US Half Dollars

US Half Dollar – Largest Circulating Coin • The US half dollar is the largest circulating coin struck by the US Mint, with the Kennedy half dollar weighing 11.34 grams and measuring 30.61 mm in diameter. The half dollar is also called a 50-cent piece, and in an old rhyming cheer has been referred to as "four bits."

Authorized by the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792

The first US half dollars were struck in December 1794, the year the first mint was built in Philadelphia.

US Half Dollar Design

Since 1794, the half dollar has had two distinct periods of design, beginning with the early classics: Flowing Hair, Draped Bust, Capped Bust, Liberty Seated and Barber (named for its designer Charles E. Barber). Modern half dollar designs that make the US half dollar highly collectible are Liberty Walking, Franklin and Kennedy.

Issuing Mints

The Philadelphia Mint has struck US half dollars since 1794. In 1838, New Orleans became the first branch mint to issue US half dollars, followed by the San Francisco Mint in 1855, the Carson City Mint in 1870 and the Denver Mint in 1906. The New Orleans Mint closed in 1909 and the Carson City Mint in 1893.

Since 2002, Kennedy half dollars have been struck in limited quantities only by Philadelphia and Denver for collectors, and made available in mint sets, rolls and bags.

Special Issues

The Franklin half dollar was the first circulating US coin to depict a non-president. It was replaced by the Kennedy half dollar in 1964 to honor our revered fallen president.

The bicentennial half dollar, dual-dated 1776-1976, featured President Kennedy on the obverse and Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the reverse. This special half dollar was issued only in 1975 and 1976, for circulation as well as Proof coins and in Uncirculated sets.

In 2014, the West Point Mint issued a one-year-only gold 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar.

In 2016, the West Point Mint struck a one-year-only gold 100th anniversary Liberty Walking half dollar to honor the beloved coin motif by designer A.A. Weinman that was issued 1916-1947.