Half Dollar Value - How much are Kennedy Half Dollars Worth? July 08 2014
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In this article, I will discuss the values of Kennedy half dollars, minted from 1964 to the present. The Kennedy half dollar, as you might guess, was created to honor President John F. Kennedy. After his assassination in 1963, Congress quickly and unanimously passed a bill to replace the half dollar's current Benjamin Franklin design with a portrait of Kennedy.
For the first year, Kennedy half dollars (along with all quarters and dimes) were struck in 90% silver. But silver prices, which had been rising sharply for several years, soon reached the point where it was no longer cost-effective for the U.S. Mint to produce silver coins for general circulation. In 1965 the dime and quarter were switched to a composition of copper-nickel, to match the 5-cent nickel. There was more resistance to changing the composition of the Kennedy half dollar - no politician wanted to be the one who voted in favor of switching the popular president's coin to a base metal composition. In the end, Kennedy half dollars stayed silver for six more years (from 1965-1970), though with a reduction in silver purity from 90% to 40%. It wasn't until 1971 that all circulating Kennedy half dollars were switched to a copper-nickel alloy.
In terms of half dollar value, the more silver the higher the price. The value of a 1964 half dollar depends heavily on the price of silver. 1964 half dollars (as well as their 40% silver brothers) were hoarded heavily, so their numismatic (collectible) value is relatively low compared to their silver bullion value. Each 90% silver 1964 half dollar contains 0.36 troy ounces of silver, and each 40% silver 1965-1970 half dollar contains about 0.15 troy ounces. At current silver prices ($21/oz), the 1964 half dollar is worth $7.50 in silver alone, plus an additional dollar or two in numismatic value. The 1965-1970 half dollars are worth $3 in silver, with negligible numismatic value. Coins in better than average condition are worth slightly more, though the premium for mint state coins isn't very large.
Post-1970 copper-nickel half dollars are worth relatively little compared to their silver predecessors. For all circulated half dollars (those showing signs of wear from being used), the collectible value is close to nil - those coins are worth only face value. That includes the 1976 bicentennial half dollar, which was produced in very large quantities. But in addition to the copper-nickel 1976 half dollar, which was produced for general circulation, a separate 40% silver version was sold directly to collectors for a small premium. The way to identify these silver 1976 half dollars is to find the mintmark, indicating which U.S. mint facility produced the coin. 1976 half dollars with an 'S' mintmark, for the San Francisco Mint, are the 40% silver version and are worth upwards of $5 (at current silver prices). For all uncirculated copper-nickel half dollars (those with no signs of wear), there is a little more variance in terms of value, with a few relatively more valuable dates.
The table below is a price guide to the Kennedy half dollar series, divided by condition and mintmark ("D" = Denver mint, "S" = San Francisco mint, and "P", or no mintmark = Philadelphia mint). You can find the mintmark above the date and below Kennedy's neckline (see image). Silver coin prices are based on the current value of silver ($21/oz as of this writing). All other prices derived from A Guide Book of United States Coins (AKA The Red Book).