Half Dollars

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Half dollar coins are among the first coins ever produced by the U.S. Mint. The first half dollar coins were struck in December of 1794 with a mintage of 5,300. This early fifty-cent piece, known as the Flowing Hair half dollar was also used on other early U.S. coins. Although half dollar coins were widely used well into the 20th century, they have since become popular with collectors, particularly half dollar coins produced before 1965 as those coins contained a composition of 90% silver. 

These coins, valued at fifty cents and often referred to simply as "halves," have been produced by the United States Mint since 1794. Over the centuries, Half Dollar coins have featured various designs, each reflecting the times and figures deemed significant in American history.

We feature a wide selection of half dollar coins from various years and in varying conditions. These coins are popular for their collectability and value. 

The series of Half Dollar coins includes several notable designs:

  1. Flowing Hair Half Dollar (1794-1795): The first half dollar coin issued by the United States Mint, featuring a representation of Liberty with flowing hair on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.

  2. Draped Bust Half Dollar (1796-1807): Introduced a more refined portrait of Liberty, alongside the small eagle and later the heraldic eagle on the reverse.

  3. Capped Bust Half Dollar (1807-1839): Showcased Liberty wearing a cap and introduced edge lettering and significant design changes over its course.

  4. Seated Liberty Half Dollar (1839-1891): Featured Liberty seated on a rock, a design that lasted over 50 years with minor modifications.

  5. Barber Half Dollar (1892-1915): Named after its designer, Charles E. Barber, this coin featured a classical head of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.

  6. Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916-1947): Considered by many as one of the most beautiful coin designs in American history, it features an iconic representation of Liberty striding forward.

  7. Franklin Half Dollar (1948-1963): Honored Benjamin Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse, marking a departure from the traditional portrayal of Liberty.

  8. Kennedy Half Dollar (1964-present): Introduced following President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, this coin features his profile on the obverse and the Presidential Coat of Arms on the reverse. Initially minted in 90% silver, the composition was changed in subsequent years due to the rising cost of silver and coin hoarding.

Flowing Hair Half Dollar Coin

The Flowing Hair Half Dollar was minted between 1794 to 1795. Designed by Robert Scot, this coin features an obverse side that shows a profile view with the head of Liberty with her telltale flowing hair. She is flanked by 15 stars that represent the number of states in the union at the time. The reverse side features an American Bald Eagle encircled by a wreath and the words, United States of America.

Draped Bust Half Dollar Coin

Produced between 1796 to 1807, the Draped Bust Half Dollar was designed by engraver Robert Scot. Some historians believe that Scot based his design of Liberty on Anne Willing Bingham, a Philadelphia socialite who was known to correspond with Thomas Jefferson. The obverse view shows Liberty in profile with flowing locks and a gown draped low over her chest. There are three different reverse sides. One features the naturalistic eagle that appeared on the earlier half dollar. Because of the low mintage, these are more highly prized than later years that feature the two differing heraldic eagles.

Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin

Capped Bust Half Dollar coins were minted between 1807 to 1839. Also known as the “Turban Head” Half Dollar, this coin depicts a bust of Lady Liberty in profile view on its obverse side. John Reich designed the engraving, which was then modified by mint engraver William Kneass. The reverse side of the coin depicts an heraldic American bald eagle with outspread wings. 

Seated Liberty Half Dollar Coin

Seated Liberty Half Dollar Coins were produced by the U.S. Mint between 1839 to 1891. The obverse side of the coins show Lady Liberty seated and grasping a staff topped by a liberty cap. The reverse side shows an heraldic eagle clutching an olive branch and quiver of arrows. No motto appears on these coins until 1866 when the words ‘In God We Trust’ appeared above the head of the eagle. Mint engraver Christian Gobrecht created the image of Liberty based on a portrait by artist Thomas Sully.

Barber Half Dollar Coin

Barber Half Dollar Coins were minted between 1892 to 1915. Dissatisfaction with the Seated Liberty coins, which reflected English style, persuaded Charles E. Barber, chief mint engraver to create a bold design showing the head of Liberty. The motto ‘In God We Trust’ appears above her head while the year of issue appears beneath her. The reverse side shows an heraldic American bald eagle.

Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coin

The U.S. Mint produced Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coins between 1916 to 1947. Prized by collectors for its beautiful design, these coins feature an obverse side showing a full-length view of Lady Liberty with long flowing hair and dress as she walks toward a rising sun. The design was completed by sculptor and engraver Adolphe A. Weinman.The reverse side shows an American bald eagle with spread wings atop a mountain perch.

Franklin Half Dollar

Franklin Half Dollar coins were minted between 1948 to 1963. The obverse side of these coins show a profile view of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. Mint engraver John R. Sinnock created the design but based it on the celebrated 18th century sculpture of Franklin by Jean Antoine-Houdon. Sinnock also designed most of the coin’s reverse side, which depicts the American Liberty Bell, but he died before it was completed. Engraver Gilroy Roberts completed the bell, which shows its famous crack. These coins were replaced after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy when the mint chose to replace Franklin with a design to honor the fallen president.

Kennedy Half Dollar Coin

Created to pay homage to assassinated President John F. Kennedy, the Kennedy Half Dollar coin was first produced in 1964. The obverse side of the coin shows a profile view of the president designed by chief mint engraver Gilroy Roberts. Only the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar coin contains 90% silver, which makes it more highly prized than subsequent Kennedy coins. Kennedy coins minted between 1965 and 1970 contain 40% silver. Unless produced in special collectors sets, Kennedy Half Dollars minted after 1971 are made from copper and nickel.

Explore our selection of U.S. Half Dollar Coins. Click into each offering to learn about coin specifics such as mintage year and condition.


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Half Dollar Coins FAQ

The most collected half daollars are: Walking Liberty Half Dollars, Franklin Half Dollars and Kennedy Half Dollars.

Some of the most collected half dollars include:

Flowing Hair (1794–1795): This was one of the earliest designs of the half dollar.

Draped Bust (1796–1807): This design had variations including the Small Eagle (1796–1797) and the Heraldic Eagle (1801–1807).

Capped Bust (1807–1839): This design also had variations, including the Large Size with a motto (1807–1836) and the Small Size without a motto (1836–1839).

Seated Liberty (1839–1891): This design had variations including the No Motto (1839–1866) and With Motto (1866–1891) versions.

Barber (1892–1915): Named after its designer, Charles E. Barber.

Walking Liberty (1916–1947): A popular design that was later used for the American Silver Eagle bullion coin.

Franklin (1948–1963): Features Benjamin Franklin on the obverse.

Kennedy (1964–present): Introduced in memory of President John F. Kennedy, with the 1964 version being the last 90% silver half dollar for circulation.

In general, half dollars from 1964 and prior are 90% silver and half dollars from 1965-1969 are 40% silver.

Half dollars that contain silver include:

Flowing Hair (1794–1795): 90% silver.

Draped Bust (1796–1807): 90% silver.

Capped Bust (1807–1839): 90% silver.

Seated Liberty (1839–1891): 90% silver.

Barber (1892–1915): 90% silver.

Walking Liberty (1916–1947): 90% silver.

Franklin (1948–1963): 90% silver.

Kennedy (1964): 90% silver.

Kennedy (1965–1970): 40% silver.

Kennedy Bicentennial (1976): Only the collector's sets produced during this time contained 40% silver.

A pre-1965 U.S. half dollar contains 90% silver. The total weight of a half dollar is 12.5 grams. To determine the silver content in troy ounces (ozt):

First, calculate the weight of the silver in grams:

0.90 (90% of the coin's weight) × 12.5 grams = 11.25 grams of silver.

Now, convert grams to troy ounces. There are approximately 31.1035 grams in a troy ounce:

11.25 grams ÷ 31.1035 grams/ozt = 0.3617 ozt of silver.

The first half dollar in the United States was minted in 1794.

Half Dollar Coins are a denomination of United States currency valued at fifty cents. They have been produced by the U.S. Mint since 1794 and have featured various designs throughout American history, representing significant figures and symbols of the nation.

The most popular designs of Half Dollar Coins include the Walking Liberty (1916-1947), the Franklin Half Dollar (1948-1963), and the Kennedy Half Dollar (1964-present). Each design reflects significant historical periods and figures in American history.

Yes, Half Dollar Coins are still being made, primarily for collectors. The Kennedy Half Dollar, introduced in 1964, continues to be minted today, although its circulation in everyday transactions has significantly decreased.

The value of silver Half Dollar Coins depends on their year, condition, and silver content. Coins minted before 1965, which are 90% silver, can be worth significantly more than their face value due to the precious metal content.

Some of the rarest Half Dollar Coins include the 1796 and 1797 Draped Bust, the 1836 Reeded Edge Capped Bust, and certain early proof and error coins. The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar accented hair variety is also highly sought after by collectors.

The Kennedy Half Dollar holds special significance as it was introduced to honor President John F. Kennedy shortly after his assassination in 1963. It symbolizes the nation's mourning and respect for the fallen president and has remained a beloved design among Americans and collectors worldwide.