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The Ultimate Kennedy Half Dollar: Why Collectors Love It

The Kennedy Half Dollar is one of America’s most cherished coins, celebrated not just for its historical significance but also for its enduring appeal among collectors. First minted in 1964, this coin was introduced to commemorate President John F. Kennedy after his assassination. Over the years, the Kennedy Half Dollar has become a favorite among numismatists for various reasons. In this article, we will explore the history, design, varieties, and reasons why collectors love the Kennedy Half Dollar.

Introduction to the Kennedy Half Dollar

The Kennedy Half Dollar was created as a tribute to President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in November 1963. The coin was first issued in 1964, a mere four months after his death. The U.S. Mint quickly moved to honor the fallen president, with Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts designing the obverse and Frank Gasparro designing the reverse.

Kennedy Half Dollar

Historical Significance

The introduction of the Kennedy Half Dollar was a historic moment. It was not only a tribute to a beloved president but also marked a shift in the way America commemorated its leaders. The coin was released at a time when the nation was mourning and looking for ways to remember President Kennedy’s legacy.

Design of the Kennedy Half Dollar

Obverse Design

The obverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar features a portrait of President Kennedy, designed by Gilroy Roberts. This design is based on a bust Roberts created for a presidential medal. The portrait is flanked by the words “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST,” with the year of minting below.


Reverse Design

The reverse of the coin, designed by Frank Gasparro, features the Presidential Seal. This design includes a heraldic eagle with a shield, clutching an olive branch and arrows. Above the eagle is a ring of stars, symbolizing the 50 states, with the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “HALF DOLLAR” surrounding the seal.

Kennedy Half Dollar

Varieties and Key Dates

The Kennedy Half Dollar has seen numerous varieties and changes over the years, making it a fascinating series for collectors.


1964 Silver Kennedy Half Dollar

The first Kennedy Half Dollars minted in 1964 were struck in 90% silver. These coins are highly prized by collectors for their silver content and historical significance.

1965-1970 Clad Kennedy Half Dollars

From 1965 to 1970, the coins were struck in a 40% silver-clad composition. These coins are also popular among collectors, particularly the 1966 Special Mint Set and the 1970-D, which were not released for general circulation.


Post-1970 Copper-Nickel Clad Coins

Starting in 1971, the Kennedy Half Dollar was minted in a copper-nickel clad composition. Although these coins have no silver content, certain issues, such as those from the Bicentennial series (1975-1976) with the dual date and special reverse design, are especially sought after.

Proof and Uncirculated Sets

The U.S. Mint has also released Kennedy Half Dollars in special proof and uncirculated sets, often featuring higher quality strikes and finishes. These sets are popular among collectors for their superior craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal.

Kennedy Half Dollar

Why Collectors Love the Kennedy Half Dollar

Historical Connection

For many collectors, the Kennedy Half Dollar represents a tangible connection to an important period in American history. The coin’s association with President Kennedy, a symbol of hope and progress, adds emotional and historical value.

Varieties and Challenges

The numerous varieties and changes in composition offer collectors a diverse and challenging series to complete. From the 1964 silver issues to the modern clad coins, there is always something new to discover.


Aesthetic Appeal

The Kennedy Half Dollar is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful American coins. The detailed portraits and the intricate Presidential Seal on the reverse make it a standout piece in any collection.

Investment Potential

Silver content in the early issues and the popularity of the series as a whole mean that Kennedy Half Dollars can also be a sound investment. Key dates and high-grade examples can command significant premiums.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Why was the Kennedy Half Dollar created?
    • The Kennedy Half Dollar was created to honor President John F. Kennedy after his assassination in 1963.
  2. What are the most valuable Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • Some of the most valuable include the 1964 silver issues, the 1966 Special Mint Set, the 1970-D, and certain proof and uncirculated coins.
  3. Are Kennedy Half Dollars still in circulation?
    • While Kennedy Half Dollars are still minted, they are not commonly found in everyday circulation. They are primarily produced for collectors.
  4. What makes the 1970-D Kennedy Half Dollar special?
    • The 1970-D was not released for general circulation and is considered a key date in the series, making it highly desirable among collectors.
  5. How can I start collecting Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • Start by researching key dates and varieties, purchasing from reputable dealers, and considering both circulated and uncirculated coins for your collection.
  6. What is the composition of Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • Kennedy Half Dollars from 1964 are 90% silver, those from 1965-1970 are 40% silver-clad, and those from 1971 onward are copper-nickel clad.
  7. Are there any error coins in the Kennedy Half Dollar series?
    • Yes, like many coin series, there are error coins such as double dies, off-center strikes, and others that can be valuable.
  8. What is a proof Kennedy Half Dollar?
    • Proof coins are specially made for collectors with a higher quality finish and more detail than regular circulation coins.
  9. 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.
  10. What are the Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollars?
    • The Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollars were minted in 1975-1976 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of American independence, featuring a special reverse design with Independence Hall.


The Kennedy Half Dollar continues to captivate collectors with its rich history, beautiful design, and connection to a pivotal moment in American history. From its inception in 1964 to its modern incarnations, this coin series offers a diverse and rewarding collecting experience. Whether you are drawn to the silver content of the early issues, the intricate designs, or the challenge of completing a set, the Kennedy Half Dollar stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of President John F. Kennedy and the artistry of American coinage. As you delve into collecting these iconic coins, you’ll find not just a hobby, but a journey through history, art, and culture. Happy collecting!


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