Kennedy Half Dollar

1964 – Current Three months after the assasination of President Kennedy the US Mint changed the design of the silver half dollar to honor JFK. In 1964, when the Kennedy Half Dollar was first minted, it contained the usual 90% silver content (11.25 g) that Americans were familiar with. A year later the silver content was reduced and the coin was lightened. From 1965 up through 1970 Kennedy Half Dollars contain only 40% silver, which comes out to 4.60 g per coin. When 1971 rolled around Americans were presented with half dollars which contained nothing more than copper and nickel. Kennedy Half Dollar In 1965 the composition of US dimes and quarters were also changed to remove the silver. And finally in 1970, with the removal of silver from the half dollar, the days of silver coinage being...

Walking Liberty Half Dollar

1916 – 1947 In 1916 The Walking Liberty half dollar, also referred to as the Walker, replaced the Barber half dollar and marked a change in the way US coins were designed. Since 1793, when the US mint first opened, the half dollar, quarter dollar and the dime had all carried the same design. President Theodore Roosevelt wanted the US mint to change the way the coins were designed so that each denomination would have a different look. The striking of the new Winged Liberty, or “Mercury” dime, the Standing Liberty quarter and the Walking Liberty half ended the long practice of using a uniform design on US coins. The obverse of the Walking Liberty half features Lady Liberty walking toward the sunrise. Her right hand is extended and in her left hand she holds laurel and oak branches....

Barber Half Dollar

1892 – 1915 The Barber Half Dollar is also referred to as the Liberty Head Half Dollar. Throughout the 1880s relatively little quarters and halves were struck as the government had sufficient stock piles of older coins in it’s vaults to satisfy demand. By 1890 the stockpile of quarters and halves  had dropped to levels low enough as to require more normal production numbers. At this time plans were being made to modify the design of US silver coins. In 1890 a contest was setup at the behest of Mint Director James P. Kimball to obtain a new design for US silver coins. The Treasury received around 300 entries, but not a single one was deemed to be good enough for use on the new coins. In 1891 the task of designing the new coins was turned over to Charles E. Barber, chief sculptor...

Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar

1948 – 1963 The Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar was the first circulated US coin to feature a real person, who was not a president, in the design. The idea for a coin to honor Benjamin Franklin came from Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross. Franklin was very well known and respected not only for his role as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, but also for his talents as a writer, printer, scientist and inventor. Sinnock died in 1947 before the design of the Benjamin Franklin half dollar was completed. He had not included an eagle in the design, although the Coinage Act of 1873 mandated that an eagle had to appear on all US silver containing coins bigger than the dime. The task of adding the eagle to the reverse was given to Gilroy Roberts. The Federal Commission of Fine Art disapproved...