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1973 Half Dollar Value Guides (Rare Errors, “D”, “S” and No Mint Mark)

1973 Half Dollar Value Guides (Rare Errors, “D”, “S” and No Mint Mark)

The Half Dollar or 50-Cent coin is the largest piece of pocket change that’s currently circulating in the US. And the 1973 Half Dollar is a Kennedy Half Dollar that was coined from 1964 to 2001 before the mint resumed production in 2021. In 1973, this coin came in a clad cupronickel version to deter silver stackers, so let’s establish the 1973 Half Dollar Value.

1973 Kennedy half dollar value chart

Mint Mark Good (G 4) Uncirculated

(MS 63)

Proof

(PR / PF 65)

1973 (P) No Mint Mark Half Dollar Value $0.08 $2.28 No (P) Proofs
1973-S Proof Half Dollar Value N/A N/A $5.71
1973-D Half Dollar Value $0.08 $2.28 No D-Proofs

History of the 1973 Half Dollar

The American Half Dollar has been in production since 1794. And from 1964 to date, it bears the likeness of President John F. Kennedy, so it’s referred to as the Kennedy Half Dollar. For the first year, it was 90% silver and 10% copper. In 1965, that changed to 40% silver and 60% copper before it settled into today’s composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel in 1971.

When the idea first came up to celebrate JFK on a silver coin, the mint had a bias towards higher coin denominations i.e. 25c, 50c, or $1. But the quarter (25c) had George Washington on it, and Jackie O didn’t want to displace him, so she suggested the Half Dollar instead. It had Benjamin Franklin on it at the time. This was an acceptable compromise for all involved.

Physically, it’s the largest circulated coin, and it’s also the heaviest. JFK was chosen to grace the coin within hours of his assassination on 22nd November 1963. Curiously, he approved the portrait of himself that was used on the coin – or rather, he didn’t disapprove of it. The records state he had no visible reaction, but that the sculptors made a few tweaks anyway.

The portrait they ended up using was the same one from the Presidential Medal Series that the mint creates for every US President. And since he seemed okay with his depiction on the memento, it was a logical choice for his commemorative 50-cent coin. The only variation was his hair detail, requested by Jackie O after she assessed the coin with her brother-in-law.

Her comments meant the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was coined in two varieties. The original (Type 1) had deeper lines and accented hair while Type 2 had some of these details smoothed out. It’s interesting that it only took a month from the conception to the minting of these 50-cent coins. This speed was necessary, and they achieved it by using pre-existing coin designs.

 

Designing the Kennedy Half Dollar

The front – as we’ve mentioned – was the modified Presidential Medal by Chief Mint Engraver Gilroy Roberts, who served from 1948 to 1964. The back was the Presidential Seal done by Frank Gasparro, the incoming Chief Mint Engraver from 1965 to 1981. It was the modified back of the same medal, which featured the seal, two torches, and a quote by JFK.

For the front, Roberts stopped the portrait at the neckline while the original medal bust went down to JFK’s coat collar. And for the back, Gasparro took out the flame holders and the writing. Jackie O and Bobby Kennedy suggested a full or half frontal instead of a profile, like the design used on JFK’s 1962 Appreciation Medal that was gifted to foreign heads of state.

300 of these Appreciation Medals were made, and unlike the later Presidential Medals, the reverse bore the Presidential Seal without the torches or the text. Instead, the seal was centered and the words With Appreciation ran along the top collar. The president’s signature graced the bottom of the coin, and this layout was later applied to the Kennedy Half Dollar.

Regarding the device (that’s the technical name for the portrait or image on a coin), when Jackie and Bobby asked for a full or half portrait, the engravers reminded them of the time crunch, adding the President’s side-shot was more flattering. In the end, millions of JFK Half Dollars were minted, but few circulated. From 2002 to 2020, only collectibles were coined.

 

Features of the 1973 Half Dollar

The 1973 Half Dollar was a JFK. He was the 35th US President and one of the most popular world leaders ever. Lots of people called him Jack, and we often refer to his equally beloved widow as Jackie O aka Jacqueline (Lee Kennedy) Onassis, even though that’s the surname of her second husband. The Kennedy Half Dollar appeared in 1964 after JFK’s assassination.

The Obverse of the 1973 Half Dollar

The Obverse of the 1973 Half Dollar

Image: ngccoin

The obverse (heads side) of the 1973 Half Dollar shows the left-facing profile of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Above his head, the BER in Liberty is partially hidden by his hair. The words In God and We Trust appear on the left and right sides of his neck respectively.

The mint date runs along the lower collar of the coin with the mint mark between the date and the neckline cut-off. That cut-off also contains the monogram GR for Gilroy Roberts, the coin’s designer. People mistook his initials for a communist hammer and sickle symbol.

The Reverse of the 1973 Half Dollar

The Reverse of the 1973 Half Dollar

The reverse (tails side) of the 1973 Half Dollar features the Presidential Seal, a detailed device with lots of meaning. It comprises an eagle with 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. 50 stars surround the bird, with 13 more above its head, and 13 clouds.

The reverse was designed by Mint Engraver Frank Gasparro, and you’ll see FG between the eagle’s tail and its arrow-wielding leg. The top of the coin reads United States of America and the bottom reads Half Dollar. E Pluribus Unum sits in a scroll-like sash over the eagle’s head.

Other Features of the 1973 Half Dollar

Earlier Kennedy Half Dollars were 90% silver for the first year, then 40% silver until 1970. The silver was blended with copper. That changed in 1971, so in 1973, the Half Dollar had today’s metal mix of 91.67% copper with a top coat of 8.33% nickel to get the coloring right. Its pure copper core is plated with a clad cupronickel alloy that’s 75% copper and 25% nickel.

The coin weighs 11.34g and is 30.61mm in diameter, which makes the mint mark look tiny! Don’t let that fool you though – it’s the same size mint mark you’ll find on all the other US coins. This coin has a reeded edge with 150 reeds and is 2.15mm thick. Hardly any of these coins made it into circulation, both because of sentimental JFK hoarding and silver stacking.

 

1973 Half Dollar Value Guide

When the Kennedy Half Dollar was released in 1964, most people kept the coins in a special safe spot as a memento of this beloved president. Others kept the coin because silver prices were quite high in the early 1960s. But even after the mint reduced the coin’s silver content – and eventually eliminated it to alleviate the coin shortage – this 50c continued to be stashed.

1973 (P) No Mint Mark Half Dollar Value

In 1973, the Philadelphia Mint coined 64,964,000 JFK Half Dollars without mint marks. And based on the current price of copper (November 2022), the melt value of a JFK Half Dollar is roughly 8 cents. One 1973 (P) No Mint Mark Half Dollar in MS 67 sold for $285.

1973-S Half Dollar Value

1973-S Half Dollar Value

Starting in 1974, The San Francisco Mint exclusively made proof coins for collectors and archives. The year before, in 1973, they made 2,760,339 50-cent proofs. Deep Cameo (from PCGS) or Ultra Cameo (from NGC) is the top grade for proofs. And a 1973-S Proof D-CAM Half Dollar in PR 70 – the highest possible grade – was $3,400. Another sold for $4,887.50.

1973-D Half Dollar Value

1973-D Half Dollar Value

83,171,400 JFK Half Dollars exited the Denver Mint in 1973, and they all bore the D Mint Mark. A 1973-D Half Dollar in MS 67 sold for $1,000 while an MS 68 went for more than $11,000. But most 1973 Denver Half Dollars are worth the melt value of its copper content.

 

1973 Half Dollar Errors

Even the freshest newbie knows coin errors can be worth money. But while some will only get you $10 or $20, others can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It’s all about the type and grade. It helps to get the error verified by professionals like PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) or NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation). So let’s check some out!

1973 Half Dollar Double Denomination Error

If a coin is minted on a blank from a different denomination (e.g. a half dollar or a quarter planchet), that’s a wrong planchet error. But if the die is stamped on a pre-existing coin that has already been minted, that’s called a double denomination error. In this case, the 50c coin was stamped on a 1972-D 25c coin, so it has both devices. In MS 67, it hit $11,000 at auction!

1973 Half Dollar DDO Error

1973 Half Dollar DDO Error

Image: pcgs

A double die error (DDO) happens at the die stage when the hub is striking the master copy. If the die shifts between hub strikes, it may cause doubling that will be reproduced on every coin that flawed die makes. The easiest spot to identify die doubling is on the numbers and words (i.e. the motto and mint date). In MS 65, this 1973 Half Dollar DDO is worth $445.

1973 Half Dollar Cud Error

A cud error or die break is when an old or damaged die transfers its flaws onto the planchet. Die cracks sometimes look like gashes or deep slashes, but a die break appears like a portion of the coin chipped off, often around the collar. The cud on this ungraded 1973 Half Dollar chopped off ‘19’ on the obverse and blurred ‘States’ on the reverse. It sold for $200 on eBay.

1973 Half Dollar Double Strikes Both Off-Centre

Coins receive multiple strikes at the hub, die, and minting stage. And if the metal moves between strikes, it can cause doubling, tripling, or off-center errors. This 1973 Half Dollar has an off-center blemish that left blank spots on the upper right obverse and the lower right reverse, deforming the coin’s shape. In PF 68 Ultra Cameo, it auctioned for $15,600 in 2021.

1973 Half Dollar Struck on a Bronze Planchet

In 1973, Half Dollars were nickel-clad. And although the coin was struck on a base metal planchet, its value could shoot higher than the melt value of earlier silver coins. If the blank got deformed during minting, that could boost the selling price. This sample has misshapen sides so it’s a deep oval, and the mutilated coin in PR 66 BN was sold in 2018 for $7,800.

1973 Half Dollar Five-Strike Error

DDOs and DDRs are fairly common, and you may even bump into triple-die or quadruple-die errors. But a quintuple-die error is rare and can be worth quite a lot. This proof coin has five error strikes that create the illusion of infinite reflections, like when mirrors bounce off each other and seem to cascade endlessly. Heritage auctioned this proof coin for $4,320 in 2020.

 

FAQs About the 1973 Half Dollar

What Makes a 1973 Half Dollar Rare?

The 1973 Half Dollar isn’t especially rare. But since so many JFK Half Dollars left the mint and immediately landed in cigar boxes and sock drawers where they spent their lifetimes, these 50-cent coins seem especially rare. So few people have seen or used one at the store!

Where is the Mint Mark on the 1973 Half Dollar?

The mint mark is on the obverse, above the mint date. Since the Half Dollar is a relatively large and heavy coin, the mint mark seems unproportionally small. But it uses the same hand-held punch that stamps all other mint marks, so it’s the same standard size as the rest.

How Much is a 1973 Liberty Coin Worth?

Since Liberty is so prominent on JFK Half Dollars, some people refer to it as a Liberty coin. And when these 50c pieces first came out, most people stashed them, so few (if any) made it into circulation. This means the coins were well-preserved and you can find them in high mint states. The top-selling 1973 Half Dollar Error Coin was auctioned in 2021 for $15,600.