Kennedy Half Dollar Specifications

Technical Specifications, Details, and General Information

Background and History

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Mint Director Eva Adams directed Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts to begin sculpting a portrait of the late president. Mint officials could not decide at that time which denomination would receive the president's portrait. After careful consideration, the half dollar was selected to receive the new portrait of the late president. Congressional authorization was necessary to replace the Franklin half dollar because it was only minted for sixteen years, well short of the mandatory twenty-five-year requirement before an existing coin's design can be replaced.

The mint began coining the new Kennedy half dollar in January of 1964. Mint engravers delivered Proof dies on January 2, 1964, and regular production of circulating coin began on January 30th at the Denver Mint and about a week later at the Philadelphia Mint.

Souvenir collectors wishing to remember the slain president bought millions of these coins at their local banks. Speculators and investors looking to make a quick buck compounded the already high demand from souvenir hunters. Due to the rising price of silver, the composition of the Kennedy half dollar was changed from 90% silver to 40% silver in 1965. In 1971 all silver was eliminated from the half dollar and replaced with a copper-nickel alloy.

The United States Mint to thwart the speculators and investors produced coins dated 1964 in 1965 and 1966. This unorthodox practice was allowed by an act of Congress passed on September 3, 1964, at the request of the Treasury Department.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence that led to the Revolutionary War, Congress authorized the production of three circulating commemorative coins: the Washington quarter, the Kennedy half dollar, and the Eisenhower dollar. In anticipation of extreme demand by the public, the mint did not strike any quarters, half dollars, or dollar coins dated 1975. Kennedy half dollars minted in 1975 and 1976 both bear the dual date 1776 - 1976. Special collector edition coins were struck on 40% silver clad planchets in both business strike and proof finishes.

Coin Values and Prices

Kennedy half dollars are popular amongst coin collectors. You will find that Kennedy half dollar values and prices (1964-date) are very affordable. Additionally, detailed mintage data for the Kennedy half dollar indicate that all issues are readily available.                                                                                                                  

Detailed Specifications

Issuing Government United States of America
$0.50 (half dollar)
Coinage Type Kennedy Half Dollar or Kennedy Fifty Cent Piece
Mintage Dates 1964 to Date
Production Facilities Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco
Mint Mark Location 1964: To the left of the olive branch on the reverse.
1965-1967: Mint marks were not used.
1968-Date: Above the date on the obverse.
Composition 1964: 90% Silver
1965-1970: 40% Silver; Outer layer: 80% silver 20% copper, core of 21.5% silver, 78.5% copper
1971-Date: Clad; Outside: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel; Core: 100% Copper
1976 Silver Collector Coins: Silver Clad 40%: 80% silver 20% copper, core of 21.5% silver, 78.5% copper
1992-Date Silver Proof: 90% Silver
Weight 1964: 12.50 grams
1965-1970: 11.50 g
1971-Date: 11.34 g
1976 Silver Collector Coins: 11.50 g
1992-Date Silver Proof: 12.50 g
Weight Tolerance (+/-) 1964: 0.259 grams
1965-1970: 0.400 g
1971-Date: 0.454 g
1976 Silver Collector Coins: 0.400 g
1992-Date Silver Proof: 0.400 g
Actual Gold Weight () 0.0000 Troy Ounces (Does not contain any gold)
Actual Silver Weight (ASW) 1964: 0.3617 Troy Ounces
1965-1970: 0.1479 Troy Ounces
1971-Date: 0.0000 Troy Ounces
1976 Silver Collector Coins: 0.1479 Troy Ounces
1992-Date Silver Proof: 0.3617 Troy Ounces
Actual Platinum Weight () 0.0000 Troy Ounces (Does not contain any platinum)
Specific Gravity 1964: 10.34
1965-1970: 9.53
1971-Date: 8.92
1976 Silver Collector Coins: 9.53
1992-Date Silver Proof: 10.34
Diameter 30.60 mm
Thickness 2.15 mm
Edge Type Reeded
Obverse Description Portrait of Kennedy facing left, with LIBERTY above and to the sides and the date below. IN GOD WE TRUST is in a straight line above the date.
Obverse Designer Gilroy Roberts
Reverse Description Regular Issue: A heraldic eagle with a shield on its breast, holding an olive branch and 13 arrows. Rays, clouds, stars and E PLURIBUS UNUM on a ribbon is above the eagle. A ring of 50 stars surrounds. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above and HALF DOLLAR is below.
Bicentennial: Front view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. UNITED STATES OFAMERICA on top, HALF DOLLAR on the bottom, 200 YEARS OF FREEDOM on the left, E PLURIBUS UNUM on the right, INDEPENDENCE HALL below the building and then thirteen stars.
Reverse Designer Regular Issue: Frank Gasparro
Bicentennial: Seth G. Huntington
(Krause-Mishler Catalog No.) 1964: 202
1965-1970: 202a
1971-Date: 202b
1976 Clad: 205
1976 Silver Collector Coins: 205a
1992-Date Silver Proof: B202b
Notes The 2014 gold Kennedy half dollar is considered a bullion coin and not part of this series.

Production Years, Mints, and Types

The Kennedy Half Dollar was minted as indicated in the following table. The table lists the years, strike type, mint facility where made, the mint mark used on the coin and a description of any type differences in coins minted for that year.

Year Mint Mint Mark Type
1964 Philadelphia
1964 Proof Philadelphia
1964 SMS Philadelphia SMS Very Rare, unknown number of sets produced.
1964 SMS Philadelphia Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1964 Denver D
1964 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
40% Silver Clad Composition
1965 Philadelphia
1965 SMS Philadelphia (Issued only in Special Mint Sets)
1966 Philadelphia
1966 SMS Philadelphia (Issued only in Special Mint Sets)
1967 Philadelphia
1967 SMS Philadelphia (Issued only in Special Mint Sets)
1968 Denver D
1968 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1968 Proof San Francisco S
1969 Denver D
1969 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1969 Proof San Francisco S
1970 Denver D
1970 Proof San Francisco S
Copper-Nickel Clad Composition
1971 Philadelphia
1971 SMS Philadelphia Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1971 Denver D
1971 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1971 Proof San Francisco S
1972 Philadelphia
1972 SMS Philadelphia Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1972 Denver D
1972 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1972 Proof San Francisco S
Year Mint Mint Mark Type
1973 Philadelphia
1973 Denver D
1973 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1973 Proof San Francisco S
1974 Philadelphia
1974 Denver D
1974 Proof San Francisco S
Bicentennial Design
1976 Philadelphia
1976 Denver D
1976 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1976 Proof San Francisco S
1976 Proof San Francisco No mint mark
1976 San Francisco S 40% Silver Clad
1976 Proof San Francisco S 40% Silver Clad
Regular Design Resumed
1977 Philadelphia
1977 Denver D
1977 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1977 Proof San Francisco S
1978 Philadelphia
1978 Denver D
1978 SMS Denver D Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1978 Proof San Francisco S
1979 Philadelphia
1979 Denver D
1979 Proof San Francisco S Type 1; Filled S
(Mint mark looks like a blob)
1979 Proof San Francisco S Type 2; Clear S
(Mint mark is clear and well formed)
Year Mint Mint Mark Type
1980 Philadelphia P
1980 Denver D
1980 Proof San Francisco S
1981 Philadelphia P
1981 Denver D
1981 Proof San Francisco S Type 1; Clear S
(Mint mark is clear but pointed)
1981 Proof San Francisco S Type 2; Flat S
(Mint mark is flat on top)
1982 Philadelphia P
1982 Denver D
1982 Proof San Francisco S
1983 Philadelphia P
1983 Denver D
1983 Proof San Francisco S
1984 Philadelphia P
1984 Denver D
1984 Proof San Francisco S
1985 Philadelphia P
1985 Denver D
1985 Proof San Francisco S
1986 Philadelphia P
1986 Denver D
1986 Proof San Francisco S
1987 Philadelphia P
1987 Denver D
1987 Proof San Francisco S
1988 Philadelphia P
1988 Denver D
1988 Proof San Francisco S
1989 Philadelphia P
1989 Denver D
1989 Proof San Francisco S
Year Mint Mint Mark Type
1990 Philadelphia P
1990 Denver D
1990 Proof San Francisco S
1991 Philadelphia P
1991 Denver D
1991 Proof San Francisco S
1992 Philadelphia P
1992 Denver D
1992 Proof San Francisco S
1992 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1993 Philadelphia P
1993 Denver D
1993 Proof San Francisco S
1993 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1994 Philadelphia P
1994 Denver D
1994 Proof San Francisco S
1994 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1995 Philadelphia P
1995 Denver D
1995 Proof San Francisco S
1995 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1996 Philadelphia P
1996 Denver D
1996 Proof San Francisco S
1996 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1997 Philadelphia P
1997 Denver D
1997 Proof San Francisco S
1997 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1998 Philadelphia P
1998 Denver D
1998 Proof San Francisco S
1998 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
1998 Proof San Francisco S Matt Proof Finish
(90% Silver, SMS Issued only in Kennedy Commem. Set)
1999 Philadelphia P
1999 Denver D
1999 Proof San Francisco S
1999 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
Year Mint Mint Mark Type
2000 Philadelphia P
2000 Denver D
2000 Proof San Francisco S
2000 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2001 Philadelphia P
2001 Denver D
2001 Proof San Francisco S
2001 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2002 Philadelphia P
2002 Denver D
2002 Proof San Francisco S
2002 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2003 Philadelphia P
2003 Denver D
2003 Proof San Francisco S
2003 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2004 Philadelphia P
2004 Denver D
2004 Proof San Francisco S
2004 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2005 Philadelphia P
2005 SMS Philadelphia P Satin Finish
2005 Denver D
2005 SMS Denver D Satin Finish
2005 Proof San Francisco S
2005 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2006 Philadelphia P
2006 SMS Philadelphia P Satin Finish
2006 Denver D
2006 SMS Denver D Satin Finish
2006 Proof San Francisco S
2006 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2007 Philadelphia P
2007 SMS Philadelphia P Satin Finish
2007 Denver D
2007 SMS Denver D Satin Finish
2007 Proof San Francisco S
2007 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2008 Philadelphia P
2008 SMS Philadelphia P Satin Finish
2008 Denver D
2008 SMS Denver D Satin Finish
2008 Proof San Francisco S
2008 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2009 Philadelphia P
2009 SMS Philadelphia P Satin Finish
2009 Denver D
2009 SMS Denver D Satin Finish
2009 Proof San Francisco S
2009 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
Year Mint Mint Mark Type
2010 Philadelphia P
2010 SMS Philadelphia P Satin Finish
2010 Denver D
2010 SMS Denver D Satin Finish
2010 Proof San Francisco S
2010 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2011 Philadelphia P
2011 Denver D
2011 Proof San Francisco S
2011 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2012 Philadelphia P
2012 Denver D
2012 Proof San Francisco S
2012 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2013 Philadelphia P
2013 Denver D
2013 Proof San Francisco S
2013 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2014 Philadelphia P
2014 Denver D
2014 Proof San Francisco S
2014 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver
2014 SMS Philadelphia P High Relief Obverse
2014 SMS Denver D High Relief Obverse
2014 Proof Philadelphia P Silver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2014 SMS Denver D Silver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2014 Enhanced Uncirculated San Francisco S Silver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2014 Reverse Proof West Point W Silver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2015 Philadelphia P
2015 Denver D
2015 Proof San Francisco S
2015 Proof San Francisco S 90% Silver

Errors and Varieties

The following are popular errors and varieties that Kennedy Half Dollar collectors look for. These coins usually carry a premium and are valued above a common coin.

Year Mint Mint Mark Error/Variety Notes/Description
1964
Silver 90%
Philadelphia Doubled Die Obverse Look for doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST
1964
Silver 90% Proof
Philadelphia Accented Hair Three incuse lines are found above Kennedy's ear.
1964
Silver 90% Proof
Philadelphia Doubled Die Obverse Look for doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST
1964
Silver 90% Proof
Philadelphia Doubled Die Reverse Look for doubling in UNITED STATES
1966
Clad SMS
Philadelphia No "FG" Initials No designer's initials below the eagle's right wing.
1968
Clad Proof
San Francisco S Inverted mint mark The larger loop on the "S" is on the top and not the bottom
1968
Silver Clad 40% Proof
San Francisco S Inverted Mint Mark The larger loop on the "S" is on the top and not the bottom
1971 Denver D Struck on 40% silver clad planchet Weight should be 11.50 g.
1972 Denver D No "FG" Initials No designer's initials below the eagle's right wing.
1974 Denver D Doubled Die Obv. Look for doubling in UNITED STATES
1977 Denver D Struck on 40% silver clad planchet Weight should be 11.50 g.
1982 Philadelphia P No "FG" Initials No designer's initials below the eagle's right wing.

Suggested Books on Kennedy Half Dollar

  • Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins; Walter Breen; Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (May 1, 1988); ISBN-13: 978-0385142076
  • Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins: Volume II; Fivaz, Bill and J.T. Stanton; Publisher: Whitman Publishing, Atlanta (2006); ISBN-13: 978-0794820534
  • The Kennedy Half Dollar Book: An Attribution and Pricing Guide; Wiles, James, Ph.D; Stanton Printing & Publishing; Savannah, GA; 1998
  • A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars; Tomaska, Rick; Whitman Publishing; 1 edition (December 15, 2010); ISBN-13: 978-0794832438