Value of a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar October 13 2014
In this article, I'm going to give a brief overview of the Kennedy half dollar series, focusing on the first-year 1964 half dollar. To skip the chatter and fast-forward to the half dollar price guide, scroll down or click the link. You might also be interested in our price guide to the entire Kennedy series.
Despite its infrequent appearances in general circulation, the Kennedy half dollar remains one of the most popular modern coins to come out of the U.S. Mint. After John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill to honor the late president by adding his image to the half dollar coin. Kennedy would replace Benjamin Franklin on the coin—so-called "Franklin half dollars" had been produced since 1948. Kennedy was also considered for the quarter but Jackie Kennedy requested the half dollar design instead, as she thought it less fitting to have George Washington replaced.
When the new coins were first released to the public in 1964, demand was immense. The late president's popularity, coupled with the novelty of a new coin, led to massive hoarding of 1964 Kennedy half dollar coins. To keep up with the demand, the U.S. Mint produced an unprecedented 430 million coins dated 1964 - more than the entire mintage of the Franklin half dollar series. Thanks to that, 1964 half dollars are readily affordable today in any condition.
1964 was also the final year that the Mint produced dimes, quarters, and half dollars in a 90% silver alloy. In 1965, due to the rising price of silver, the Mint switched to a copper-nickel alloy for dimes and quarters, and a 40% silver alloy for half dollars. Half dollars were struck in the 40% alloy for six more years, until finally being switched to copper-nickel as well in 1971. With its 90% silver composition, the 1964 50-cent piece contains about 1/3rd of an ounce of silver. Because it is such a common coin, the price of silver largely determines the value of the 1964 half. While coins were produced at both the Philadelphia and Denver mints (Denver coins can be identified by a "D" mintmark under Kennedy's bust), both year/mintmark combinations are worth the same amount. The price guide below breaks it down. All values are taken from the Red Book, a Guide Book of United States Coins.