About Quarters and Half Dollars

Ben Franklin medallion and Franklin half dollar

Benjamin Franklin's image has been widely featured, including on this 1777 clay medallion and on the 90% silver Franklin half dollars of 1948-1963.

Quarters have become the most widely used U.S. coins with the rising cost of small items and the proliferation of vending and other coin-operated devices that do not accept half dollar or dollar coins. From their introduction in 1796 until 1930, U.S. quarters featured various images of Liberty with designs known as Draped Bust, Capped Bust, Liberty Seated, Barber and Standing Liberty. Washington quarters, introduced in 1932 on the bicentennial of George Washington's birth, followed a new 20th century trend of depicting prominent presidents on circulating U.S. coins. Quarters were struck in silver until 1965, and since then are struck in a copper-nickel alloy.

Statehood quarters of 1999-2008, D.C. and U.S. Territories quarters of 2009, and National Park quarters of 2010-2021 bear the familiar obverse portrait of George Washington, but feature special reverses honoring each jurisdiction or a national park or site within the jurisdiction.

Half dollars were widely used in American commerce from their debut in 1794 until the 1970s when a vast array of coin-operated devices were introduced that did not accept 50¢ coins. Liberty designs on half dollars included the Flowing Hair, Draped Bust, Capped Bust, Liberty Seated, Barber and Liberty Walking motifs. Franklin halves of 1948-1963 were the first circulating U.S. coins to depict a non-president, and were replaced in 1964 by Kennedy half dollars bearing the likeness of a revered fallen leader. Kennedy halves since 2002 have been struck in limited quantities for collectors and have not been released for circulation.


Half Dollars