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IN Half Dollar Coins

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Half Dollar Coins


Commonly called “Half” for short, Half Dollars date back to 1794 when the first Half Dollar Coins were struck. During that year, the United States Mint only released 5,300 pieces, known as the Flowing Hair Half Dollar Coins. In 1795, around 160,295 more Flowing Hair Half Dollars were minted. America’s first ever Half Dollar was designed by a man named Robert Scot who also created the Draped Bust Half Dollar in 1796.

Now disappeared from circulation, the demise of the Half Dollar began with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, when the United States Mint placed his portrait on the coin. That’s not to say the coin wasn’t well received by the general public though. Quite the opposite. The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was instantly hoarded as a treasured keepsake of the President and, as a result, few made it into circulation. Continued rises in the price of silver also lead people to hoard the coins.

Although Half Dollar Coins are no longer produced for general circulation, they certainly have a long and interesting history. Various designs were released over the years until 2002 when the United States Mint decided to issues Half Dollars only for the collecting community. Commemorative issues dating back as far as 1892 have also been minted in America.

Most Coveted Half Dollar Coins

Half Dollar Coins have always been favored by coin hobbyists because they have an extraordinary history and are blessed with some very wonderful and important designs. Since fading out of general circulation, some pieces have become a lot rarer than others but all Half Dollars are deemed highly collectible items. Keep reading to find out more about some of America’s most sought-after Half Dollar Coins.

Early Half Dollars

As mentioned above, the Flowing Hair Half Dollar was designed by Robert Scot and became the first Half Dollar Coin to be produced by the United States Mint in 1794. Featuring Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse, surviving Flowing Hair Half Dollar are scarce, particularly the first year of issue. It continued to be produced throughout 1795 and was replaced by the Draped Bust Half Dollar in 1796. Robert Scot also developed the Draped Bust Half Dollar, which was struck with two different reverses including the small eagle and the heraldic eagle.

Reeded Edge Half Dollars

One of the most popular early Half Dollar designs is the Capped Bust Half Dollar, which was created by John Reich and lasted from 1807 to 1839. However, a different version of the coin designed by Christian Gobrecht was issued between 1836 and 1839. The coins released from 1836 to 1839 were the only ones minted with a reeded edge after the United States Mint started using a steam-power press capable of producing coins with a closed collar. This new technology also enhanced the overall quality of the coins. The key date from this short-lived series is the 1836 Half Dollar.

Liberty Seated Half Dollars

Introduced in 1839, the Liberty Seated Half Dollar was an instant hit with the general public and remained that way until the series ended in 1891. Nearly two million coins were struck in the first year of issue, some of which showing Liberty with no drapery by her elbow. This means that two major versions were produced at the time, with the “No-Drapery” pieces being extremely scarce. In 1866, Liberty Seated Half Dollars were given the IN GOD WE TRUST motto, meaning all coins minted before this year do not feature this phrase. Other design changes took place over the years, including the addition of arrowheads and rays.

Barber Half Dollars

Minted between 1892 and 1915, Barber Half Dollars were designed by U.S Mint engraver, Charles E. Barber. However, Barber wasn’t the Mint’s first choice. Two contests were held, one including well-known sculptors and the other inviting members of the public to submit designs for the coin. As all of the sculptors pulled out of the first competition and every entry from the second was rejected, Barber was the Mint’s last hope. Minor modifications were made to the coin over the years in order to improve the design. Produced for less than 25 years, Barber Half Dollar Coins have become increasingly difficult to find in most grades.

Walking Liberty Half Dollars

Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar is one of the most collected coins of all time. Issued by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1947, the coin replaced the Barber Half Dollar and has been a favorite with numismatists ever since its initial release. A full-length image of the famous Lady Liberty wearing the American flag graces the obverse of the coin and an eagle perched high upon a mountain crag is shown on the reverse. Having served America during two world wars and the Great Depression, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar has become a true symbol of the strength and resolve of our nation.

Franklin Half Dollars

It was United States Mint director, Nellie Tayloe Ross who wanted to feature Franklin on the Half Dollar Coin, which was struck from 1948 to 1963. Her chief engraver, John R. Sinnock came up with the designs; however, Gilroy Roberts had to complete the images because Sinnock died before getting the chance to finish them. The designs for the Franklin Half Dollar were actually rejected by the Commission of Fine Arts but Treasury officials took no notice as they believed both images were perfect for the coin. Composed of 90% silver with a reeded edge, the Franklin Half Dollar became the first American coin to depict a historical figure.

Kennedy Half Dollars

Released after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Kennedy Half Dollar quickly became the most hoarded silver coin in America. When the United States Mint began striking the coin in 1964, it contained 90% silver. By 1965, the Mint reduced the percentage to 40% and later removed all traces of silver from the coin in 1971. The Kennedy Half Dollar was rarely seen in circulation, even after it became a copper-nickel clad coin. In 2002, the Mint decided to only produce Kennedy Half Dollar Coins to satisfy collectors.

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