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The Most Sought-After Kennedy Half Dollar: Rarity and Value

The Kennedy Half Dollar is a coin that has fascinated collectors since its debut in 1964. This coin, featuring the image of President John F. Kennedy, was quickly minted following his assassination in 1963. Over the years, several varieties of the Kennedy Half Dollar have become highly sought after by numismatists due to their rarity and value. In this article, we will delve into the most coveted Kennedy Half Dollars, exploring what makes them so special and valuable.

Introduction to the Kennedy Half Dollar

The Kennedy Half Dollar was introduced in 1964 to honor the late President John F. Kennedy. Designed by Gilroy Roberts (obverse) and Frank Gasparro (reverse), the coin’s creation was a swift response to national mourning. The initial coins were struck in 90% silver, but the composition has changed over time. Today, the Kennedy Half Dollar is primarily a collector’s item, with many rare and valuable versions capturing the interest of numismatists.

Kennedy Half Dollars

Key Factors in Rarity and Value

Several factors contribute to the rarity and value of Kennedy Half Dollars:

  1. Mintage Numbers: Coins with lower mintage numbers tend to be rarer and more valuable.
  2. Mint Marks: Coins minted at certain facilities, such as the Denver (D) or San Francisco (S) mints, can be more desirable.
  3. Condition: Coins in better condition (higher grades) are generally more valuable.
  4. Varieties and Errors: Certain varieties and minting errors can make a coin exceptionally valuable.
  5. Silver Content: Early Kennedy Half Dollars with high silver content are particularly prized.

The Most Sought-After Kennedy Half Dollars

1964 Silver Kennedy Half Dollar

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was the first year of issue and was struck in 90% silver. These coins are highly sought after, especially those in uncirculated condition or with proof finishes.


1964 Accented Hair Proof

A subset of the 1964 proofs, the “Accented Hair” variety, is distinguished by more pronounced hair details above Kennedy’s ear. These are rarer and thus more valuable than standard proofs.

1965-1970 40% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars

From 1965 to 1970, the Kennedy Half Dollar was minted in a 40% silver-clad composition. Key dates like the 1966 Special Mint Set and the 1970-D (only available in mint sets) are particularly valuable.


1970-D Kennedy Half Dollar

The 1970-D is notable for being the last year the coin was struck in 40% silver, and it was not released for general circulation. Its limited availability makes it a key date for collectors.

Kennedy Half Dollars

1998-S Matte Proof

The 1998-S Matte Proof Kennedy Half Dollar was included in the Robert F. Kennedy commemorative set and is notable for its unique matte finish. Its limited mintage adds to its desirability.


2014 50th Anniversary Gold Proof

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Half Dollar, the U.S. Mint released a gold proof version in 2014. Its gold content and commemorative nature make it a valuable addition to any collection.

Collecting Tips for Kennedy Half Dollars

1. Research and Education

Understanding the history and details of the Kennedy Half Dollar series is essential. Study the different varieties, key dates, and mint marks to make informed decisions.


2. Condition Matters

Always consider the condition of the coin. Higher-grade coins (MS-60 and above) are more desirable. Look for coins with minimal wear and strong details.

3. Seek Professional Grading

For valuable coins, professional grading by a reputable service (such as PCGS or NGC) can authenticate and grade the coin, often increasing its value and ease of resale.


4. Focus on Key Dates and Varieties

Targeting key dates and varieties, such as the 1964 Accented Hair Proof or the 1970-D, can be a strategic way to build a valuable collection.

Kennedy Half Dollars

5. Buy from Reputable Sources

Purchase coins from reputable dealers or auctions to ensure authenticity and fair pricing. Avoid deals that seem too good to be true, as counterfeit coins are a risk.


6. Store Coins Properly

Proper storage in a cool, dry place, using holders or albums designed for coin protection, will help preserve the condition and value of your collection.

7. Join a Coin Club

Joining a coin club or online forum can provide valuable resources, support, and networking opportunities with fellow collectors.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Why are some Kennedy Half Dollars more valuable than others?
    • Factors such as mintage numbers, mint marks, condition, and unique varieties contribute to the value of Kennedy Half Dollars.
  2. What is the most valuable Kennedy Half Dollar?
    • Some of the most valuable include the 1964 Accented Hair Proof, the 1970-D, and the 1998-S Matte Proof due to their rarity and special features.
  3. Are all Kennedy Half Dollars made of silver?
    • No, only Kennedy Half Dollars from 1964 and 1965-1970 contain silver. The 1964 coins are 90% silver, while those from 1965-1970 are 40% silver-clad.
  4. How can I tell if my Kennedy Half Dollar is valuable?
    • Check the coin’s date, mint mark, condition, and any special varieties or errors. Professional grading can also help determine value.
  5. What makes the 1970-D Kennedy Half Dollar special?
    • The 1970-D was not released for general circulation and is the last year of the 40% silver composition, making it a key date for collectors.
  6. Is it worth investing in Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • Yes, especially for key dates, varieties, and higher-grade coins, which can appreciate in value over time.
  7. What is a proof Kennedy Half Dollar?
    • Proof coins are specially struck for collectors with a higher quality finish and more detailed designs compared to regular circulation coins.
  8. Why do some Kennedy Half Dollars have an “S” mint mark?
    • The “S” mint mark indicates that the coin was minted at the San Francisco Mint, often associated with proof coins.
  9. What are the Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • Minted in 1975-1976 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of American independence, these coins feature a special reverse design with Independence Hall and a dual date.
  10. How can I start collecting Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • Begin by researching key dates and varieties, purchasing from reputable dealers, and considering both circulated and uncirculated coins for your collection.


The Kennedy Half Dollar remains a beloved piece of American coinage, offering a rich history and a variety of collecting opportunities. From the first 1964 silver issues to the unique 1998-S Matte Proof, each coin tells a story of American history and artistry. For collectors, the Kennedy Half Dollar provides a fascinating and rewarding journey through numismatics. Whether you’re drawn to its historical significance, aesthetic appeal, or investment potential, the Kennedy Half Dollar stands as a timeless tribute to President John F. Kennedy and an enduring symbol of American pride. Happy collecting!


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