What Makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Rare

What Makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Rare
Posted on May 22, 2024 by BOLD Precious Metals

In 2024, the value of half a dollar does not seem a lot. However, when you go back in time and attach the name of President John F. Kennedy to the same, the coins instantly become more valuable. But what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare and valuable? Just the name Kennedy, or its purity, quality, and mint markings, raise its worth.

Rare in design and historical significance, the 1964 Kennedy half dollar value has stood the test of time.

Did you know that an auction in 2019 witnessed a 1964 Kennedy dollar go to a worthy collector for a whopping $108,000? Such is the charisma of a coin as valuable as this!

Let us quickly introduce you to this half dollar before delving into in depth details of what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare.

     An Introduction to the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

The Kennedy half dollar is a 50-coin first issued by the United States Mint in 1964. As the name suggests, it was minted in honor of the famous American President John F. Kennedyafter his assassination in November of 1963.

An Introduction to the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

Serving as the President’s memorial, the US Government authorized these coins no later than a month after his assassination, with the minting starting in January 1964 onwards.

Weighing 30.6 mm, the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar has a diameter of 30.6 mm. The coin has a reeded edge and a thickness of 2.15 mm. Conventional Kennedy Half Dollars contained an outer layer made of 75% copper and 25% nickel clad to a fine copper core. In 1976, collectors’ versions of the coins contained 40% silver. The US Mint also produced 90% fine silver proofs of these half dollars between 1992 and 2018. Since 2019, you can get 99.9% fine silver proofs of the Kennedy Half Dollar.

In 2014, the US Mint produced a 99.99% pure gold version of the coin to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the coin, further increasing the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar value.

     The History of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

The History of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

If you are still wondering what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare, it is the coin’s complex history. A good amount of fascination for these coins comes from the history behind their mintage.

November 2, 1963, is a date every American remembers. This is the day when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This was a pivotal moment for the United States of America as a country and the world as it lost a popular leader.

The decision to create a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was made hours after the President’s assassination. The Director of the US Mint, Eva Adams, wanted the new coins to be a tribute to the leader her country had lost.

The President’s funeral was followed by discussions regarding the coin’s design and other details. The Kennedy family also took part in these discussions and gave their input. The coin options available for mintage were dollars, half-dollars, and quarters.

As of 1963, the US Mint has not issued the Peace dollar since 1935. The Treasury Department vaults still contained millions of these coins. The idea of replacing these coins was not feasible then, eliminating the need for another Peace dollar.

The quarter circulating in the country at the time features President George Washington. Jackie Kennedy did not want her husband to replace another American President from the face of a coin. This ended the prospects for a new quarter dollar.

Finally, the Government replaced the Ben Franklin half dollar with the new 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar.

     1964 Kennedy Half Dollar: Quick Facts

Before moving ahead and understanding what makes a 1964 Kennedy Dollar rare, let us have a look at some quick facts about the coin:

  • The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar’s design was ready in less than five weeks

  • The coin mintages in 1964 were 273,304,004 and 156,205,446 for the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, respectively

  • Mint sculptors Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro are credited for designing these half dollars

  • Its different mint marks include P, D, S, and W. The “W” mintmark is limited to the 2014 commemorative issue

  • The public sentiment associated with the President has maintained a high 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar value

     Why is the 1964 Kennedy Dollar Rare?

Why is the 1964 Kennedy Dollar Rare?

Now that we have looked into the basics of the much-valued coin let us get to brass tacks and understand what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare:

Tribute to the Late President

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy prompted the issue of these half dollars. The US Mint produced these coins as a tribute to the late President, honoring his service to the nation.

High Silver Content

While conventional half dollars contained the cupronickel alloy, the collectors’ edition coins have high silver content. If you can get your hands on the right coins, you can get a significant 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar value for coins containing 90% pure silver. In fact, the proofs minted since 2019 contain 99.9% fine silver.

Public Hoarding

Another activity that makes the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare is the mass hoarding of the coins. People across the country were immensely affected by President Kennedy’s assassination. They wanted to keep whatever memento they could get to themselves. As soon as the Mint issued the new half dollars, people immediately started hoarding them.

Cultural And Emotional Significance

Unlike most coins circulated across the US, what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare is the cultural and emotional significance it carries. The President’s assassination is still fresh in the minds of US citizens, upholding the value of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar even decades after its first issue.

     How to Identify Rare Varieties of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar?

How to Identify Rare Varieties of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar?

While traditional half dollars may not fetch you an impressive value, rare varieties of the same coins can make you a fortune. Here is everything you should keep an eye for while assessing a rare variety of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar:

Accented Hair

The “Accented Hair” variety is one of the most popular and rare varieties of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars. Here, the hair details in President Kennedy’s bust are more pronounced than the regular versions. Seek a coin grading service or coin dealer’s help to identify these coins.

Double Die Obverse (DDO)

These are the rare coins where the dies that struck them were engraved with double images. If you see double prints of Kennedy’s bust or the text “IN GOD WE TRUST,” know that you are harboring a rare gem!

Double Die Reverse (DDR)

Just like DDO, DDR coins are the ones where the double prints exist on the reverse side. If you see double eagles or lettering on your half dollar’s reverse, you may have a rare coin in your collection.

Special Mint Sets (SMS)

Along with conventional half dollars, the US Mint also released Special Mint Sets (SMS). These coins contain a better finish than the normal coins but are not as pure as proof coins. You can identify them through sharper details or a neat satin finish.

Mint Marks

You may also want to check the mint marks on your 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar to identify the rare coins. If you see an “S” mint mark, you are likely to harbor an exclusive coin as the half dollars minted in San Fransisco were largely proofs.

     Value Of 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

Before you start ransacking your collection or look for the right deals to collect coins, here is the value of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar depending on its grade and issue:


The Final Word

So, in a nutshell, the answer to the question- what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare is its excellent combination of historical significance, limited mintage, coin conditions, and more!

When you get yourself a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar, you tap into the emotions of millions of Americans. Carrying the weight of numerous conspiracy theories, controversies, and, above all, unmatched honor, these coins make great additions to an avid coin collector’s portfolio!

BOLD offers Kennedy Half Dollars from various years, especially minted after the year 2000. You can shop 90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars, with quantities under $10 FV arriving in velvet bags or flips, $10 FV or more (20+) coming in plastic tubes, and quantities of $100 FV or more arriving in bulk canvas bags.

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