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U.S. Half Dollar Coins

Half Dollars were in general production for circulation until 2002. Today, collector coins are still made by the U.S. Mint, but new versions are not being put into general circulation. A half dollar may be distinguished by the year, design, and composition.

What are important features of a half dollar coin?There are several things that collectors look at in regard to half dollars. Some designs or years may be more likely to be collected, or collectors might want coins of specific metals. A few of the key elements are:
  • Supply
  • Survival Rate
  • Demand
  • Metal
  • Condition
What are the different designs for half dollars?
  • Early Designs:The first half dollar produced was the flowing hair design, which was minted between 1794 and 1795. Following that, there are three versions of the draped bust from 1796 through 1807. The capped bust was next, produced from 1807 through 1831. Seated liberty was produced in three versions between 1839 and 1891. Barber was produced from 1892-1915 and walking liberty was released from 1916-1947.
  • Franklin: Between 1948 and 1963, the half dollar was produced with a picture of Benjamin Franklin on the front the liberty bell on the back. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross admired the founding father and wanted him to be depicted on a coin.
  • Kennedy: Following John F. Kennedy's assassination, the Kennedy Half Dollar was created. After their initial release, the coins were silver. Beginning in 1965, the percentage of silver was reduced from 90% to 40%. Starting in 1971, silver was removed entirely from the Kennedy Half Dollar, other than specially produced limited editions. Special designs and compositions were released in 1976 for the bicentennial, and a special 99.99% gold coin was produced in 2014.
How much silver is in a half dollar?

The amount of silver will vary based on the specific date and design of your half dollar. Original silver coins were made of 90% silver and 10% copper. In 1965, the U.S. Mint introduced layered versions of coins with a copper core. At that time, the silver content of dimes and quarters was eliminated, but the Kennedy half dollar still contained 40% silver. In 1971, even the Kennedy half dollar had been changed to match the quarter's composition. Today, the Mint does not circulate new versions of the half dollar, but non-circulated sets are created as collector's items by the Mint.

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