Written by Javier Mercado
The Kennedy Half Dollar 1964 is an important coin to collect. This edition is highly prized by US coin collectors for being its first year of issue. It is also a very common coin and available in excellent condition. So, if we want it to fetch a top price, we need it to be practically new (uncirculated or rarely handled).
- 1 Kennedy Half Dollar value – 2020 Updated Chart
- 3 How to correctly identify the price of our valuable Kennedy Half Dollars
- 4 What is a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar?
- 5 Types of 50 Cent Mints
- 6 How to differentiate between a proof version and a circulating one
- 7 Kennedy half dollar – Analyzing prices for smart buying and selling
- 8 The story behind the JFK half dollar
- 9 Most valuable 50 cent piece for coin collectors
- 10 The end of silver Kennedy half dollars
- 11 1964 Half-Dollar Rarities – Accented Hair
- 12 Variants of Accented Hair Half-Dollars
Kennedy Half Dollar value – 2020 Updated Chart
Approximate prices for coins in MS+ state.
However, we must consider that some details, which are difficult to appreciate for people outside the world of collecting, can cause significant variations in the price of our 1964 Kennedy half dollar.
The table’s figures can in no way be interpreted as fixed prices since in numismatics such certainty does not exist. They are approximate estimates of this historic coin of American numismatics.
How to correctly identify the price of our valuable Kennedy Half Dollars
If your silver Kennedy half dollar is not certified by a TPG, its price may range between the following values:
- In Good (G) condition: $6.50
- In Very Good (VG) status: $6.75
- In Fine (F) state: $7
- In Very Fine Condition (VF): $7.25
- In Extra Fine state (XF): $7.50
- In Almost Uncirculated (AU) state: $8.85
What is a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar?
The 50 cents coin with Kennedy’s bust is a modern issue, which began production in 1964 and continues to be minted today.
It’s a common American coin, with a total circulation of well over 400 million units, although not all of them were made for circulation. In total, these 1964 half dollar coins were minted at two different Mints, and one of them, the Philadelphia Mint, also minted PROOF pieces for the collector market.
Types of 50 Cent Mints
The mint can be distinguished by a small letter stamped under the olive branch on the back:
- If our silver half dollar doesn’t have any letters on it, it was minted in Philadelphia
- If it has the letter ‘D’ on it, it was minted in Denver
- The print run for this year 1964 is as follows:
- Philadelphia Mint, for circulation – 273,304,004 pieces
- Philadelphia MintProof, for collectors – 3.950.762 pieces
- Philadelphia Mint (SpecialMint Set) – 1 piece for the National Numismatic Collection
- Denver Mint, for circulation – 156,205,446 pieces
- Denver Mint (SpecialMint Set) – 1 piece for the National Numismatic Collection
How to differentiate between a proof version and a circulating one
In order to distinguish a PROOF issue from a circulating issue, we have to look at the surface of the coin. Let’s explain it with an example.
The coin on the left is a regular issue. It looks like most of the coins we use in our daily lives.
The coin on the right is a PROOF issue, which has been carefully minted. Designed for the collector market, we see the glossy background as if it were a mirror and its reliefs in a matt tone, providing a nice contrast.
Kennedy half dollar – Analyzing prices for smart buying and selling
1964 Kennedy half dollars, being modern editions, gain value when encapsulated by a Third Party Grading Service.
A TPG is a widely used company in the collector’s market because:
- It guarantees the authenticity of the currency.
- It offers an objective graduation of the state of conservation.
- It keeps a unique record for each verifiable piece in its database.
We can identify the rarity of our 1964 Kennedy half-dollar by looking at the tables of major TPGs and seeing how many pieces are encapsulated in a Mint State.
See this data from the NGC company:
The imbalance we see between the number of coins minted for circulation and proof, which is inversely proportional to their encapsulated quantity, is due to the fact that it is a common coin.
The collector’s market is mainly fed by the best quality coins, and since PROOF coins are easy to obtain, most collectors have chosen this quality to complete their collection.
Similarly, the other largest certifying company, PCGS, presents us with this number of certified half-dollars:
In the census of coins certified by the PCGS company, we do not find the ‘AccentedHair’ variant, which we will discuss later.
We can approximate the state of conservation of our currency in this link from the American Numismatic Association.
The story behind the JFK half dollar
On November 22, 1963, the great President of reform, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas. Americans immediately began to think of a way to honor his memory and set out to mint a coin from his bust.
The model chosen was that 50 cent coin, but there was an impediment – according to the Coinage Act passed a few months earlier, each type of coin had to be in circulation for a minimum of 25 years before it could be replaced. And at that time, the Franklin half-dollar had only been in use for 15 years, since 1948.
Congress quickly passed a new law so they could replace it. On December 30, 1964, only one month after the assassination, an amendment to the previous law was passed, and the minting of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was ordered.
Most valuable 50 cent piece for coin collectors
JFK was a President very much loved by the people. In fact, there was so much demand for the coin, that on the first day of its implementation, 24 March 1964, the first 70,000 coins intended for circulation were sold out. Even with a limit on withdrawals per person imposed – a maximum of 40 pieces.
The end of silver Kennedy half dollars
The shortage was so great that the following year it was decided to withdraw all .900 silver coins from circulation and to mint the circulating money in non-noble metals or with a lower grade .400 silver (Kennedy’s half-dollars from 1965 to 1971).
Only a small number of the 400 million half-dollars from 1964 actually went into circulation. Most of the coins were treasured by the people, so it is easier to find in good than worn out condition.
Ironically, the tribute to the president with the 0.50 dollar coins was what ended this model, since due to the scarcity of the means dollars, the 0.25 dollar coin began to be imposed in daily transactions. It reached a point where they were not even accepted by automatic machines. Today, the Kennedy half dollar is still being minted, but not for circulation. They can be purchased at banks in rolls of 20 units with a small surcharge on their face value.
1964 Half-Dollar Rarities – Accented Hair
As in all modern American numismatics, the 1964 half-dollar variants are highly prized by American collectors. Let’s focus our attention on the most famous one for this currency, the so-called ‘Accented Hair’.
For the first issue of this coin, which was sold out a few days after it was put into circulation, a stamp was used that was a little different from the definitive one. In it, we can see, among other differences, that JFK’s hairline differs slightly from what would be on the final design.
Kennedy half dollar errors?
There is a rumor that the design was changed because Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t like the shape of her husband’s hair, but it seems more accurate to think that it was modified to simplify the production process and save costs.
This coin is very recognizable, as it has some differences that do not leave room for confusion:
Variants of Accented Hair Half-Dollars
This is the key difference – the bust’s hairline is much more marked in the ‘accented hair’ variant.
In the 1964 half-dollar accented hair variant, the G in the signature on the back (next to the paw of the eagle’s right leg) ends in a straight line. However, on the coin without variant it has a termination with a small horizontal serif.
The letter ‘I’ of the word LIBERTY has an irregularity in the lower serif, which makes it concave in shape.
Its print run is estimated at between 1% and 3% of the total PROOF format emissions, so we can assume that there will be between 40,000 and 120,000 units minted in total.
It goes without saying that the Accented Hair variant is a coin much sought after by collectors, which in the version encapsulated by a TPG, is more expensive than the coin without the variant. In the numismatic market, its value can reach the following prices according to its state of conservation:
Apasionado de las inversiones, historia y coleccionismo de monedas en general. Licenciado en Antropología Cultural y graduado en Informática. Escribo en diversos medios digitales especializados en coleccionismo, subastas y antigüedades.
A fan of investments, numismatics, history and coin collecting in general. Graduate in Cultural Anthropology and computer science. I write in several digital media specialized in collecting, auctions and antiques reviews.