Featuring the Profile of our Popular 35th President, John F. Kennedy
Just a month after his death on November 22, 1963, Congress authorized the U.S. Mint to strike a new coin in tribute to the slain president, a Kennedy half dollar in 90% silver. It entered circulation in 1964, and has become an enduring symbol for a period of modern history filled with enormous purpose and hope.
The Enduring Appeal of the Kennedy Half Dollar
In a poll, the Kennedy Half Dollar ties for the top spot among coin collectors. President Kennedy's famous call to action during his inaugural address in 1961 still resonates: "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." As the first president born in the 20th century and the youngest ever elected, he also was a decorated WWII hero who sought to ease Cold War tensions. Many Kennedy Half Dollar collectors recall how the president proposed federal programs for the elderly and the poor and also launched a drive for a civil-rights bill to end racial segregation.
Kennedy Half Dollar Easy, Affordable to Collect
Kennedy half dollars provides opportunities for coin collectors of all levels. Whether you are starting out or are lured by the thrill of the search for error coins and varieties, you can keep track of your growing Kennedy Half Dollar collection with this handy checklist.
The Mint's chief engraver, Gilroy Roberts, designed the obverse and his initials "GR" can be found in the shaded truncation of JFK's bust. Frank Gasparro, who succeeded Roberts, designed the reverse with the presidential coat of arms; his initials "FG" can be found between the eagle's left leg and tail feathers. The 1964 mint mark was located on the reverse below the olive branch. From 1968 to date, the mint mark appears on the obverse, below the point of the bust truncation and above the year.
Kennedy Half Dollars have been struck at four mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco and West Point. Not all have been struck for circulation. Some years, Kennedy Half Dollars have been issued in Mint and Souvenir Sets only. In 1987, no Kennedy Half Dollars were struck for circulation.
Due to a rise in precious metals in 1965, the silver content in a Kennedy Half Dollar dropped to 40%. In 1971, silver was eliminated altogether, except for a few pieces dated 1971-D and 1977-D that were struck in silver-clad composition by error, plus special collector coins and Proof sets.
Since 2002, Kennedy Half Dollars have been made available to the public only through direct purchase from the Mint in mint sets and rolls of 20 coins or bags of 200 coins. Uncirculated Mint Sets for 2005-2010 were made with Satin Finish Kennedy Half Dollars.
The U.S. Mint has struck a number of special Kennedy Half Dollars, including a dual-dated Kennedy Half Dollar for the nation's Bicentennial Year, plus one in struck in gold at West Point for the Kennedy Half Dollar's 50th anniversary in 2014 that we wrote about in Littleton Coin Company's Heads & Tails blog.Read More... Read Less...