By Bullion Shark LLC ……
During the 20th century, the United States Mint issued a variety of different types of half dollars, including the final issues of the Barber half dollar (1892-1916), the Walking Liberty half dollar (1917-1947), the Franklin half dollar (1948-1963), and the Kennedy half dollar (1964 to present).
The following are the most valuable issues within each series based on prices realized during auctions.
Barber Half Dollar
1904-S PCGS MS67 CAC sold for $138,000 in August 2010
This coin is one of only three examples of the 1904-S that have received a grade of MS67 from either PCGS or NGC, with only a total of eight examples that grade MS65 or finer. In addition to being a condition rarity, the issue is also one of the rarest issues of the series with an original mintage of just 553,038.
1905 PCGS MS68+ CAC sold for $132,250 in August 2010
This coin is the single-highest-graded Barber half dollar and also has stunning toning. In addition, only 662,000 of this issue were struck in Philadelphia in 1905. Only 12 other examples of the date have been certified higher than MS65 by either PCGS or NGC.
Walking Liberty Half Dollar
1919-D PCGS MS66 sold for $270,250 in November 2004
At the Gem Mint State level, the 1919-D Walker is the rarest coin of the series with only 11 coins graded MS65 PCGS, and just one – this example – that graded MS66. While it’s not a full strike (they don’t exist for this issue), this one has clear definition in Liberty’s thumb and head, and the skirtlines are visible to the knee.
1921-S NGC MS66 sold for $188,000 in June 2016
In addition to being one of the key dates of the Walking Liberty half series, the 1921-S is the rarest of those coins in Mint State. It is estimated that after factoring in resubmissions of the same coin, there are fewer than 200 Mint State examples of this issue, and this example that sold in 2016 is one of only three that have been graded MS66.
Franklin Half Dollar
1953 PCGS MS66 sold for $69,000 in January 2001
In 1953 the half dollars struck at the San Francisco Mint mostly had weak details on the Liberty Bell on the coin’s reverse with fewer than 50 Full Bell Line coins estimated to exist. In fact, this is the weakest-struck coin of the series. Most of the FBL coins are believed to have been among the first coins struck and tend to be in MS65 or higher grades. There is only one other MS66 FBL example and one MS67 FBL at PCGS. Following the sale of this example in 2001 for much more than was expected, interest in the series has continued to increase.
1958 PCGS MS67+ FBL sold for $129,250 in September 2018
In MS65 and MS66 without FBL, this date is not rare, but with FBL–especially in the top grade of MS67–it is very elusive. Only 30 have received this grade at PCGS and four have been certified MS67+, and of those coins, this example is the finest with amazing, wild toning on it. When sold in 2018, it garnered the most money ever for a Franklin half.
Kennedy Half Dollar
These coins were made in 90% silver only in 1964, then in 40% silver from 1965 to 1970, and beginning with the 1971 Kennedy half dollar to the present have been from copper-nickel. An important subtype of the series and the only one that marked a design change is the 1776-1976 bicentennial half dollars made in 1975 and 1976 that were issued along with special designs for the quarter and $1 coin.
1964 SMS PCGS SP68 sold for $156,000 in August 2019
The king of Kennedy half dollars is a coin with a lot of mystery surrounding how it came into existence. In 1964, in addition to the business strike and Proof examples of the first year of issue of the new Kennedy series, a small number (estimated at 12) coins that are believed but not certain to have been experimental strikes were made to determine what finish would be used on coins from 1965 to 1967 when the Mint did not issue any Proof or Mint Sets and instead issued Special Mint Sets.
These Kennedy halves from 1964 have a strong and crisp strike but not the reflective fields of Proofs. While there is little in the way of documentation, they are believed to have been made for Mint Director Eva Adams as gifts or she may have opted to keep them. Most of the examples that have surfaced to date likely came from her estate. Only five have been graded Specimen 68 and just one at SP69.
1967 SMS NGC MS69 Ultra Cameo sold for $31,200 in January 2019
After 90% silver coins were discontinued in 1964, the Mint stopped issuing Proof and Mint Sets from 1965 to 1967 and instead issued Special Mint Sets whose coins were of better-than-circulation-quality but not nearly as good as Proofs. For that reason, it is hard to find high-graded examples of coins from those sets, and this example is the only MS69 UC graded by NGC with no comparable coin graded by PCGS.
1964-D PCGS MS68 sold for $22,325 in February 2016
This coin is the only example of this issue that has been graded MS68 by either major grading service. When it was sold in 2016, that was the first time it had ever appeared for sale at auction.
1964 Accented Hair NGC PF68 sold for $19,975 in January 2017
There are two types of 1964 Kennedy halves – type 1 with accented hair, and type 2 without the bold part in Kennedy’s hair seen on type 1 coins. It is rarely seen graded PF68 with only 10 coins certified in that grade, and only two finer.