The US half dollar coin, first minted in 1794, was one of the first denominations minted by the US government. It was one of the most critical moments in the history of this young nation, finally establishing itself as not only politically independent from European powers, but also commercially.
Half-dollar coins are history-rich additions to the collections of both seasoned and new coin collectors alike. Explore everything from classic Barber halves to modern Kennedy halves today and add a new piece of history to your collection with L&C Coins.
The Evolution of the Iconic Half Dollar Coin
The origin of the US half dollar dates back to the late 18th century, when the United States was a young and burgeoning nation. To establish a standard currency and facilitate trade, the Coinage Act of 1792 authorized the production of various coin denominations. The half dollar was one of these denominations, and the first was minted in 1793.
The half dollar coin has undergone numerous design changes since its inception, each representing a unique time of American history, culture, and artistic tastes. Our collection begins with the iconic Barber half dollar, which replaced the Liberty Seated half dollar.
The Barber half dollar coin was designed by Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber, who also designed the rest of the Barber coinage series. Its obverse features the profile of Lady Liberty facing to the right, a wreath of laurels on her head and stars surrounding her. The reverse is the heraldic eagle, holding a laurel branch and arrows in its claws and bearing a shield over its chest. Above it shine 13 stars, each representing one of the original American colonies, and clutched in its beak is a ribbon bearing the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM. It was minted from 1892 to 1915.
As America watched the world be engulfed in World War I, sculptor Adolf A. Weinmann designed the Walking Liberty half dollar. On this obverse is a detailed Lady Liberty striding left as a sun rises on the eastern horizon. She carries branches of both oak and laurel, symbols of both civil and militaristic achievement, and her right hand is held ahead of her, offering liberty to all who seek it. The reverse bears an eagle of equal detail, standing on a mountain craig with wings slightly raised. This ornate US half dollar coin circulated between 1916 and 1947, and is recognized today as one of the most beautiful coins to have ever been used as American currency.
Its successor, the Franklin half dollar, was minted from 1948 to 1963. Chief Engraver John Sinnock engraved the right-facing profile of Benjamin Franklin on the obverse. On the reverse, Sinnock put the Liberty bell, a well-known symbol of independence and liberty in the face of rule from the British Empire.
With the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1964, however, the Mint released the modern Kennedy half dollar that remains in circulation today. The obverse of this half dollar coin features the profile of Kennedy, the hint of a smile on the corner of his lips. The reverse is the Presidential seal, featuring the heraldic eagle in front of a collection of stars and annulets. The entire reverse is surrounded by stars.
Circulation and Availability
Throughout its history, the US half dollar coin has experienced varying levels of circulation and availability. In fact, it took several years for it to even enter circulation due to the US Mint struggling to produce enough coins.
While mintages fluctuate depending on the design and era, millions of half dollars have been produced. Notable production quirks include the 1964-D "Double Die" Kennedy half dollar, which exhibits a doubled image on the reverse, making it a sought-after rarity among collectors.
Although still in production and considered legal tender, the half dollar's circulation significantly decreased after the 1970s, primarily due to inflation and the increasing popularity of smaller denominations. The current Kennedy half dollar is minted mainly for collectors.
Explore Your Passion With an Industry Leader
Founded in 1974, L&C Coins is a family-owned business that has been trusted by coin collectors for almost 50 years — and we’re eager to show you why. Our extensive knowledge of the coin market allows us to provide you with new issues and classic pieces to help you shape your collection the way you want. We take into account your tastes and interests while giving you a seamless customer experience. Explore our expansive collection today and enjoy free shipping on all standard orders, and express shipping starting at only $25. Plus, any coin can be returned within 15 days, as long as it hasn’t been removed from its holder.
Have any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us to speak with a coin expert today!
What are the different designs found on half dollar coins?
Throughout history, the US half dollar has featured numerous designs, including the Flowing Hair (1794-1795), the Draped Bust (1796-1807), the Capped Bust (1807-1839), the Seated Liberty (1839-1891), the Barber (1892-1915), the Walking Liberty (1916-1947), the Franklin (1948-1963), and the Kennedy (1964-present). Each design represents distinct historical periods and figures, contributing to this US coin's cultural significance.
What are half dollar coins made of?
The composition of the half dollar has evolved over time. Early half dollars, such as the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust, were made of 90% silver and 10% copper. From 1965 to 1970, Kennedy half dollars were composed of 40% silver and 60% copper. Since 1971, the composition has been a clad sandwich of copper-nickel alloy layers around a pure copper core. This change aimed to reduce production costs and prevent the hoarding of silver coins for their precious metal content.
Discover Brilliant, Quality Half Dollars for Sale at L&C Coins
L&C Coins offers a large selection of US half-dollar coins that will delight seasoned and new coin collectors alike. Along with Walking Liberty halves, newer coin collectors often like to start with historic 1965 Kennedy Halves. If you’re a veteran collector searching for certified half dollars in great condition, coins like 1893 Barber Halves are sure to pique your interest.
With our ever-evolving selection and wide range of price points ($10 to $20,000), you’re sure to find the perfect US half-dollar coin to grow your unique collection.
Explore Your Passion With an Industry Leader
L&C Coins has been trusted by coin collectors for almost 50 years, and we’re eager to show you why. Our extensive knowledge of the coin market allows us to provide you with new issues and classic pieces to help you shape your collection the way you want. We take into account your tastes and interests while giving you a seamless customer experience.
We offer free shipping on all standard orders, and express shipping starts at only $25. Any coin can be returned within 15 days, as long as it hasn’t been removed from its holder. Layaway plans are available interest-free for up to 5 months. Have any questions? Contact us to speak with a coin expert today!