- Collectibles & Rare Coins
Half Dollar Coins
U.S. Half Dollars (1794 - Date) - APMEX offers a superb selection of U.S. Half Dollars.United States Half Dollars has long history and tradition to it that few other coins can imitate. The Half Dollar’s place amongst the current monetary system is not as prevalent as in day’s past. A number of reasons correspond to the Half Dollar’s decline in circulation, ranging from the advancement of machinery minting the coin to the gradual increase on the price of Silver. However, the most powerful factor instigating the decline of the half dollar was the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. After Kennedy’s death in 1963, people began to hold on to their half dollars as a keepsake to honor the late commander in chief.
The extensive history of the U.S. Half Dollar dates back as far as the 1700s. In 1794, the half dollar history began with the Flowing Hair Half Dollar, created by Robert Scot. In addition to the Flowing Hair Half Dollar, Scot designed the Draped Bust Half Dollar. The Draped Bust type has two distinct styles, the Small Eagle reverse and the Heraldic Eagle reverse. In 1807, John Reich designed the Capped Bust design that is incredibly popular with collectors today.
In 1836, Christian Gobrecht designed the Reeded Edge Half Dollar, the first U.S. coin made for circulation on the new steam press instead of the then-dated manual screw press. The steam press ensured that each coin received the same strike and diameter every time a press was made. The demise of the Reeded Edge fifty-cent piece in 1839 brought rise to the Liberty Seated Half Dollar, a coin that stayed in circulation until 1891. The Liberty Seated Half Dollar was the last denomination to bear Lady Liberty whom was seated upon a rock, holding a shield in her right hand and a pole with a liberty cap in her left hand. By popular demand to replace the Liberty Seated Half Dollar, a competition was held to design the next coin in 1891. However, the judges of the competition deemed that no design was worthy of the honor. Later that year, Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber designed the Barber Half Dollar.
1916 brought forth the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, many believed the Walking Liberty Half Dollar to be America’s most beautiful Silver coin. However, the elegant design of Lady Liberty walking towards the sun eventually proved difficult to strike, triggering the mint to create a new coin, the Franklin Half Dollar. In 1948, The Franklin Half Dollar was coined. The Franklin Halves were significant because it was the first to place a portrait of an influential figure in American history on the obverse of the coin.
Finally, the last and current coin minted is the Kennedy Half Dollar. After Kennedy had fallen in 1963, the public cried out for a coin to honor his legacy. As a result, the U.S. Mint produced the Kennedy Half Dollar. The Kennedy Halve is significant because it is the last half dollar with a composition of 90% Silver. In early 1964, the public began hoarding Kennedy Halves as a memento of the late president and, consequently, the U.S. Mint adjusted the composition of the coin to 40% Silver and 60% copper clad in 1965 and eventually a copper-nickel clad with no Silver in 1971. However, in 1992, Kennedy Half Dollars were once again purchasable at its original 90% Silver composition to the general public. To this day, Kennedy Half Dollars and other half dollars are highly sought after by collectors everywhere.
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Last Updated: 9/23/2016 5:00:40 PM ET
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