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About US Half Dollars

Since the first mints established in 1794, when the flowing hair version was minted, the U.S. half dollar has proven a mainstay in U.S. currency and stands only second to the U.S. cent when it comes to its consistency of production. Its dies have been less consistent, however. Congress did not take to the flowing hair coin of 1794 and, lo, two years later, the U.S. bust half-dollar appeared. The bust half dollar was followed with the seated liberty coin in 1839, the U.S. Barber half dollars in 1892, walking liberty in 1916, the Franklin in 1948, and the Kennedy 1 in 1964. Kennedy 1 refers to the first die used by the mint, but frowned upon by the slain president?s widow, Jackie Kennedy, because the lines in her husband?s hair were too deeply pressed, making him look older than he was at time of death. Probably less than 3 percent of the proof halves are Kennedy 1?s, making them desirable to collectors. There are still enough U.S. half dollars in circulation and at coin shops for the collecting newcomer to economically start a series, whether it consists of Kennedys or Franklins. At the same time, even a two-hundred-year-old U.S. bust half dollar, in "very nice" condition, is found from reliable eBay sellers. With the mysterious absence in circulation of any one of the 150,000 half dollars minted in 1804, and the vagaries of a president?s widow 160 years hence, half dollars remain a jewel in the collector?s eye.