Kennedy Half Dollars (1964)

Kennedy Half Dollars (1964)

1964 Kennedy Half Dollars were struck by the United States Mint from 90% silver and contained a total of 0.3617 ounces of the precious metal. The coins were authorized by Congress a little over a month after President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

silver kennedy half dollars valuesPrior to the release of these 90% silver coins, the United States Mint had been striking the Franklin Half Dollars since 1948. While coin designs could be changed at the discretion of the Treasury Department every twenty-five years without Congressional approval, the half dollar would not remain the same that long.Each 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar features a diameter of 30.6 mm with a total weight of 12.5 grams (melt value for these Kennedy Half Dollars can be found by using the calculator in the column on the right). On the obverse of the strike, a depiction of the Presidential Seal is shown complete with an eagle and shield.

Historical 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Silver Coin Melt Values

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 would bring a flood of support backing the slain President’s likeness on an American coin. Congress approved such a change in late December of that same year, less than two months after Kennedy’s death.

Owing to the urgency and emotional nature of the events, Chief Engraver of the United States Mint Gilroy Roberts and his assistant, Frank Gasparro, started on new designs for the coin within days following the assassination. They based their work on the Kennedy Medal they had previously completed.

The obverse would show a left-facing portrait of Kennedy as depicted by Roberts. Obverse inscriptions would include “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and a year. The reverse would show a version of the Presidential Seal as completed by Gasparro. Reverse inscriptions include “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “HALF DOLLAR.”

With intense public interest in the strikes, the Kennedy Half Dollars were released for circulation beginning on March 24, 1964. On that day, lines a block long formed by the Treasury Department in Washington D.C. as they started to sell the coins. Other locations also had the new Kennedy Half Dollars for sale and despite rationing, sell-outs occurred.

Initial plans called for the United States Mint to produce 94 million of the half dollars in 1964. But public interest in the coins owing to their commemorative nature and increasing silver prices led the Mint to strike over 160 million by late November. Seeing no end to the demand, the Treasury Department requested and received permission to produce 1964-dated Kennedy Half Dollars into 1965, which it did. In total, over 430 million were struck which was more than the previous sixteen years of Franklin Half Dollars.

In 1965, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1965 which changed the precious metal content of the half dollars from 90% down to 40%. That standard would remain until 1971 when a cupro-nickel blend replaced it.

Many 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars were melted down to obtain the precious metal. But with such a high mintage and the fact that the public hoarded them due of their subject, many remain available today for collectors. Those that are of such a poor grade as to not warrant collector interest still retain solid silver coin melt values.