Denver Gold and Silver
600 South Holly Street Suite 103
Denver, Colorado 80246
Open Monday - Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm
Friday 9 am to 2 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm
Call anytime - leave a message: 303-835-8892
dollar coins have been produced nearly every year since the inception
of the United States Mint in 1794. Sometimes referred to as the
fifty-cent piece, the only U.S. coin that has been minted more consistently
is the cent.
dollar coins saw heavy use, particularly in the first half of the
twentieth century. For many years they were commonly used in casinos.
Rolls of half dollars may still be kept on hand in cardrooms for
games requiring 50-cent antes or bring-in bets, for dealers to pay
winning naturals in blackjack, or where the house collects a rake
in increments of 50 cents (usually in low-limit seven-card stud
and its variants). Some slot machines also took in, and paid out
in, 50-cent pieces; however, casinos in recent years have phased
in "coinless" slots for all denominations, taking in paper
dollars, and paying winners through vouchers.
half dollar's circulation, aside from use in some casinos and movie
theaters, has declined significantly. By the early 1960s the value
of silver had risen to the point that it became worthwhile to melt
down U.S. coins for their bullion content. U.S. silver coins (those
of 10-cent value and above, which contained 90 percent silver through
1964) began to disappear from circulation, leading the U.S. to introduce
layered composition coins made of a copper core laminated between
two cupro-nickel outer faces for the 1965present coinage years.
The Kennedy half-dollar design, however, continued to be minted
silver-clad composition from 1965 to 1970, although the silver content
was reduced to 40 percent. To find the value of a half-dollar, multiply
the current market price for silver by 0.36169 for 1964 issues,
and by 0.1479 for issues from 1965 to 1970.
the Kennedy halves were hoarded for sentimental reasons, and because
it was recognized as the only precious metal U.S. coin remaining
in circulation. By the time mintage figures could match normal demand
and the coin's composition was changed to match the newer dimes
and quarters in 1971, both businesses and the public had adapted
to a world in which the half dollar did not generally circulate.
Other uses had been found for the half-dollar section of the cash
drawer. People had gotten used to depending on quarters as the major
component of change.
coins enter circulation through the change drawers of businesses.
Few businesses stock their change drawers with half-dollars, and
many banks do not stock these coins or hand them out as normal business
practice, so the coins do not see much circulation.
U.S. vending machines do not accept half dollars, which further
curtails its circulation. However, American sleight of hand magicians
specializing in coin magic prefer the half dollar for its size and
weight, and it is the most common denomination used for U.S. commemorative
recent years half dollars have been minted only for collectors,
due to large Federal Reserve and government inventories on hand
of pre-2001 pieces, this mostly due to lack of demand and large
quantity returns from casino slot machines that now operate "coinless".
If and when the reserve supply runs low, the mint will again fill
orders for circulation half dollars. It took about 18 years (19811999),
for the large inventory stockpile of a similar low demand circulation
coin, the $1 coin, to reach reserve levels low enough to again produce
circulation pieces. Modern-date half dollars can be purchased in
proof sets, mint sets, rolls, and bags from the U.S. Mint, and existing
inventory circulation pieces can be ordered through most US banks.
All collector issues since 2001 have had much lower mintages than
in previous years. Although intended only for collectors, these
post-2001 half dollars sometimes find their way into circulation.
Half Dollars Flowing Hair All are rare) 1794-1795 $250.00-$2,000.00
Bust Half Dollars Draped Bust, Small Eagle Reverse (All are rare)
Bust Half Dollars Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle Reverse (All are
scarce) 1801-1807 $75.00-$300.00
Bust Half Dollars Capped Bust (Rare dates: 1815; Scarce dates:
1807-1817) 1807-1836 $20.00-$50.00 $300.00-$1,000.00
Reeded Edge Half Dollars Reeded Edge (Rare dates: 1836, 1839-O)
1836-1839 $20.00-$75.00 $500.00-$2,000.00
Seated Half Dollars (Rare dates: 1850, 1851, 1852, 1855-S, 1870-CC,
1871-CC, 1874-CC, 1878-CC, 1878-S, 1879-1890; Many scarce dates)
1839-1891 $8.00-$50.00 $250.00-$500.00
Barber Half Dollars (Rare dates: 1892-O, 1892-S, 1893-S, 1896-S,
1897-O, 1897-S; Scarce dates: 1892-1899, 1901-S, 1904-S, 1913,
1914, 1915) 1892-1915 $7.00-$25.00 $250.00-$500.00
Walking Liberty Half Dollars (Rare dates: 1916-S, 1921, 1921-D;
Scarce dates: 1916-1933, 1938-D) 1916-1947 $7.00-$15.00 $25.00-$50.00
Franklin Half Dollars (No rare dates) 1948-1963 $7.00-$15.00 $10.00-$20.00
Kennedy Half Dollars Silver (Common date) 1964 $7.00-$15.00 $7.00-$15.00
Kennedy Half Dollars Bicentennial (Dated 1776-1976)
(Common date) 1975-1976 Face Value Face Value
Kennedy Half Dollars Silver Clad (No rare dates) 1965-1969 $3.00-$5.00
Kennedy Half Dollars Clad 1971-Present Face Value Face Value
On December 1, 1794 the first half dollars (approximately 5,300
pieces) were delivered. Another 18,000 were produced in January
1795 using dies of 1794, to save the expense of making new ones.
Due to the high production of half dollars from the 1790s, another
30,000 pieces were struck by the end of 1801. The coin had the Heraldic
Eagle, based on the Great Seal of the United States on the reverse.
One of the great mysteries of half dollars was the 150,000 that
were minted in 1804 without one specimen known to exist. The coinage
of 1804 was struck with dies from 1803, accounting for the confusion.
In 1838, half dollar dies were sent to a branch mint for the first
time, when 20 were struck at the New Orleans Mint. The following
year this mint produced nearly 180,000 half dollars.
In 1861 the New Orleans mint produced coins for three different
governments. A total of 330,000 were struck under the United States
government, 1,240,000 for the State of Louisiana after it seceded
from the Union, and 962,633 after it joined the Confederacy. Since
the same die was used for all strikings, the output looks identical.
However the Confederate States of America actually minted four half
dollars with a CSA (rather than USA) reverse and the obverse die
they used had a small die crack. Thus "regular" 1861-O
halves with this crack probably were used by the Confederates for
some of the mass striking.
There are two varieties of Kennedy halves in the proof set issues
of 1964. Initially the die was used with "accented" hair,
showing deeper lines than the president's widow liked. New dies
were prepared to smooth out some of the details. It is estimated
that about 13% (40,000100,000) of the proof halves are of the
earlier type, making them somewhat more expensive for collectors.
Flowing Hair 17941795
* Draped Bust 17961807
o Draped Bust, Small Eagle 17961797
o Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle 18011807
* Capped Bust 18071839
o Capped Bust (Large Size), With Motto 18071836
o Capped Bust (Small Size), No Motto 18361839
* Seated Liberty 18391891
o Seated Liberty, No Motto 18391866
o Seated Liberty, With Motto 18661891
* Barber 18921915
* Walking Liberty 19161947
* Franklin 19481963
* Kennedy 1964 (General circulation issue)  (the last 90% silver
half-dollar for circulation, contains 0.36169 oz. net silver per
coin, or 7.234 oz. silver per roll)
* Kennedy 1992present (silver proof sets available)
Various half dollar designs
percent silver half dollars
* Kennedy 1970 (collectors sets only)
* Kennedy 1976 (only collectors sets produced with 40% silver)
clad half dollars
Kennedy 19711974, 19771986, 19882001 (general circulation issues)
* Kennedy 1987, 2002present (collectors only)
o Kennedy Bicentennial 19751976 (all dated 17761976.)