My Favorite Coin to Collect: Kennedy Half Dollar 10

If you talk to some coin collectors, they’ll tell you they like Morgan Dollars or Seated Liberty Coins or just about any coin that isn’t out currently. I do like Morgan Dollars but I don’t collect them, at least not as I write this. When asked what my favorite coin is, I tell them it is a Kennedy Half Dollar. Then they’ll look at me as if to say, “Kennedy Half Dollars, that’s boring!” I believe a coin collection is what you make of it. If all you do put coins in an album, then yes, it is boring. So, here is my attempt to make Kennedy Half Dollars “not boring”.

What made me decide to collect Kennedy Half Dollars

When I was a kid, I remember getting half dollars in change. Every time I did errands for my mother’s aunts, they would pay me in Kennedy Half Dollars. I think half dollars are the best. The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is the most beautiful circulated coin that was ever minted in the US. I always liked looking at the Kennedy Half Dollar. Unfortunately, the last circulated Kennedy Half Dollars came out in 2001. I remember buying half dollar rolls trying to get the silver halves from the 60’s.

Kennedy Half Dollars are definitely not an investment collection which probably keep some collectors away from them. I’m currently trying to build a NGC slab set of Kennedy’s. For anyone new to coin collecting, NGC stands for National Guaranty Corporation, a company that certifies coins. They grade the coin and seal it in a plastic holder known as a slab. To make it interesting, I’ve acquired some of the uncommon coins described below (except for 1998-S Matte Proof which I purchased directly from the mint when it first came out). Before I talk about the specific coins, a brief intro to the Kennedy Half Dollar.

Brief History

Shortly after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963, Congress authorized to have his face on a coin. Initially, they were thinking of the quarter, but First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy did not want to replace George Washington. Instead, she said she would rather replace Benjamin Franklin on the half dollar. Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts designed the obverse similar to Kennedy’s bust on his medal in the Mint’s Presidential series and Frank Gasparro designed the reverse.

The first year, 1964, would be the only year that the circulated Kennedy Half Dollar was 90% silver. The Coinage Act of 1965 would remove silver from the Roosevelt Dimes and Washington Quarters, but the silver content on the Kennedy Half Dollar was reduced to 40% and would remain that way until 1971 when it would also contain no silver.

1964 Accented Hair Proof20160525_191908

The first proof half dollars had extra hair above Kennedy’s ear. Once again Jacqueline Kennedy stepped in and asked to remove the accented hair. It is estimated that about 3%, or 120,000, of the 1964 proofs have the accented hair making it one of the coin’s rarities.


1970 saw no circulated half dollars. The only place they would be seen that year was in mint and proof sets. With only around 2,150,000 mint sets produced, the 1970-D half dollar would be considered the key date for the set in the early years.

1974-D Double Die Error1974-D Double Die

One of the most common Kennedy Half Dollars errors occurred in 1974. On some of the coins minted in Denver, the letters in TRUST show a double die.

1976 Bicentennial1976 Bicentennial Half Reverse

In 1975 and 1976, the quarter, half dollar and dollar would have a different reverse in honor of the US Bicentennial and about 4,000,000 special mint sets were made with the coins containing 40% silver. The reverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar has a design of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The date on the coin displayed 1776 and 1976 with a dot in between.

1998 Matte Proof

The mint released a 2 coin set containing a Robert Kennedy commemorative dollar and a matte proof Kennedy Half Dollar. Not only a beautifully polished coin, but low mintage at 62,500. Definitely a key date.


2014 50th Anniversary2014ReverseProofHalfObverse

On the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Half Dollar, the mint released 5 coins to commemorate the occasion. This included a 4 coin silver set with a coin from each mint, Philadelphia minted the Proof coin, Denver minted the Uncirculated coin, San Francisco produced the Enhanced Uncirculated coin, and my personal favorite, West Point minted the Reversible Proof, seen here.

What do you like to collect…

or would like to collect. I’d like to know what coins other collectors like.

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10 thoughts on “My Favorite Coin to Collect: Kennedy Half Dollar

  • Alec Terry

    Very interesting article on the origins of the Kennedy Half dollar. My father also had several of these and while you’re right in the fact that it isn’t really a huge collector’s item, its still a really cool piece of American history. And plus you get to learn something new. I had no idea that the Kennedy half dollar came about because Mrs. Kennedy didn’t want to replace George Washington. The more you know!

    • Kevin Post author

      Who would have thought that Jacqueline Kennedy would have had that much influence back then with a coin. She even got the mint to remove the detailed hair above the ear after about 3% the first proof dollars were minted.

      The reasoning behind Congress wanting to put Kennedy on the quarter was about a law that dates back to I think the 1890’s. A coin’s design cannot change for 25 years without congressional approval. The Washington Quarter had been out since 1932 which didn’t need approval from Congress. However, the Franklin Half Dollar was out since 1948. So, it had only been minted for 15 years. For Mrs. Kennedy to get it on the Half Dollar then is amazing. I myself thing she made the right choice.

  • LindaJPederson

    I certainly enjoyed reading this post. It has brought back a lot of fun memories. When I was about elementary school age, my dad used to give me Kennedy half dollars on special occasions. I still have them stashed away in a dresser drawer and now I want to pull them out to see what the dates on them are. Who knows, maybe I have a silver Kennedy half dollar. That would be so cool!

    • Kevin

      I was born a couple of years after they started minting the Kennedy Half Dollar. It is the coin of my lifetime. I like the size, quality, various compositions, etc. What is not to like unless you are collecting them as an investment. I would not consider it.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you have some silver halves between 1964 and 1969, I used to like to find them in half rolls from the bank 30 years ago. Let me know what you find.

  • Chris

    I like to collect pre-1965 coins because they contain 90% silver. For those who don’t collect precious metals, these coins are also known as “junk silver.” 🙂

    Silver coins have a different “ching” sound than post-1964 coins which have copper cores.

    I have a couple of buffalo silver rounds. For shiggles
    I went to a coin shop to see what they offered for them. It turns out they were only willing to pay melt value for them, blah.

    It would be nice if the US would go back on the gold standard again. The currency would have actual inherent value vs the “faith backed” (aka worthless) dollars currently in circulation.

    • Kevin

      I wish they would have had more 90% silver Kennedys than just 1964. What would had been really nice was if they had released the 1964-D Peace Dollars. The government thought most of them would had been hoarded after the Coinage Act of 1965. I always wonder if any of them survived melting.

      I know what you mean about coin shops. When my work hours were cut in half a couple of weeks ago, I had to sell some of my slab coins to keep going. I went to the local coin shop to sell three of my Washington Quarters between 1959 and 1963. One of them was MS-65 and the other two were MS-66. They offered me $20 for the three of them. I said forget it and sold them on Ebay. Averaged $30 per coin. After paying the fees I still made $50 more than I would have at the coin shop.

  • Andrew G

    I can actually remember collecting those along with the dollar coin at one time when I was pretty young. I don’t remember though who was on the dollar coin? Thanks for all those pictures displayed and look forward to more posts like this one in the near future. Maybe you should have subscriber list to send out soon.

    • Kevin Post author

      The dollar coin you are talking about may be the Eisenhower Dollar which came out from 1971 – 1978. I collected those too. They had some 40% silver coins which made it more interesting.

      That’s a good idea about the subscriber list. Maybe I can do that this weekend. Thanks!