Kennedy half dollar
The Kennedy half dollar, first minted in 1964, is a fifty-cent coin currently issued by the United States Mint. Intended as a memorial to the assassinated 35th president of the United States John F. Kennedy, it was authorized by Congress just over a month after his death. Use of existing works by Mint sculptors Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro allowed dies to be prepared quickly, and striking of the new coins began in January 1964.
|Value||50 cents (.50 US dollar)|
1965-1970: 11.50 g.
1964: 12.50 g
|Composition||Outer layer of 75% copper, 25% nickel clad to pure copper core.|
1965–1970: outer layer of 80% silver, 20% copper clad to core of 79% copper, 21% silver; totaling 60% copper, 40% silver.
1964: 90% silver, 10% copper
|Gold||2014 commemorative version: 0.999 fine gold, 0.75 troy oz|
|Silver||Silver collectors' versions:|
1976: 40% fine, 0.37 troy oz.
Silver proofs 1992-2018: 90% fine, 0.402 troy oz.
Silver proofs since 2019: 99.9% fine, 0.37 troy oz
|Years of minting||1964–present|
|Mint marks||P, D, S, W. "W" mint mark only on 2014 commemorative issue. Mint mark located beneath where the eagle's claws grasp the olive branch on reverse for 1964 coins and for 1964-2014-W gold issue; above the date on the obverse for all other issues. Mint mark omitted on all coins from 1965 to 1967 and on Philadelphia Mint issues before 1980.|
|Design||Left profile of John F. Kennedy|
|Design date||1964 to present|
|Design||Modified presidential seal|
|Design date||1964 to present, excepting 1975 and 1976|
|Designer||Seth G. Huntington|
|Design date||1975 and 1976 (dated 1776–1976)|
The silver coins were hoarded upon their release in March 1964 by collectors and those interested in a memento of the late president. Although the Mint greatly increased production, the denomination was seldom seen in circulation. Continued rises in the price of silver increased the hoarding—many early Kennedy half dollars have been melted for their silver content. Starting with 1965-dated pieces, the percentage of fine silver was reduced from 90% to 40% (silver clad), but even with this change the coin saw little circulation.
In 1971, silver was eliminated entirely from the coins and production increased, but the half dollar still saw only a minor increase in usage. A special design for the reverse of the half dollar was issued for the United States Bicentennial and was struck in 1975 and 1976. In addition to business strikes, special collector coins were struck for the Bicentennial in silver clad; silver proof sets in which the dime, quarter and half dollar were struck in 90% silver were first minted in 1992. In 2014, a special 50th anniversary edition of the Kennedy half dollar was also struck in 99.99% gold.
Even though ample supplies of circulating half dollars are readily available from most banks, their circulation is still limited. Production of Kennedy half dollars for general circulation ended in 2001, and from 2002 to 2020, Kennedy half dollars were struck to satisfy the demand from collectors, sold at a premium through the Mint. In 2021, Kennedy half dollars began again to be produced for general circulation.