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HomeUS Coins1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof : A Collector's Guide

1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof : A Collector’s Guide

1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

Before issuing its 1964 Proof Sets, the United States Mint had produced Proof coins for collector purchase from 1950 onward. In 1965, the Mint suspended Proof production for three years while the country transitioned from silver to copper-nickel-clad coinage. When Proof coinage resumed in 1968, the Mint shifted Proof production from Philadelphia to the San Francisco Assay Office (formerly the San Francisco Mint). From this point forward, annual Proof issues typically carry the “S” mintmark.

1964 United States Proof Set. Image: CoinWeek.
1964 United States Proof Set. Image: CoinWeek.

With the 1964 Proof coinage being the last of the Philadelphia Proof Set issues, it is primarily considered the final set in the run of 1950-64 sets. For the 1964 set, the Mint provided one Proof coin of each denomination (from one cent to 50 cents) and packaged them in soft plastic with a pouch to house each coin and an extra pocket that housed a paper seal of the United States Mint.

The Mint offered 1964 Proof Sets at an initial retail price of $2.10 each. In total, the Mint reported sales of 3,950,762 sets. Today, these sets sell for an average price of about $30.

As a standalone coin, the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof trades as a single or certified coin, graded by CAC, NGC, or PCGS. Most of these coins should grade Proof 65 or above, with a small percentage of the issue earning the Cameo or Deep/Ultra Cameo designations, depending on the degree of frost on the coin’s devices.

By CoinWeek’s estimate, fewer than one in 20 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proofs are struck with enough frost to earn the Deep Cameo attribution. These coins carry the highest premiums for the issue, with PR68DCAMs trading for several hundred dollars apiece on average and PR69DCAMs selling for $2,000 or more at auction.

A popular 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof variety exhibits stronger hair detail above President Kennedy’s ear. In top condition, examples of this variety can sell for at least five times more than what the more common coin in the same grade would.

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Regular Proof Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS PR70/PR69DCAM (31/134, 5/2024). NGC PF69UC (169, 5/2024). CACG PR69/PR67DCAM (1/1, 5/2024).

The PCGS PR70 population for the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof has been stable for over 20 years. Only 29 were graded 70 as of October 2013. At the time of this writing (May 2024), that population has risen to just 31 coins. Curiously, 19 of the 29 pre-October 2013 coins were graded before 2003 as part of one 77-coin 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof coin submission. The other 58 coins were certified as PR69. It appears that these 70s were trickled out into the market at a slow rate over a decade.

  • PCGS PR70 #7722380: Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2015, Lot 5285 – $4,700.
  • PCGS PR70 #7722384: Heritage Auctions, December 5, 2013, Lot 3496 – $9,400.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #7738441: Stack’s Bowers, June 14, 2023, Lot 3161 – $1,680; Stack’s Bowers, March 28, 2024, Lot 7202 – $1,740. Spot to the left of 9.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #45492637: Heritage Auctions, August 26, 2022, Lot 4607 – $5,520.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #4343197: Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2020, Lot 3622 – $4,200.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #85183586: GreatCollections, September 17, 2017, Lot 492276 – View; Stack’s Bowers, May 23, 2019, Lot 324 – $2,400.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #82609086: “The Rosie Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 17, 2018, Lot 3394 – $1,560.
  • NGC PF69UCAM #1954470-004: Stack’s Bowers, August 3, 2017, Lot 1105 – $940.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #70032961: Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2015, Lot 5286 – $4,230.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #21686090: Heritage Auctions, June 2, 2006, Lot 2009 – $3,622.50.
  • PCGS PR69DCAM #21436308: Heritage Auctions, April 28, 2006, Lot 3170 – $3,737.50.

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1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof – Accented Hair

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof with Accented Hair, often referred to as the Type I Proof due to its emission sequence, was struck using an obverse die that featured more detail in Kennedy’s hair.

1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Hair Types. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Hair Types. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

As you can see in the image above, the two hairstyles are similar for the most part. The main difference is the completeness of three strands of hair to the left of a large curled hairline that is visible on both coins roughly halfway from the bottom of the Left leg of R to the top of the ear. On the “normal” hair die, only the bottom of these strands are visible. Perhaps as many as 3% of the 3,950,762 coins struck for the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof feature Accented Hair. This popular variety is the key to the Kennedy Half Dollar Proof series.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS PR69DCAM (5, 5/2024). NGC PF69UCAM (4, 5/2024). CACG PR67 (1, 5/2024).

The PCGS population of 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Proofs with Accented Hair in PR68DCAM was eight coins none finer from April 2003 through April 2013. As of May 2024, that population sits at 32 coins, with five finer. The first PCGS PR69DCAM coins were made in 2018.

  • PCGS PR69DCAM #46367613: Heritage Auctions, July 20, 2023, Lot 3090 – $30,001.20; Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2024, Lot 4080 – $46,800.
  • NGC PF69UCAM #6486001-005: Heritage Auctions, December 15, 2022, Lot 3494 – $45,600.
  • NGC PF68+UCAM #4673558-005: Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2019, Lot 4511 – $13,200.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #1608069: Stack’s Bowers, June 13, 2023, Lot 2025 – $6,000.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #45701852: Heritage Auctions, May 4, 2023, Lot 4024 – $7,200.
  • NGC PF68UCAM #5748589-001: Heritage Auctions, June 2, 2020, Lot 21312 – $14,400.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #35356018: “The Rosie Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1173 – $12,000; Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2019, Lot 5083 – $10,800; Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2019, Lot 3602 – $9,600; Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2020, Lot 3949 – $9,300.
  • NGC PF68UCAM #164798-045: “The V.A. Everest Collection,” Heritage Auctions, July 2003, Lot 8113; Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2019, Lot 5232 – $8,400.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #84644123: Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2018, Lot 4265 – $16,800.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #84277464: Heritage Auctions, September 7, 2017, Lot 3874 – $17,400.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #84375973: Heritage Auctions, August 2, 2017, Lot 4009 – $17,625.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #83156730: Heritage Auctions, April 4, 2017, Lot 15789 – $19,975; Heritage Auctions, November 8, 2018, Lot 3135 – $10,800.
  • NGC PF68UCAM #3101801-002: Heritage Auctions, January 2013, lot 5052 – $9,987.50; “The Mile High Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2017, Lot 4945 – $19,975; Heritage Auctions, November 2, 2017, Lot 16789 – $12,600.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #04775073: Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2008, Lot 2239 – $12,650; Heritage Auctions, January 8, 2009, Lot 3919 – $11,500; “The MKJ Collection, Part II,” Heritage Auctions, June 6, 2013, Lot 4594 – $15,128.13.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #27359176: “The Elite Cameo Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 25, 2013, Lot 4310 – $13,042.50.
  • PCGS PR68DCAM #5425910: Heritage Auctions, September 19, 2003, Lot 7411 – $6,325.

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Design

Obverse:

Mint Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts adapted the Kennedy Half Dollar obverse from his work on Kennedy’s Inaugural medal. Kennedy’s left-facing portrait is the design’s central motif. Wrapping around the upper portion of the rim is the inscription LIBERTY. The national motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, is inscribed in a straight line that extends from the left edge to the right edge of the coin, with GOD and WE separated by the truncation of Kennedy’s neck. The date 1964 wraps around the bottom of the design. Gilroy Roberts’ designer’s initials appear on the truncation of Kennedy’s neck above the word WE.

Reverse:

Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro adapted the Kennedy Half Dollar reverse design from the Seal of the President of the United States. A heraldic eagle is splayed, its chest protected by the Union shield. Clutched in its beak is a ribbon emblazoned with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. A glory of rays, clouds, and stars fans out from behind the eagle. The 13 stars represent the original British American colonies, while the rays and clouds signify heaven and the divine providence the founders believed inspired the formation of the United States. The eagle’s talons grip an olive branch in its dexter and a spray of arrows in its sinister. Fifty stars surround this central motif.

The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA wraps around the top of the design. The denomination, HALF DOLLAR, wraps around the bottom. Frank Gasparro’s initials “FG” appear between the eagle’s left leg and tail feathers.

Edge:

The edge of the 1964 Kennedy half dollar is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Kennedy Half Dollar
Year Of Issue: 1964
Denomination: Half Dollar (50 Cents USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 3,950,762 (up to 3% with Accented Hair)
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 12.5 g
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Gilroy Roberts
REV Designer: Frank Gasparro
Quality: Proof

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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