The first Half Dollar minted in the United States was the 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar. This coin had the denomination on the edge. Some of the more famous Half Dollars were the Draped Bust Half Dollars minted between 1796 and 1797, and the 1836 Reeded Edge Half Dollar, which was a little smaller in size and included 50 CENTS on the reverse. A major rarity was produced a short time later, the 1838-O Half Dollar, with a very low mintage of only 20 pieces.
The Liberty Seated Half Dollar was minted for circulation starting in 1839 and completed its run in 1891. In this series, a significant rarity is the 1853-O, ‘without arrows’. Apparently, this coin does not exist above the ‘Very Fine” grade.
Barber Half Dollars replaced the Liberty Seated Half Dollars in 1892 and were minted through 1915. This series has gained favor in recent years, as it is somewhat affordable to complete, though there are some expensive Mint State issues, such as the 1892-O ‘Micro O’, which is considered the rarest in the series.
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was produced from 1916 through 1947. This was and is a very popular design. Completion of a full set of Walking Liberty Half Dollars is a mighty accomplishment, as there are several expensive dates. The 1919 and the 1921 S are very coins, particularly in mint State. Many people opt to complete a ‘Short Set’, which includes the 1941 through 1947 dates.
1948 saw the beginning of the Franklin Half Dollar, which was minted through 1963. This is considered an affordable series to complete a collection with, though some of the higher grade proofs command a significant price, such as the 1950 Franklin Half Dollar Proof in Proof 67 or Proof 68.
In 1964, after the assassination of President Kennedy, the mint began production of the Kennedy Half Dollar. This coin was first produced with a silver content of 90%, then in 1965, the silver content was reduced to 40%, but silver was eliminated from the coin entirely in 1971. The design continues to this day, and millions are minted annually, though they are seldom seen in circulation.
The United States half dollar coin is the second most commonly minted coin, only behind the cent. Starting in 1794, when the United States Mint was established, the half dollar coin has been produced almost every year. Also known as a fifty-cent piece, half dollar coins were commonly used in casinos and rolled into stacks. Unfortunately, despite prominence in the early 1900s, the cost of silver grew too much to warrant further production. The US half dollar soon began to morph in composition, with the silver content declining so that the bullion value of the silver coin no longer exceeded the face value, like with 100% silver half dollars.
Kennedy Half Dollar
Though other coins’ silver content was removed entirely because of rising silver prices, the Kennedy half dollar retained a silver level of 40% through 1970. Perhaps due to the sentimentality, the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar coin is one of the more popular and collectible half dollar coins out there.
Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Walking Liberty half dollars were designed by Adolph A. Weinman and produced from 1916 to 1947, during which they saw various modifications to the original design. The original Walking Liberty Half Dollars show Lady Liberty walking toward a blazing sun on the obverse with a perched bald eagle on the reverse. The design never stuck well and was later replaced by the Franklin half dollar in 1948.
Franklin Half Dollars
Franklin half dollars replaced the Walking Liberty half dollars in 1948 when they were first struck. The Franklin half dollars were minted until 1963 and as their name suggests, feature a profile of Benjamin Franklin on the obverse with a Liberty bell on the reverse. The Franklin half dollar value is far greater than its face value of fifty cents, as it’s considered a coveted rare coin.