Kennedy Half Dollar Specifications

Technical Specifications, Details, and General Information

Kennedy Half Dollar Example Obverse and Reverse
Kennedy Half Dollar Example Obverse and Reverse. Images Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

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. It was not decided at that time which denomination the president's portrait would be placed on. After careful consideration, the half dollar was selected to receive the new portrait of the late president.

Congressional authorization was necessary in order 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. Proof dies were delivered 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. This demand was additionally compounded by speculators and investors willing to make a quick buck. Due to the rising price of silver, the composition of the Kennedy half dollar was changed from 90% silver to 40% silver in 1965 and in 1971 all silver was eliminated with a copper-nickel alloy. In an effort to thwart the speculators and investors, coins dated 1964 were also made in 1965 in 1966.

This 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:

Detailed Specifications

Issuing GovernmentUnited 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
Diameter30.60 mm 
Thickness 2.15 mm 
Edge TypeReeded
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.

YearMintMint MarkType
1964Philadelphia  
1964 ProofPhiladelphia  
1964 SMSPhiladelphia SMS Very Rare, unknown number of sets produced.
1964 SMSPhiladelphia Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1964DenverD 
1964 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
40% Silver Clad Composition
1965Philadelphia  
1965 SMSPhiladelphia (Issued only in Special Mint Sets)
1966Philadelphia  
1966 SMSPhiladelphia (Issued only in Special Mint Sets)
1967Philadelphia  
1967 SMSPhiladelphia (Issued only in Special Mint Sets)
1968DenverD 
1968 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1968 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1969DenverD 
1969 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1969 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1970DenverD 
1970 ProofSan FranciscoS 
Copper-Nickel Clad Composition
1971Philadelphia  
1971 SMSPhiladelphia Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1971DenverD 
1971 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1971 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1972Philadelphia  
1972 SMSPhiladelphia Unique to The National Numismatic Collection
1972DenverD 
1972 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1972 ProofSan FranciscoS 
YearMintMint MarkType
1973Philadelphia  
1973DenverD 
1973 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1973 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1974Philadelphia  
1974DenverD 
1974 ProofSan FranciscoS 
Bicentennial Design
1976Philadelphia  
1976DenverD 
1976 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1976 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1976 ProofSan Francisco No mint mark
1976San FranciscoS40% Silver Clad
1976 ProofSan FranciscoS40% Silver Clad
Regular Design Resumed
1977Philadelphia  
1977DenverD 
1977 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1977 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1978Philadelphia  
1978DenverD 
1978 SMSDenverDUnique to The National Numismatic Collection
1978 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1979Philadelphia  
1979DenverD 
1979 ProofSan FranciscoSType 1; Filled S
(Mint mark looks like a blob)
1979 ProofSan FranciscoSType 2; Clear S
(Mint mark is clear and well formed)
YearMintMint MarkType
1980PhiladelphiaP 
1980DenverD 
1980 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1981PhiladelphiaP 
1981DenverD 
1981 ProofSan FranciscoSType 1; Clear S
(Mint mark is clear but pointed)
1981 ProofSan FranciscoSType 2; Flat S
(Mint mark is flat on top)
1982PhiladelphiaP 
1982DenverD 
1982 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1983PhiladelphiaP 
1983DenverD 
1983 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1984PhiladelphiaP 
1984DenverD 
1984 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1985PhiladelphiaP 
1985DenverD 
1985 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1986PhiladelphiaP 
1986DenverD 
1986 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1987PhiladelphiaP 
1987DenverD 
1987 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1988PhiladelphiaP 
1988DenverD 
1988 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1989PhiladelphiaP 
1989DenverD 
1989 ProofSan FranciscoS 
YearMintMint MarkType
1990PhiladelphiaP 
1990DenverD 
1990 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1991PhiladelphiaP 
1991DenverD 
1991 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1992PhiladelphiaP 
1992DenverD 
1992 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1992 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1993PhiladelphiaP 
1993DenverD 
1993 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1993 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1994PhiladelphiaP 
1994DenverD 
1994 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1994 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1995PhiladelphiaP 
1995DenverD 
1995 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1995 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1996PhiladelphiaP 
1996DenverD 
1996 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1996 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1997PhiladelphiaP 
1997DenverD 
1997 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1997 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1998PhiladelphiaP 
1998DenverD 
1998 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1998 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
1998 ProofSan FranciscoSMatt Proof Finish
(90% Silver, SMS Issued only in Kennedy Commem. Set)
1999PhiladelphiaP 
1999DenverD 
1999 ProofSan FranciscoS 
1999 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
YearMintMint MarkType
2000PhiladelphiaP 
2000DenverD 
2000 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2000 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2001PhiladelphiaP 
2001DenverD 
2001 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2001 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2002PhiladelphiaP 
2002DenverD 
2002 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2002 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2003PhiladelphiaP 
2003DenverD 
2003 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2003 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2004PhiladelphiaP 
2004DenverD 
2004 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2004 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2005PhiladelphiaP 
2005 SMSPhiladelphiaPSatin Finish
2005DenverD 
2005 SMSDenverDSatin Finish
2005 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2005 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2006PhiladelphiaP 
2006 SMSPhiladelphiaPSatin Finish
2006DenverD 
2006 SMSDenverDSatin Finish
2006 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2006 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2007PhiladelphiaP 
2007 SMSPhiladelphiaPSatin Finish
2007DenverD 
2007 SMSDenverDSatin Finish
2007 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2007 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2008PhiladelphiaP 
2008 SMSPhiladelphiaPSatin Finish
2008DenverD 
2008 SMSDenverDSatin Finish
2008 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2008 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2009PhiladelphiaP 
2009 SMSPhiladelphiaPSatin Finish
2009DenverD 
2009 SMSDenverDSatin Finish
2009 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2009 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
YearMintMint MarkType
2010PhiladelphiaP 
2010 SMSPhiladelphiaPSatin Finish
2010DenverD 
2010 SMSDenverDSatin Finish
2010 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2010 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2011PhiladelphiaP 
2011DenverD 
2011 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2011 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2012PhiladelphiaP 
2012DenverD 
2012 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2012 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2013PhiladelphiaP 
2013DenverD 
2013 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2013 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2014PhiladelphiaP 
2014DenverD 
2014 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2014 ProofSan FranciscoS90% Silver
2014 SMSPhiladelphiaPHigh Relief Obverse
2014 SMSDenverDHigh Relief Obverse
2014 ProofPhiladelphiaPSilver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2014 SMSDenverDSilver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2014 Enhanced UncirculatedSan FranciscoSSilver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2014 Reverse ProofWest PointWSilver 90%; High Relief Obverse
2015PhiladelphiaP 
2015DenverD 
2015 ProofSan FranciscoS 
2015 ProofSan FranciscoS90% 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.

YearMintMint MarkError/VarietyNotes/Description
1964
Silver 90%
Philadelphia Doubled Die ObverseLook for doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST
1964
Silver 90% Proof
Philadelphia Accented HairThree incuse lines are found above Kennedy's ear.
1964
Silver 90% Proof
Philadelphia Doubled Die ObverseLook for doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST
1964
Silver 90% Proof
Philadelphia Doubled Die ReverseLook for doubling in UNITED STATES
1966
Clad SMS
Philadelphia No "FG" InitialsNo designer's initials below the eagle's right wing.
1968
Clad Proof
San FranciscoSInverted mint markThe larger loop on the "S" is on the top and not the bottom
1968
Silver Clad 40% Proof
San FranciscoSInverted Mint MarkThe larger loop on the "S" is on the top and not the bottom
1971DenverDStruck on 40% silver clad planchetWeight should be 11.50 g.
1972DenverDNo "FG" InitialsNo designer's initials below the eagle's right wing.
1974DenverDDoubled Die Obv.Look for doubling in UNITED STATES
1977DenverDStruck on 40% silver clad planchetWeight should be 11.50 g.
1982PhiladelphiaPNo "FG" InitialsNo 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