Circulating coins are those minted in the United States Mint for everyday transactions. The only half-dollars currently used in circulation are beautifully designed Kennedy half-dollars, but the Federal Reserve rarely orders them for circulation.
Philadelphia and Denver mints produced 5,700,000 half-dollars in 2020 and 12,800,000 in 2021 as an attempt to reintroduce them into Americans’ everyday lives. Most pieces are inexpensive, despite their rarity and beauty, but most valuable half-dollar coins in circulation produced in a few particular years can be worth more. Let’s see.
Most Valuable Half-dollar Coins In Circulation
These coins appeared in 1964 after President Kennedy was assassinated, and three mints produced them, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. You can find three Kennedy half-dollar types based on their composition:
Type 1 – 1964 Kennedy half-dollars made of silver and copper in a 90%: 10% ratio
Type 2 – 1965 to 1970 Kennedy half-dollars made of silver clad
Type 3 – 1971 to Present Kennedy half-dollars made of copper-nickel clad
These coins with reeded edges are 0.08465 inches (2.15 mm) thick and have a diameter of 1.2 inches (30.61 mm). Their mass varies depending on composition:
- Silver coins weigh 0.40188 troy ounces (12.50 g)
- Silver-clad coins weigh 0.36973 troy ounces (11.50 g)
- Copper-nickel clad coins weigh 0.4 ounces (11.34 g)
Most valuable Kennedy half-dollar coins in circulation by PCGS
|Lots found||Year||Auction record|
|Type 1 (silver)|
|?||1964 SP 68||$108,000|
|2101||1964 D MS 68||$22,325|
|4089||1964 MS 68||$12,500|
|Type 2 (silver clad)|
|771||1969 D MS 67||$15,600|
|987||1966 MS 67+||$15,105|
|1514||1965 MS 67+||$9,000|
|Type 3 (copper-nickel clad)|
|536||1971 D MS 61||$13,000|
|63||2020 D MS 69||$9,995|
|116||1977 D MS 64||$9,200|
|Type 4 (bicentennial clad)|
|325||1976 D Genuine||$10,000|
|Type 4 (bicentennial silver)|
|2015||1976 S 69||$9,600|
|Type 1 (silver proof)|
|3568||1964 (accented hair) PR 68 DCAM||$19,975|
|Type 2 (silver clad proof)|
|2575||1968 S PR 70 DCAM||$21,600|
|Type 3 (copper-nickel clad proof)|
|1999||1971 S PR 69 DCAM||$12,000|
Gilroy Roberts designed this coin obverse with a President John F. Kennedy profile facing left with the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST below. The word LIBERTY is above his head, along the top rim, while the mintage date is placed on the bottom.
Sculptor Frank Gasparro created the reverse with the centrally positioned Presidential Seal. You can see an eagle with a shield holding 13 arrows in its right talon and an olive branch in the other.
As you can guess, arrows symbolize war, while the olive branch is a symbol of peace. The entire composition was surrounded by 50 stars, representing the American states.
The inscriptions of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and a HALF DOLLAR are along the coin rim, while the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is on the band above the eagle’s head.
One 1964 Kennedy half-dollar sold for $108,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2019 won an auction record for this coin type. This unique silver coin with a satiny surface is one of 273,304,004 minted in Philadelphia that year. Experts estimate that only five in SP 68 grade still exist worldwide.
The Denver mint produced 156,205,446 silver Kennedy halves in the first minting year. These coins are always worth at least the value of the contained silver, but you should set aside $9.38 to $17 for pieces in collectible condition.
The record price ever paid for one of these wondrously toned specimens in vibrant gold, green, and rose shades is $22,325. One collector bought this beautiful high-quality piece at Legend Rare Coin Auctions in 2016.
The Philadelphia mint struck 273,304,004 silver half dollars in 1964. You are unlikely to find any of these coins in circulation, but they are still valid payment currency.
Their value is higher than their denomination and is about $9.41 to $18, thanks to silver content. The most pricey piece is the one in the well-preserved condition that one collector bought for $12,500 on eBay in 2019.
The Denver mint produced 129,881,800 Kennedy half-dollars made of 60% copper and 40% silver in 1969. Their average price is standard so you can buy one of these pieces for approximately $4.52 to $28. However, the situation is somewhat weird, with about 50 specimens in MS 67 grade.
For instance, one coin in this grade was sold at Heritage Auctions in 2019 for an impressive $15,600. Only a month later, one collector paid only $6,600 for the piece in the same grade and with similar characteristics.
Finally, almost the same coin was sold for a moderate $1,200, showing how uncertain auctions can be. It is known that only one specimen is in a better MS 67+ condition, but it has not been offered for sale yet.
Most of the 108,984,932 silver half dollars produced in the Philadelphia mint are worth $4.51 to $28 on the current coin market. It is known that one collector paid $9,987.50 for a piece in MS 67 grade in 2015, as only one of six in this condition.
The only finer specimen in MS 67+ with extravagant toning was sold five years later, in 2020, on eBay for a respectable $15,105. The collector set aside so much money for this superb Gem with a bold strike and smooth surfaces.
Precisely 302,097,424 Kennedy half-dollars were produced in the Denver mint in 1971. It was the first year the US Mint started minting coins made of copper and nickel in a 75%: 25% ratio.
The lack of precious metal makes even those coins in the mint state inexpensive, and you can buy them for a modest $2.30. However, some pieces were struck on a 40% silver planchet left from the previous production.
Collectors consider such unique halves as errors and are often prepared to pay more to add one of them to their collections. Since they are relatively rare, you shouldn’t be surprised by the high price of $13,000 paid for one specimen in MS 61 grade on eBay in 2018.
The Denver mint produced 3,400,000 Kennedy half-dollars with clad composition in 2020. They are pretty common these days, and you should pay about $2.30 for a piece on the market.
On the other hand, a few quality pieces in MS 67 and MS 68 were sold at a price range of $20 to $115. The most expensive was a unique specimen in MS 69. One collector purchased it for $9,995 on eBay in 2021.
The most expensive Kennedy half-dollar produced in Denver in 1977 was the one sold for $9,200 at Bowers & Merena in 2005.
It was a huge price compared to the $2.30 you should pay for one standard coin of the total 31,449,106 produced this year. Only a few well-preserved lightly toned pieces with pleasing surfaces can reach $170 on the open market.
Survived Kennedy half-dollars of 287,565,248 struck in Denver in 1976 have a low price on the current coin market. It is a result of high coinage and its composition without precious metals.
Such clad pieces made of copper and nickel typically cost $2.30, but you can get a bit more for one certificated coin with the 1776 – 1976 date in MS 68 grade. However, there are always exceptions. For instance, one collector paid $10,000 for this Genuine bicentennial coin with unusual characteristics in 2021.
The San Francisco mint produced 11,000,000 bicentennial Kennedy half-dollars with the atypical 1776 – 1976 date. Unlike coins struck in Philadelphia and Denver, these pieces contain some silver percentage.
Their center is made of 21% silver and 79% copper, with an outer layer of 80% silver and 20% copper. Most coins from this mintage are worth a modest $5.70, while those in pristine condition can reach $220 on the open market.
The most expensive specimen in MS 69 grade won an auction record when one dedicated collector paid $9,600 for it at Heritage Auctions in 2022. Interestingly, one rare and better-rated bicentennial DCAM half-dollar proof was paid only $5,175 in 2008.
The Philadelphia mint produced 3,950,762 silver half-dollar proofs with accented hair in the first minting year. It is estimated that only four pieces in PR 68 DCAM grade still exist, including the one that won an auction record in 2017.
One collector paid $19,975 for it at Heritage Auctions, while only one with PR 69 DCAM rated is in a private collection and is unavailable on the market. Even though only 1% to 3% of 1964 proof coins minted this year have accented hair, most come with a regular price of $46.
The number of 3,041,506 Kennedy half-dollar proofs is pretty average, and those coins don’t stand out compared to other proofs minted in San Francisco in any way. Their regular price is approximately $9.75, while the auction record is $21,600.
One collector set aside such a high sum of money for a specimen in PR 70 DCAM grade at Heritage Auctions in 2017. A similar half-dollar was sold for less money in 2018, reaching $12,000 at an auction. Since these coins contain 40% silver, even pieces in the worst condition are worth something.
The San Francisco mint struck 3,220,733 Kennedy half-dollar proofs made of copper and nickel in 1971. They are not particularly expensive nowadays, and you can buy one for $5.70 on the market.
The most valuable coin is the one in PR 69 DCAM grade with a uniformly brilliant reverse and the obverse with a slight mint frost veil. It was sold for $12,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2019. It was a high price for one half-dollar from the first series without silver content.
14. 1965 MS 67+ Kennedy half-dollar
The Philadelphia mint produced 65,879,366 silver Kennedy halves without the mint mark in 1965. These coins typically cost $4.60 to $18, but those in MS 65 sometimes reach $75 on the open market. The most expensive is the one sold at Stack’s Bowers auction in 2021 for $9,000.
Other Valuable Half Dollars Produced for Circulation
Besides Kennedy half dollars, the US Mint produced other halves in its history, including:
- Flowing hair half dollars, produced from 1794 to 1795
- Draped bust half dollars with a small or heraldic eagle, produced from 1796 to 1807
- Capped bust half dollars with or without the motto, produced from 1807 to 1839
- Seated Liberty half dollars with or without the motto, produced from 1839 to 1891
- Barber half dollars, produced from 1892 to 1915
- Walking Liberty half dollars, produced from 1916 to 1947
- Franklin half dollars, produced from 1948 to 1963
Even though some of these coins are highly expensive, it is almost impossible to find them in circulation nowadays.
The most valuable circulated half dollars in the US Mint history
|Coin||Grade||Production year||Date of sale||Price|
|Capped bust||SP 64||1838 O||2014||$763,750|
|Liberty seated||VF 35||1853 O (no arrows)||2017||$517,000|
|Walking Liberty||MS 66+||1918 D||2021||$340,750|
|Capped bust||AU 50||1817/4||2009||$356,500|
|Capped bust||PR 66+||1838 O||2018||$336,000|
|Draped bust||MS 64||1801||2013||$329,000|
|Walking Liberty||MS 66||1919 D||2004||$270,250|
|Barber||MS 68||1892 O (micro O)||2022||$199,750|
|Flowing hair||MS 64||1795||2015||$199,750|
|Barber||MS 67||1904 S||2010||$138,000|
|Franklin||MS 65+ FBL||1958||2018||$129,250|
Kennedy half dollars were not regularly in circulation for almost half of a century, but you can occasionally find them in transactions. The Federal Reserve ordered these coins for circulation in 2021, the first time since 2001. Most of them are not valuable, but some rare pieces can cost a lot. Therefore, you should be careful with the coins you find in your pocket.