold in mint sets and proof sets. These mint sets and proof sets were first sold in 1975 and remained mint offerings into the mid-1980s. The U.S. Mint wound up melting millions of unsold silver Bicentennial coins.
 

Bicentennial Coin Varieties

During the 2-year minting of Bicentennial coins, the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints struck uncirculated versions of all 3 denominations. Plus, the San Francisco mint struck proof versions in both copper-nickel clad and silver.

Making things even more interesting, the U.S. Mint refined the reverse lettering on the Bicentennial dollar coin for 1976. Thus, there exists a "Type I" and a "Type II" Bicentennial dollar in the case of the copper-nickel clad regular strikes and proofs. There is only a Type I Bicentennial dollar for the silver clad uncirculated and proof offerings.
 

How Much Are Bicentennial Coins Worth?

Generally speaking, all circulated (worn) copper-nickel clad Bicentennial coins are worth face value. However, there has been an increasing number of offers in recent years from coin dealers who are paying a very small markup of 5 to 10 cents over face for lightly worn copper-nickel Bicentennial dollars.

Typical uncirculated copper-nickel Bicentennial quarters are usually worth less than 50 cents.

Uncirculated Bicentennial half-dollars are generally worth 75 cents to $1

Type II uncirculated Bicentennial dollars are worth around $2 to $3.

Type I uncirculated Bicentennial dollars tend to bring in 25 cents to $1 more than their Type II counterparts.

Bear in mind these price quotes are valid as of this writing and apply only to average-quality coins of the above mentioned grades. You may have exceptional-quality uncirculated coins that would command a premium above the values listed here. Or, your Bicentennial coins may have unsightly imperfections which would lower the value of your coins.

 

What Are Bicentennial Sets Worth?

Regular 1975 and 1976 mint sets, which contain the 12 regular-strike coins minted in those years (the cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half-dollar, and dollar each from the Philadelphia and Denver mints) are selling for around $8 to $9.

The San Francisco-produced silver mint sets are on the market now for around $15 to $20, depending on the quality of the coins.

Regular 1975 and 1976 copper-nickel proof sets are selling for $10 to $15.

Silver 1976 proof sets can be found for $17 to $22.
 

Are Bicentennial Coins Still In Circulation?

While the Bicentennial quarter, half-dollar, and dollar coins were all intended for circulation and did see use in commerce, only the quarters remain in everyday circulation (and even these have been getting a little harder to find in recent years).

It is possible to get Bicentennial half dollars and Bicentennial dollars from some banks, but your best bet for finding either the half-dollar or dollar Bicentennial coins will be at your friendly coin dealer.

If you are looking to get ahold of uncirculated or proof Bicentennial coins, consider shopping for them at your local coin dealer or online.  Bicentennials are still highly collectible patriotic commemoratives.
 

Other U.S. Bicentennial Coins

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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  • Anonymous

    denise my name is steven and i have the same coin and have been try verry hard to find out what is up with it

    • Anonymous

      Hello, Denise and Steven –

      What you have are novelty pieces. To date, no such coin has been authenticated as a genuine U.S. Mint error.

  • Anonymous

    Kate,

    Great point. The lettering on the 1776-1976 dated Eisenhower dollars actually got a little slimmer, and serifs (little feet) were added to the ends of the letters.

    The lettering remained unchanged for the Bicentennial quarters and half dollars.

  • Dutch

    I have been asking about my 1976 bicentennial Half dallor, with no mintmark . I understand 234,308,000 were struck with mintmarks .Four three-piece sets (Quarter Dollar, Half Dollar, and Dollar) were struck as Proofs but without mintmarks. One set went to then-President Gerald Ford, another to the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission administrator, John W. Warner, another to Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, and the other to Gerald Ford’s appointment secretary, Anne L. Armstrong. Did some one brake up a set or am I looking at a different coin … What would one of those be worth ?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Dutch –

      The mintage number you give — 234,308,000 — refers to the number of Philadelphia Bicentennial half dollars. In fact, these contain no mintmark, because half dollars made in Philadelphia before 1980 didn’t contain mintmarks. The coin you have is therefore a regular-issue 1976-dated Kennedy half dollar. As for value, if it’s been worn, it’s worth only face value. If it has no wear, it’s value is 75 cents to $1.

      Incidentally, there were 287,565,248 1976-dated Kennedy halves with D mintmarks, and about 22,000,000 with S mintmarks.

  • Fred

    Hello, My question is this coin iam looking at had date on the top side 1776 and bottom 1976.On the side of the dates there is an american eagel between two american flages.On the other side u shapes symbol with a circle and a cross inside the circle.It looks to be copper or glod plated. Do you know the worth?

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your question, Fred –

      I would have to see the coin to give you a better idea of its exact value, but it sounds like from your description that it’s a bronze medal. Bicentennial medals were often produced by the thousands. Such pieces tend to be worth $5 to $10.

  • Khoffman83

    Have a 1976 Denver mint dollar. Seems the sides were punched a little hard as the indentions come past the edge of the coin. Does this happen often on these coins?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Khoffman –

      Hmm… Do you mean the design looks like it’s hanging off the edge of the coin or the reeded edge (the little lines on the edge of the coin) appear to come up past the rim?

  • GuestLuis

    i have a bicentennial 1776-1976 quarter the size of a nickel, on the head side it says “copy”, is it worth something?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Luis —

      What you have is simply a replica and is not numismatically valuable.

  • LS

    How do you tell the difference between a proof bicentennial Quarter, Half or Dollar minted in Silver Clad or Nickel Clad?

    • Anonymous

      LS,

      Because both copper-nickel clad and silver clad bicentennial proof coins have the ‘S’ mintmark, you’ll have to rely on the color of the coin as well as the weight to determine the two apart.

      Copper-nickel clad coins (including proofs) have a distinctive orange ring around the edge of the coin. Silver clad coins have a grayish ring, or sometimes the ring is barely distinguishable. Also, there is the weight difference:

      40% silver quarter: 5.75 grams
      Copper-nickel quarter: 5.67 grams
      40% silver half dollar: 11.50 grams
      Copper-nickel half-dollar: 11.34 grams
      40% silver dollar: 24.59 grams
      Copper-nickel dollar: 22.68 grams

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Allsup/100000380440962 Amy Allsup

    my eight year old son has recently startd an interest in bicentenial coins… i have gathered in the past few months about 35 dollars worth of quarters and on biecentenial dollar and half dollar… is this a good investment for him in the future?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Amy –

      There were tens of millions of Bicentennial coins (quarters, halves, and dollars) made. At this time, they’re worth only face value if worn and a minimal amount above face value if in mint condition.

      While these really aren’t valuable coins now, it’s possible (not guaranteed) that, as time goes on, Bicentennial coins may gain in value.

      I suggest hanging onto the coins for now if that’s what your son enjoys; what’s really important is that he’s found a type of coin he enjoys. His coin collecting interests will likely change as the years go on. If they do, he’ll at least have a stock of coins ot use to either trade in for others.

  • Rmadone

    We recently found a Liberty Head Gold Coin. The right side of the woman’s head(face) is visible and it has stars around the front with no date. It has “Liberty” written on her coronet.

    The back has United States of America across the top,thirteen stars underneath it, then an eagle with wings up, left side of his head showing. The eagle has a shield, tree branch in right foot with thirteen leaves and looks like 13 arrows in left foot. it has “Bicentennial 1776-1976″ at the bottom.

    I couldn’t find any examples like it. Is this an authentic coin? Is it valuable?

    • Anonymous

      Rma,

      The United States Mint did not make such a coin for circulation. I doubt that it’s fake, though. It sounds like you’re describing some type of a bronze medal. I can tell you that such medals are usually worth around a few dollars…

  • Cvkelsey11

    I have a circulated silver bicentennial quarter. All I can find about prices on bicentennial quarters is that the regular ones are just worth face value. None of the price listings mention the silver ones. Are they just worth face value also, or more?

  • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

    Hi, Jessica -

    Those letters were etched in by somebody outside the U.S. Mint; because your coin was altered, it actually keeps the value at around face (25 cents), which it would have been even without the addition of those letters.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MichaelJohn95 Michael John

      uh actually im looking at one right now and it isnt etched in Josh its upraised and it’s on mine as well to be honest i can actually decipher the letters on mine and it’s not 2 but 3 letters Jessica the letters are JLA and they stand for Jack L. Ahr the guy who designed the quarter