Kennedy Half Dollars: One Of The Most Popular Coins Of All Time

kennedy-half-dollars-photo-by-mickey-glitter.jpg One of the most-popular coins to collect during the 20th century features one of the most popular presidents of the 20th century.

Kennedy half dollars, which have been in circulation since 1964, honor John F. Kennedy – our nation’s 35th president, who served from 1961 until he was assassinated in 1963.

The United States government swiftly approved the Kennedy half dollar mere weeks after Kennedy was killed, making for what was one of the most sudden changes in United States coinage history.

The Kennedy half dollar replaced the Franklin half dollar, which was struck from 1948 to 1963.

Let’s take a look at Kennedy half dollars and find out how much some of the scarce Kennedy half dollars are worth.

 

Are Kennedy Half Dollars Common?

Kennedy half dollars, though not seen in circulation much anymore, are actually very common coins.

Before Kennedy half dollars were made in 1964, half dollars in general circulated quite well.

However, a mourning nation wanting these souvenirs of the fallen president quickly put in place a national habit of withholding half dollars from circulation.

Couple that effect with the overall zeal to keep all silver coins from circulation during the mid 1960s, when people hoarded coins which contained any trace of silver, and you’ll easily see how half dollars in circulation became a thing of the past.

The United States Mint made 100s of millions of Kennedy half dollars. Production remained high overall through much of the 1970s. By the time the 1980s entered, half dollar use had essentially stopped across much of the country. The numbers of Kennedy half dollars being made declined.

The last year more than 60 million half dollars were made for circulation was 1983. The last time Kennedy half dollar mintage in any single year was in the 100s of millions was in the mid 1970s.

If you look for half dollars, the dates you’ll most often find are from

After that, you’ll likely find some sporadic dates ranging from the late 1970s and early 1980s, followed by a variety of dates from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Relatively few Kennedy half dollars made in the 2000s have really ever reached circulation. Most dates from the mid 1980s and on have very light – if any – perceptible wear, because they are used so infrequently.

Silver Kennedy Half Dollars

If you look for Kennedy half dollars at banks, there’s actually a slim chance you’ll wind up finding silver half dollars. Because half dollars don’t circulate very much and most people don’t even think to ask for them in change or – for that matter — spend much time looking at half dollars, silver half dollars do turn up on occasion in bank rolls.

Be sure you check bank rolls of half dollars whenever you can. With a bit of searching, you stand a chance of finding a 40% silver Kennedy half dollar (made from 1965 through 1969 for circulation) or even a 90% silver 1964 Kennedy half dollar.

  • 1964 was the only year Kennedy half dollars were struck in the 90% silver format.
  • From 1965 through 1970, Kennedy half dollars were made of a 40% silver composition; by the way, 1970 Kennedy half dollars were made only for mint sets, though some have entered circulation later on.
  • Beginning in 1971, Kennedy half dollars made for circulation were struck in a copper-nickel clad composition.
  • Some 1776-1976 Kennedy half dollars were made in a 40% silver composition for coin collectors – these are found in mint sets and proof sets.
  • 90% silver proof Kennedy half dollars have been made since 1992 for inclusion in certain proof sets.

Any Rare Kennedy Half Dollars?

There are really no rare regular-strike Kennedy half dollars. Values for most Kennedy half dollars are cheap, except for the prices of couple scarce coins and error coins, of which there many.

  • The 1970-D Kennedy half dollar is the scarcest, worth about $20 in typical uncirculated grades.
  • The 1998-S silver matte finish Kennedy half dollar is worth $500.
  • All circulated copper-nickel clad half dollars without any errors are worth only face value.
  • Most proof Kennedy half dollars are valued between $3 and $10
  • Regular, uncirculated 1964 Kennedy half dollars are worth around $8.
  • Regular uncirculated 1965 through 1969 Kennedy half dollars have a value of around $5.
  • All worn silver Kennedy half dollars are worth right about whatever the current melt value is for the respective amount of silver.

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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  • Marty

    I’m collecting kennedy half Dollars and want to know how to spot the 1965-66-67 coins that are not SMS?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Marty —

      SMS Kennedy halves generally have a sharper strike than regular-issue Kennedy halves. Some 1965 and most 1966 and 1967 SMS Kennedy halves also tend to have a mirror-like appearance. Conversely, most regular-issue Kennedy halves from 1965, 1966, and 1967 halves don’t have a mirror-like finish, even if they are uncirculated.

  • Tmccain1

    I just discovered your very interesting site…..thank you for all the enjoyment I
    find here. I am 83 years old and am sorting out some old wheat pennies that
    I tucked away some years back. One of my 1909’s has a very small 0. It
    is obviously an error. The 0 is not level with the other numbers. Do I have a
    treasure? Also, thank you for enlarging the VDB 1909. I have one of them but
    it is very worn though one can see the VDB. What is the best way for me to sell it to a coin dealer? I can really use the money whatever amount. Thank you very much for any response you can afford me. tmccain1@tampabay.rr.com

    • Anonymous

      Hello, TMcCain1 –

      We’re very appreciative to know how much you enjoy the site!

      As for the 1909 penny with the small ‘0,’ it actually is the case that 1909 Lincoln pennies do have very small ‘0s.’ In fact, the bottom of the ‘0’ in 1909 comes up nearly as high as the loops in the ‘9s.’ Now, I’m not sure if that’s the size of the ‘0’ in your coin, though I can say I’m not aware of any die varieties that would have caused an unusually small ‘0.’

      As for selling your 1909 VDB cent to a coin dealer, most dealers accept walk-ins and will evaluate your coin based on its condition. Dealers pay 50 to 80% of the coin values listed in most coin pricing guides. They will offer less, though, if a coin has been cleaned or is damaged. While I can’t say exactly what you’ll get if you sell your 1909 VDB penny, I think you could expect $7 to $10 if it’s a decent piece with typical amounts of wear, usual brown color, and no signs of damage.

      Enjoy going through all those coins, and please let us know if you have any further questions or comments!

    • jai singh

      thank you for the imformation

  • jai singh

    i would love for you to write how much a kennedy half dollar with a error on it is worth(the error is the letter e in liberty)

    • Anonymous

      Jai,

      Thanks for your comment. Please feel free to post a photo at The Fun Times Guide to Coins Facebook page and we may be able to give you some idea as to its value after seeing exactly what type of error your coin has. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/TheFunTimesGuideToCoins

    • rOY mOnster

      mine (i have 2 1976 coins) are weird to.. the bottom of the E is missing.

      • Anonymous

        Hi, Roy –

        Actually, the missing bottom on the “E” in LIBERTY is intentional and part of the design on all normal Kennedy half dollars. 

  • gerald

    I have a 1964 proof set of coins and the Kennedy half has the highly defined hair and I was wondering about the valve of this coin

    • Anonymous

      Hi Gerald,

      As of this writing, a 1964 proof set with the accented hair Kennedy half variety is worth around $40 to $50.

    • Nauen002

      Good catch! One slabbed cost me around $40 a couple of years ago. Check eBay to get a sense of what they sell for.

  • wayne howard

    i have a 1977 kennedy 1/2 dollar i got in change from the bank in 1977, had it put away , now everyone saying its a fake, is it possible its real, im just looking for someone to look it over and know for shure , thanks

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Wayne —

      I can tell you without even seeing the coin with 99 percent certainty that your 1977 Kennedy half dollar is real, and tens of millions were made. Half dollars don’t circulate much anymore, and likely the people telling you it’s fake have never seen a half dollar before.

      By the way, unless you have an S-mint 1977 Kennedy half dollar (check for the letter between Kennedy’s neck and the date), your half dollar is worth face value if worn. You’re probably better off just hanging onto it as you’ve already owned it for so long; it will have more value to as a keepsake than as a spendable 50-cent coin.

  • Gossettshelly

    I have a1977 Kennedy Half dollar that is a coper colored or bronze. If you look to the left side around his neck there is a 1960 date and on the right 1985 the last numbers 0 and 5 are deeply stamped. Can any body tell me what this is 

    • Anonymous

      Gossett,

      Sounds like you have a real Kennedy half dollar that was both plated and altered to commemorate the 25th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential election win. Such novelty pieces are actually quite common and, because they’re altered, don’t really have any collector value to most numismatists.

  • jeanne

    I have a 1974 Kennedy gold covered half dollar with the 1960-1985 dates on the face. Is this an error?

    • Anonymous

      Jeanne,

      What you have is a real Kennedy half dollar that was altered by a coin company to commemorate the 25th anniversary of John F. Kennedy winning the 1960 presidential election. These are novelty coins and are common. These are worth a few dollars each.

  • Connorprice8

    1967 silver 90% how much is it worth

    • Anonymous

      Connor,

      A 1967 40% silver (there was no 90%) is worth around $3 with current silver values.

  • Srjohnson174

    How do I know if my Kennedy Half Dollars are SMS?

    • Anonymous

      Sr Johnson –

      In the case of the SMS Kennedy halves, 1965 pieces usually have more refined details than their regular uncirculated counterparts, and those from 1966 and 1967 have nearly mirror like surfaces, whereas the regular uncirculated pieces do not. 

      If you’re interested, here is some more information about special mint sets and their values: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/08/1965_mint_set.php

  • Audrey

    Hi Joshua,

    I have six JFK half dollars that are turning very green. Is it okay to clean them?  If so what would you recommend?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Audrey –

      The fact that they are turning green indicates it may be PVC damage, though without looking, I can’t tell. It depends what type of holder they have been stored in. If it is PVC damage, you may want to visit your nearest coin dealer and ask if they have a PVC remover, which would be the safest way to remove the discoloration.

  • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

    Guest,

    Yes, that fact was noted in one of the bottom bullet points and is restated here: “90% silver proof Kennedy half dollars have been made since 1992 for inclusion in certain proof sets.”

  • Ruez2iamru2

    i have a 1965 Half dollar. it has no mint mark and the coin appears to be all silver there is absolutely no copper coloring on the edging  

    • Evan

      Ive got a 1969 and a 1967 the same when compared to the other 50 of each I have these 2 stand out and look 100% silver. Are there any other coins out there like this?

  • Angela

    Hey Joshua, I have a 1776-1976 Kennedy Half Dollar and it appears to have a error. The “D & O” on DOLLAR on the back is NOT imprinted. When I first looked at it I thought it was just worn but the ridge below it is not worn and the stars above it is not worn. For a circulated coin it is in very good shape with a great wagon wheel shine. After I inspected a little closer and turned it there is a FAINT outline of “DO” have you ran accross one of these before?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Angela –

      If you could post a picture of the coin here in the comments forum, that would help, but given the description it sounds like it may have been a weak strike. If this is the case, the coin isn’t really any more valuable than a regular piece.

  • mollie22

    I have a coin with john f kennedy on the front and on the back it says when he was born a liitle about his life and when he died is this worth anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/warren.petty.754 Warren Petty

    I found in my collection of 1964 Kennedy half-dollars there is one in particular that has a bullet between his head and T does anyone else have this coin?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Warren,

      The bullet in the head is a morbid carving made by some individual outside of the U.S. Mint. This adds no additional value.

  • Biff Maynard

    Was ther ever any 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars minted that were NOT 90% silver?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Biff –

      No, in fact all 1964 Kennedy half dollars were 90 percent silver. The first 40 percent silver half dollars are dated 1965, and the first copper-nickel clad halves were released in 1971.

  • guest

    i have a 1980 Kennedy coin in almost perfect condition what is it worth and if not worth much is it worth keeping.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, guest –

      As for your 1980 Kennedy half dollar, while it is considered a common coin, they don’t show up much anymore in circulation (and haven’t since even before YOUR Kennedy half was made). Even in mint state condition, your Kennedy half dollar is worth roughly 75 cents to $1, but hang onto it; it’s an unusual coin to most people and a momento from an earlier era in U.S. coinage history.

  • Tyler

    Hi i was just going threw my little coin collection i just started building on to see the value i might be able to get from some of them and i have a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar. I read up on it and i read that its the first year they started making the Kennedy Half Dollars that it contains 90% silver and i was comparing it with my other Kennedy Half Dollars that are 1966 and the hair looks different in the 1966 then the 1964 but i am not certain on that but it does look pretty different. i cant make out with my eye what mint mark it is but it looks like a W… i am not sure on that though its very faint. i know the coin loses value depending on how clean it is mine is pretty dirty and i read to not wash the coins they will lose value so im not going to risk shining it out. I read threw alot of things on google which landed me here and to your facebook page to ask you what you think the value of this coin is? I was looking at this website here
    http://coins.ha.com/c/item.zx?saleNo=422&lotNo=4933

    and that guys coin is going for 5,000$ with 7 bidders. mines not as clean as that so i was wondering how much value i could lose from it being not so shiny and just the general realistic range on what this could be worth.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Tyler –

      Great questions; let’s start with the issue of value. The reason that the 1964 Kennedy half dollar on the link is going for several thousand dollars has much to do with how well it was struck at the mint. Yes, it’s very shiny, but it’s not just shine alone that makes it worth so much. It’s also how many of the minutest of details were struck up and how perfect the surface of the coin is overall. Typically, however, a 1964 Kennedy half dollar is worth between $5 and $10.

      Now, in 1965, the U.S. Mint switched from using 90 percent silver to 40 percent silver composition, and in the process, dies (the device that strikes the image on a coin) also received a little modification. With the metal change also came tiny changes in how the design looks as a result of how the design strikes up on a different metal composition. Kennedy half dollars made in 1965 and 1966 are currently worth around $3.

  • Nidia K’rriyo

    Hi my name is nidia and I have a kennedy coin from 1974 great condition. I was wondering if its worth anything?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Nidia –

      If your Kennedy half dollar is worn, it’s worth face value.

  • Weylin Miller

    Hello! Me weylin again, i found 14 kennedy half dollars all from 1964 in my vault. Ill try to post a picture so you can see their wear. I also have a jfk half dollar thats stamped 1974 at the bottom but says 1960 on the left and 1985 on the right. My only curiosity for that coin is that it is extremely shiny (like glistening).

    • Weylin Miller

      It’s a goldish color and someone said its strange that the dates are stamped into the front like that. Sorry to keep bothering you. Last time I promise.

      • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

        Weylin, we are more than happy to answer any questions here! Please feel free to ask questions any time you want to learn more about your coins. That’s what we are here for. As I had mentioned in my previous reply to you, the 1974 Kennedy half dollar was polished (and probably plated) and is dual dated (stamped after the coin left the mint). This coin appears to commemorate an anniversary relating to Kennedy’s assassination.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Weylin!

      Great find on the 1964 Kennedy halves! Each is worth around $5 to $7 right now, given silver values.

      Your 1974 Kennedy half dollar was polished and, I can see on the bottom half of the obverse side, on either side of Kennedy’s bust, dual dating that was stamped by somebody after the coin left the mint, so it is a novelty piece. That one is probably worth a couple dollars to somebody interested in such altered / novelty coins.

  • Tami W.

    Can you give me an idea on what this coin is worth. I have a Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollar with date possible doubled die and definitely the mint mark is a doubled with a smaller D stamped on top of a bigger D.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      I cannot find any record of a 1976-D doubled die Kennedy half dollar. I wonder if the mintmark had been stamped twice onto the die and, in the process, had rotated, which I can say has occurred on numerous coins over the years up until the late 1980s and is considered as a variety for said coins. Based on the scarcity of the individual coins, values can range from as little as $5 to $10 up to $50 or more.

  • starfire030

    Have you seen any articles or research on the dies used only on the 1983 coins, different from 1982 and 1984? How about any articles or research on some of the 1970’s coins that have a short staff on the E above Kennedy’s head? I have been checking a few Kennedy’s recently and found a few with these differences.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Starfire –

      I haven’t seen anything specifically about the 1983 dies, but what I can tell you is that it is quite common for the dies to be variated slightly year to year to improve striking.

      I will have to investigate this further and let you know if I can find anything definitive on this.

      • starfire030

        I sent the following in an email and I post it here also:

        I have seen articles on coins regarding the changes in dies. I was just
        reading about the number of changes in the penny dies since 1958. At least 7
        changes. I thought someone might have done the same for Kennedy halves.
        Anyway, I noticed the reverses seem the same on 1982, 1983 and 1984 halves, but
        the obverses are different. In 1982, the letters are very close to the rim and
        the last t in trust is so close that the bottom is cut at an angle. In 1983,
        the letters are noticeably further from the rim. Also, the last t un trust is
        full and further from the rim. In 1984, the letters are again close to the rim,
        like in 1982. The last t in trust is more similar to the one on the 1983 than
        the 1982. It is not quite as far from the rim as the 1983 and therefore does
        not have a flare on both sides of the bottom of the t like in 1983. It only has
        a flare on the left side of the bottom.

        With such noticeable differences, I would have thought someone might have
        written up the new differences in the dies and why they might have made the
        changes.

  • Robert Reese

    I’ve obtained a good amount of JFK half’s from the bank 64-70 %40 &%90 now how do I win? Where can I get full value for my treasure? I know e-bay. The cash for gold places only offer double face value? Please let us know!

  • Carl

    Hi, I’m having a hard time finding the value of my Error 1974 Kennedy half dollar, the reverse of the coin is rotated by more than 50% (eagle is upside-down and slightly off… I would say it is rotated by more than 200 degrees clockwise) – I cant find anything comparable to this huge rotation error, would anyone know?

    • Help

      You are mistaken, I fear. The Kennedy half Dollar’s eagle is always upside down to the Kennedy on front. This tail to head rule apples to many coins and I fear that you have an ordinary Kennedy half.

  • K flores

    I have a 1971-d Kennedy half dollar with a die rotation only slightly was wondering on value it is in at least ef condition from what i’ve read i’m no coin collector. any input is appreciated

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, K –

      Many Kennedy half dollar die rotations of that era are altered, but as you mention the die rotation is only slight (less than 5-10 degrees?), it could be legit. The tell-tale sign of a fake would be a seam around the edge of the coin. If the rotation is less than 20 degrees, the typical value for such a piece would be around $3.

      Thanks for your question!