1964 would introduce the Kennedy Half Dollar to honor President John F. Kennedy who was assassinated on November 22, 1963. This would be the only year that the Kennedy Half Dollar would be composed of 90% silver in circulation. The Coinage Act of 1965 would take silver out of dimes and quarters, but reduce the silver content in half dollars. The years 1965 to 1969 would only have 40% silver, and after 1970, silver was removed from the circulating Half Dollar. Expecting a large demand for these new Half Dollars, the Philadelphia minted 273 million half dollars and Denver minted 156 million. To put this in perspective, there were more 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars minted than the whole Franklin Half Dollar collection minted between 1948 and 1963. This would also be the last year that Philadelphia would mint Proof Coins and produced almost 4 million of them. At the top of this post are 2 1964 Proof Kennedy Half Dollars. They are both graded Proof-68 by NGC, but there is one difference between the 2 Half Dollars.
Accented Hair Half Dollar
The left Half Dollar was one of the first Kennedy Half Dollars minted in January, 1964. These Half Dollars had heavily accented hair above the ear. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t like this accented hair and asked for a change. There was no idea how many were initially minted, but it is estimated between 3% and 5% of the total Proof Half Dollars that year. That would come to somewhere between 120,000 and 200,000 heavily accented Half Dollars.
Normal Half Dollar
The remainder of the year, the Proof Kennedy Half Dollars were minted with less accented hair above the ear. There would be around 3.8 million Half Dollars looking like this in 1964.
1964 Half Dollars are still popular today. Some collectors will go through numbers of coin rolls to find this 90% Silver Coin. Of course, they were easier to find when I was a kid than today. I’m sure a number of them have been melted over the years. Do you have any of these half dollars?