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What Year of Half Dollars are Rare?

Half dollars have been minted in the United States since 1794, and over the years, some have become particularly rare and valuable due to various factors such as low mintage, unique features, or historical significance. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the rarest and most valuable half dollars:

1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

Special Strike

  • Details: The 1964 Special Strike Kennedy half dollar stands out because of its unique satiny finish, sharp obverse, and reverse design details. The rims are exceptionally sharp and well-defined.
  • Rarity: Only a few dozen of these coins are known to exist, making them highly sought after by collectors.
  • Value: The most expensive 1964 Kennedy half-dollar special strike was graded SP68 and auctioned for $156,000.

1948 Franklin Half Dollar

  • Historical Significance: This was the first year of the Franklin half dollar series, replacing the Walking Liberty half dollar.
  • Collector Interest: Being the inaugural year of a series makes the 1948 Franklin half dollar a key date and highly desired by collectors.

1955 Franklin Half Dollar

Low Mintage

  • Details: The 1955 Franklin half dollar had a notably low mintage of just over 2.4 million coins.
  • Rarity: This makes it a key date within the Franklin series.
  • Value: High-grade examples of this coin can be worth a significant amount, with prices rising substantially for coins in mint state.

1964 Kennedy Half Dollar (90% Silver)

  • Details: The first year of the Kennedy half dollar, struck to commemorate President John F. Kennedy following his assassination.
  • Silver Content: These coins were made from 90% silver, adding intrinsic value.
  • Rarity: While 1964 Kennedy half dollars are relatively common, high-grade examples or those with special features can be quite valuable.

1964 Accented Hair Kennedy Half Dollar

Proof Coin

  • Details: This variety features extra hair detail above Kennedy’s ear, which was modified after the initial proofs were struck. It also has a missing serif on the “I” in LIBERTY.
  • Rarity: Less than 5% of the 1964 proof coins have this design.
  • Value: An example graded PF68 deep cameo was auctioned for $19,975.

1970-D Kennedy Half Dollar

Low Mintage

  • Details: This coin was only available in mint sets, not for general circulation.
  • Rarity: Its limited availability makes it one of the scarcest Kennedy half dollars.
  • Value: High-grade examples can fetch high prices, with MS67 or higher being particularly valuable.

1976 Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollar

Special Issue

  • Details: Struck to commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial, these coins feature a dual date (1776-1976) and a special reverse design.
  • Collector Interest: While many were minted, high-grade examples, especially in silver proof sets, are valuable.
  • Value: Exceptional condition coins or those with unique features like a deep cameo can be worth significantly more than face value.

1987-P and 1987-D Kennedy Half Dollars

Mint Set Only

  • Details: These coins were not released for general circulation and were only available in mint sets.
  • Rarity: Their limited release makes them rare, particularly in high grades.
  • Value: High-grade coins from this year are prized by collectors.

1998-S Kennedy Half Dollar (Matte Proof)

Special Issue

  • Details: Included in a special two-coin set commemorating Robert F. Kennedy, this coin features a unique matte finish.
  • Rarity: Limited mintage makes this coin special.
  • Value: Matte proofs are highly valued by collectors, especially in perfect grades.

1992-1998 Silver Proof Kennedy Half Dollars

90% Silver Proofs

  • Details: These coins were struck for collectors and contain 90% silver.
  • Collector Interest: Their silver content and proof status make them more valuable than clad counterparts.
  • Value: High-grade examples or those with deep cameo contrast are particularly sought after.

1971-D Kennedy Half Dollar

High Grade

  • Details: The 1971-D is not particularly rare in lower grades, but finding one in MS67 or higher is extremely difficult.
  • Value: In grades higher than MS68, these coins are almost impossible to find. Any in such high grades would be worth a fortune, with one example graded MS61 fetching $13,000 at an auction.

Tips for Identifying Rare Half Dollars

Check the Date

  • Certain years, like 1948, 1955, and 1970, are key dates for different series of half dollars. These dates often correspond to low mintage or special issues.

Mint Marks

  • Mint marks like “D” for Denver or “S” for San Francisco can indicate where a coin was struck. Some mint marks are associated with rare varieties or low production runs.

Condition

  • The condition of a coin, known as its grade, significantly affects its value. Coins with minimal wear, clear details, and no damage are more valuable.

Unique Features

  • Look for coins with unique features, such as the Accented Hair on the 1964 Kennedy half dollar or errors in the minting process. These features can make a coin particularly rare and valuable.

Silver Content

  • Half dollars made before 1971 often contain silver. Coins with higher silver content are generally more valuable due to the intrinsic worth of the metal.

Conclusion

Collecting half dollars can be a rewarding hobby, especially when you come across rare and valuable coins. By paying attention to key dates, mint marks, condition, unique features, and silver content, you can identify and appreciate the rarity and value of these fascinating pieces of numismatic history. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting, always keep an eye out for those hidden treasures that might be worth a fortune.

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FAQs About Rare Half Dollars

1. What makes a half dollar coin rare and valuable?

Several factors can make a half dollar coin rare and valuable, including its date of issue, mint mark, condition, silver content, and unique features like design variations or minting errors. Coins with low mintage numbers or those struck for special occasions often carry higher value.

2. How can I tell if my half dollar is made of silver?

Half dollars minted before 1971 are generally made of silver. Specifically, those minted in 1964 are 90% silver, and those minted from 1965 to 1970 are 40% silver. You can also check the edge of the coin; silver coins will not show a distinct copper stripe, unlike more modern clad coins.

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3. What is the significance of the 1964 Accented Hair Kennedy half dollar?

The 1964 Accented Hair Kennedy half dollar is significant because it features a unique design with extra hair detail above Kennedy’s ear. This design was only used briefly before being modified, making it rare. Additionally, the proof coins with this design are highly sought after by collectors.

4. Why are some mint marks more valuable than others?

Mint marks indicate where a coin was produced, and some mints produced fewer coins than others, making their mint marks more valuable. For example, coins from the Denver (“D”) or San Francisco (“S”) mints might be rarer and more valuable if fewer were produced compared to coins from the Philadelphia mint.

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5. How can I determine the grade of my half dollar coin?

To determine the grade of your half dollar coin, you may want to consult a professional coin grading service like the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). These organizations use a standardized scale to grade coins based on their condition, including factors like luster, strike, and preservation.

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