HomeModern CoinsThe 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar: History and Values

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar: History and Values

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar: History and ValuesThe assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, was a huge shock to the American nation and the world, not only because it is rare for an American president to be assassinated but also because Kennedy was widely admired. Following the enormous outpouring of national grief for the slain leader, the Johnson administration quickly put into effect plans for a circulating coin honoring JFK.

Mint Director Ava Adams called United States Mint Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts the very same day JFK died to say plans were being considered to put Kennedy on a coin. The coin could be either a silver quarter, half dollar, or dollar. Mrs. Kennedy’s preference was for it to be a half dollar.

Many members of the public sent letters to the Mint asking for a Kennedy coin, which President Johnson also endorsed, and in December the Congress passed a bill authorizing the new half dollar.

To speed things up, they decided to have Gilroy Roberts make a few modifications to the design from the 1961 inaugural medal he designed as the basis for the obverse, and Frank Gasparro’s heraldic eagle that was on the reverse of a 1961 medal he created so that dies could be made quickly.

The 1964 Kennedy half dollar, made of 90% silver and 10% copper for that year only, was first struck in January 1064 and released into circulation in March – the shortest period ever between the death of an American leader and their appearance on a coin.

Kennedy Half Dollars

Kennedy half dollars were widely hoarded from the start as a memento of JFK, including overseas, even after production was increased, eventually reaching 273,304,004 pieces dated 1964 and another 156,205,446 coins dated 1964-D.

In 1965, the coin’s alloy was changed to 40% silver because, with the rise in silver prices, 90% silver coinage had a melt value equal to or greater than its face value. The Kennedy half dollar remained that way through 1970, and since 1971 it has been made like our dimes and quarters since 1965 of copper-nickel – with an outer core of 75% copper and 25% nickel surrounding an inner core all made of copper.

Both 90% and 40% silver Kennedy half dollars could still be found in change or obtained at banks for many years after they were issued, but that rarely happens now. And although the coins are still struck in clad, since 2002 they are not made for circulation and are only sold by the Mint in rolls, bags, and annual Proof and mint sets.

Silver Kennedy Half Dollar

The silver content of 1964 and 1964-D Kennedy half dollars is just over one-third of an ounce, or .36169 ounces. At the current spot price of silver of $27.50 an ounce, each 90% silver 1964 Kennedy half has $9.95 worth of silver.

1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Values

For the circulation strike 1964 Kennedy half dollar, values start at just over melt for an XF ($11) to $16 in MS60, $20 in MS63, $25 in MS64, $40 in MS65, $85 in MS66, and an impressive $700 in MS67. At that level, only 110 coins have been graded by PCGS including 12 MS67+.

The 1964-D commands the same prices up to MS67, where it is a little less valuable at $550 with a similar population at PCGS in that grade of 95 coins.

Here are nice, affordable BU examples of the 1964 and 1964-D.

There are also a number of special varieties of circulation 1964 Kennedy half dollars, including in particular the scarce Double Die Obverse. On that coin, the doubling is very prominent, especially on the motto “In God We Trust”.

An MS60 DDO is worth $35, MS60 $60, MS63 $125, MS64 $250 and the highest-known grade of MS65 runs $400. There are also some other variety coins for this date.

Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Values

Then there are the Proof coins, which are valued differently depending of the amount of Cameo contrast present on the coins, which are divided between those with no contrast, those with Cameo, and those with Deep Cameo (i.e., strong contrast between the design and fields).

The non-Cameo coins are the most common except for the top grades and are worth from $10 for Proof 60 to $42 in Proof 67, $70 in Proof 68, $135 in Proof 69, and an amazing $3,750 for a rare Proof 70, with only 220 graded by PCGS in the top grade.

For Cameo coins they run from $14 to $45 from Proof 60 to 65, then $60 in PF66, $75 in PF67 and $150 in PF68, and $350 in PF69.

Deep Cameo coins are worth a bit more in each grade up to PF65 than the first two, then $100 in PF66, $200 in PF67 and $600 in PF68, and a whopping $3,000 in PF69 – but only 104 have been graded at that level by PCGS.

Two Versions of the 1964 Proof Kennedy Half Dollar

There are two versions of the 1964 Kennedy half dollar Proof coins that were included in the 1964 silver Proof set, including the normal hair and the accented hair varieties according to numismatists. The ones with stronger and more detailed hairlines are believed to have been the first coins struck, while those with regular hair were made after that. Jacqueline Kennedy asked the mint to soften the hairlines after seeing the earlier version.

In the three different proof finishes mentioned above, the accented variety is more valuable than the regular hair starting at $25, $32 and $50 for Proof, Cameo, and Deep Cameo in PF60 to respectively $80, $140, and $550 in PF65 and topping out at impressive values of $1,100, $5,000 and $25,000 for a rare PF69. Only 62 regular Proof, 12 Cameo, and one Deep Cameo example have been graded at the top grade by PCGS.

So remember to look closely at your 1964 Kennedy half dollar Proof coins to see the hairlines and how much contrast they have.

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  1. Great article. In 2003, I lost my Job and in prayer was told to buy half dollars from all banks. I was obedient and as I went to different banks to buy their half dollars I was surprised to find lots of 90% silver half dollars. Also while visiting a son out of state I asked him to ask his bank and they had a one thousand dollar bag from a coin machine that I bought. This was the greatest find in all my half dollar hunting. There was 450 dollars worth of half dollars. I sold them and the amount I got supported be until I found another job. God was so faithful to me. This hunt lasted for approximately 3 years before the finding of silver half dollars became scarce.

    • I have been dumping Kennedy half dollars and bicentennial quarters into two piggy banks since 1978. I am retired now and I am looking at what have. Everything is for sale at a reasonable price. Is there anyone out there that would be in the market for what I am finding. I just want to deal on a case by case basis with out tons of people saying they want something then you never hear from them again.
      Only real thing I have turned up so far is a 1964 Kennedy half dollar that has what has 3 sections of hair. Is there a buyer and seller out there that wants 1st crack I can talk with?

      • I’m interested in bicentennial coins, at a reasonable price because I was born in 1976.
        I had a decent collection from doing what you did, just putting the ones I found in a piggy bank, but we had a home invasion in 2017, and they were stolen.
        I’m not a big coin collector, I like wheat pennies because my dad saved every one he found (my sister got those).
        So I guess you could say I’ma sentimental collector, not a how much is it worth collector or numismatic, (a new word I learned so I had to use it) lol.

  2. Thanks for the info and. history of the legendary Kennedy coin.I happen to have this beautiful 64 coin and later date enjoy having

  3. Love these coins still remember my grade school teacher crying in class that November 63.
    These half dollars will always be one of my favorite coins too own.

    • I too remember that day, Vicky A stood up and burst into tears as my classmates sat in awe . Teacher said we would be going home out of respect. Was in the 5th grade.

  4. As a Collector of coins stamps ,banknotes paintings, diecast having (2) of the Kennedy half dollars 1964 @ 90% silver and 10% copper still has very low value ,now that silver prices are rising along with world crisis It better to leave them for your children hopefully in another 10-20 yrs they will have an appreciated value either by humans or aliens

  5. I have three 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars. One of which has the mint error of the interrupted bars on the rear going through the stars.

  6. Very clear article. I will just add that there are diagnostics showing slight differences in the lettering, discussed on several sites, for the heavy hair variety. It is subtle though shows up in comparison with the usual issue. With a much lower mintage it’s surprisingly affordable.

  7. I have the whole set of Kennedy halves and several mistake coins too that in P,D,S clad and S silvers all of them been graded only a few of them been updated and have not been graded and have 2005 to 2010 in satin finish in P,D

  8. I have a really really rare 1964 JFK coin that is set in a small booklet that has a message in Japanese that was dated 1964 9 16. and the only thing in English is Mrs. Rudolph A. Peterson. The message is translated to say “We hope that the respect we have for the late President Kennedy will continue to firmly connect the people of Japan and the United States with respect and Friendship”. I have no idea how to go about finding the history and significance behind it.

  9. Hi! I have a 1964 Gold Kennedy Half Dollar with D and FG, I don’t think it has any of the rare mistakes but I think it does have the pronounced hair. I live in the Dallas area and I’m trying to find someone to give me an honest educated estimate of what it might be worth… any recommendations for getting this and my other coins appraised?


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