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HomeUS Coins1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock.
1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes ….
 

While the United States Mint facility in Denver struck 32,472,244 1983-D Kennedy Half Dollars, it was still uncommon to encounter a half dollar in circulation in the second half of the 20th century. This was because the Mint never produced the coin at adequate numbers to ensure its use in commerce (look, for example, at clad Washington Quarter mintages), and the Kennedy Half’s sporadic appearance in pocket change only reinforced its appeal as a collectible. As the budding coin collectors of a certain generation pulled any Kennedy Half Dollars they did find from circulation, a feedback loop of hoarding and lack of commercial use ruined what should have been an economic workhorse of a denomination. Just four years later, the Mint didn’t need to produce new half dollars, and in 2002, Kennedy Half Dollars were struck exclusively for collectors, with circulating coinage resuming only in 2021.

Ultimately, however, pulling those half dollars from circulation was likely for naught as
a 1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar has to be in Uncirculated or Mint State condition to be worth much over face. Nevertheless, the 1983-D and the 1983-P are more valuable than most clad Kennedy dates since the Mint did not produce annual Uncirculated Coin Sets in both 1982 and 1983. The only way collectors could be sure to obtain Uncirculated Kennedy Halves that year was to buy a Souvenir Set produced for sale exclusively at Mint facility gift shops (coins in bags and rolls might have nicks and scratches).

Also of note, 1983-dated half dollars were the first Kennedy Half Dollar issue to feature a slight design modification as the Mint moved the date and inscriptions further away from the edge of the coin that year.

How Much Is the 1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar Worth?

The 1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar is not a rare coin, and as already stated it must show no wear or post-mint damage to be worth a numismatic premium. Examples in higher Gem Mint State have sold for hundreds of dollars in online auctions, and one PCGS top pop coin graded MS68 sold for $4,230 including buyer’s fee in 2016. Raw coins in visibly Mint State condition sell on eBay for about $1. Toners have sold recently (as of June 2024) for $3.

But even though the Kennedy Half Dollar market may not be as underdeveloped as the market for ultramodern business strike U.S coins, certified populations probably represent only part of the available material for the date. Still, only so many top pops will ever be made by CAC, NGC, and PCGS.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS68 (1, 6/2024), NGC MS68 (1, 6/2024), and CAC N/A (0:0 stickered:graded, 6/2024).

  • PCGS MS68 #25640398: Heritage, January 8, 2016, Lot 5838 – $4,230.00.
  • PCGS MS67+ #47307881: GreatCollections, June 23, 2024 – View. Russet-toned spot on forehead at hairline. Secure Shield holder.
  • PCGS MS67 #29593619: GreatCollections, May 18, 2014 – View; GreatCollections, November 6, 2022 – View.
  • PCGS MS67 #46685028: GreatCollections, April 23, 2023 – View. Secure Shield holder.
  • PCGS MS67 #25679610: GreatCollections, July 26, 2015 – View.
  • NGC MS67 #206549-004: GreatCollections, February 15, 2015 – View.
  • PCGS MS67 #34114712: GreatCollections, May 8, 2022 – View.

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Design

Obverse:

The obverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar was designed by Gilroy Roberts, Chief Engraver at the United States Mint from July 22, 1948, to February 11, 1965. Roberts also designed President Kennedy’s inaugural medal, which served as the basis of the present design.

The central motif is an effigy of the 35th President of the United States, the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A war hero and (at the time) the youngest person ever to serve as president, Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20, 1961, and assassinated on November 22, 1963. The nation’s grief was such that Congress and the Mint rushed through a design change on the half dollar denomination to commemorate the bereaved president.

The word LIBERTY, widely spaced, arcs clockwise along the upper half of the coin, with Kennedy’s hair covering the bottom portions of the letters “B”, “E”, and “R”. The date 1983 is at the bottom of the coin, while the motto IN GOD WE TRUST is inscribed in a straight line above the year but divided by the sharp truncation of Kennedy’s neck. The mintmark “D” is found on the right side of the point of this truncation.

Gilroy Roberts’ initials are on the truncation line of Kennedy’s bust, above the “WE” on the bottom right side of the coin.

Reverse:

1970-D Kennedy Half Dollar ReverseAssistant Engraver Frank Gasparro designed the reverse. He based the eagle on the Presidential Coat of Arms from the Seal of the President of the United States, which is based on the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States. The Presidential Seal in its current form was finalized by President Harry S. Truman in 1945, though the number of stars on the seal (and hence the coin) went from 48 to 50 as the states of Alaska and Hawaii entered the Union.

The heraldic eagle’s wings and legs are spread in four directions. The sinister claw (viewer’s right) holds arrows, a symbol of war, while the dexter claw (viewer’s left) holds an olive branch, a symbol of peace. It is tradition for the eagle to face one side or the other relative to national circumstances at the time of striking; in this instance, the eagle faces towards the olive branch despite America’s involvement in Vietnam and other conflicts at the time.

A Union shield covers the eagle’s breast. Vertical bars representing the 13 red and white stripes of the American flag run down most of its face, representing the original 13 colonies of the United States. The top of the shield (a horizontal band is otherwise known in heraldry as a chief) features no stars.

Above the eagle’s head is a scroll featuring the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The design behind and above the eagle, which consists of 15 rays, nine stars, and a mass of clouds, is called the glory and is a common design element of both heraldry and an earlier period of numismatics.

The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA runs clockwise along the top rim of the reverse, while the denomination HALF DOLLAR runs counterclockwise along the bottom. Dots are placed between the two inscriptions at both ends. Surrounding the eagle is a ring of 50 stars, representing the 50 states at the time of the coin’s production.

Frank Gasparro’s initials FG are between the eagle’s left leg and tail feathers.

Edge:

The edge of the 1983-D Kennedy half dollar is reeded.

Designers

Gilroy Roberts was the ninth Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, serving from 1948 to 1965. He is primarily remembered for his design of the Kennedy half dollar obverse.

Frank Gasparro was an American medalist and coin designer. After serving as Gilroy Roberts’s assistant engraver, he became the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, serving from 1965 to 1981. Besides the Kennedy Half Dollar reverse, Gasparro also designed the Lincoln Memorial Cent, the Eisenhower Dollar obverse and regular reverse, and the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, among other works (View Designer’s Profile).

1983-D Kennedy Half Dollar Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1983
Denomination: Half Dollar (50 Cents USD)
Mintmark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 32,472,244
Alloy: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Weight: 11.34 g
Diameter: 30.60 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Gilroy Roberts
REV Designer: Frank Gasparro
Quality: Business Strike

 

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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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1 COMMENT

  1. Im a very Advent collector I’ve been collecting for over 30 years.and I know most of the coinage to try to collect.So I really love a update on some errors or coins that are gaining in the collection world.so any extra information I really appreciate it.thx you.rev.b8ll.marcum

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