Each coin contains approximately 0.1479 troy oz of 40% silver
Face value of 50 cents
Designed by Gilroy Roberts
Obverse features John F. Kennedy
Reverse displays a bald eagle and the Presidential Seal
In the early 1960s, the price of silver grew significantly as a result of a supply shortage. 90% Silver Coins were still being produced at the time, including the Kennedy Half Dollar which was released in 1964. This particular coin was extremely popular among the public, however, most people chose to hoard their Kennedy Half Dollars rather than spend them.
The United States Mint originally planned to release 91 million 90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars but, in fact, ended up producing 430 million to meet the strong demand. As people were keen to hold onto these coins, they were rarely seen in circulation, which led to the massive increase in the price of silver. This meant that the U.S. Mint could no longer produce Silver Coins containing .900 pure silver.
On June 3, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson suggested the removal of silver from all American quarters and dimes, as well as reducing the Kennedy Half Dollar’s silver content to 40%. As a result, the U.S. Mint created its first ever 40% Silver Coin and continued to issue the coin until 1970. The 40% Silver Eisenhower Dollar later followed and was minted between 1971 and 1976.
Just hours after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, the United States Mint planned to feature his profile on a coin. It was U.S. Mint director Eva Adams who reached out to her chief engraver, Gilroy Roberts about designing an image for either the Silver Dollar, Half-Dollar or Quarter. Adams also spoke with President Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline about the coin. Jacqueline chose the Half Dollar because she didn’t want George Washington’s profile to be replaced on the Quarter. With Jacqueline’s approval, the U.S. Mint began designing the new Silver Half Dollar Coin.
The obverse side of the coin displays the profile of John F. Kennedy with the year of issue, along with the inscriptions LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. On the reverse of the coin is the Presidential Seal with a bald eagle holding a shield, olive branch and arrows. The coins ONE DOLLAR value and the markings UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM can also be found on the coin’s reverse.
As previously mentioned, the Silver Kennedy Half Dollar was originally made of 90% silver and was hardly ever seen in circulation. People were more interested in keeping hold of their Kennedy Half Dollars instead of spending them, especially as the coins were limited to 40 per person. The coin was so popular, individuals were lining the streets to grab the latest releases and the Treasury could not keep up with demand. Having said that, the U.S. Mint produced 430 million 90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars rather than just the 91 million it had originally wanted to make.
Perhaps the popularity of the coin comes from the fact that President John F. Kennedy was loved by so many and his death shocked not only America but also the world. Whatever the reason behind the coin’s acceptance, the U.S. Mint was draining the Treasury’s silver supply to keep up with the high demand. In 1965, the coin’s silver content was reduced to 40%, meaning the Kennedy Half Dollar only contained 90% silver in 1964.
In July 1965, the U.S. Mint began making the Kennedy Half Dollar with 20% copper and an outer layer of 80% silver, giving the coin a total of 40% pure silver content. The 40% Silver Kennedy Half Dollar was also rarely circulated because people chose to hoard this version of the coin as well and very few examples were struck in the last year of production in 1970. As of 1971, the Treasury had eliminated all silver from American coinage including the Kennedy Half Dollar.
After the death of Dwight D. Eisenhower in March 1969, it was suggested that the country should honor its 34th President with a new coin design. While some believed it would make more sense to mint the coin in base metal, others felt it more fitting to strike a coin containing 40% silver. In 1970, it was decided that the Eisenhower Dollar should be produced using base metal; however, a collectible version of the coin composed of 40% silver was also released.
On the coin’s obverse is a left-facing profile of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the mintage year, plus the engravings LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. The reverse side features an American eagle with outspread wings and an olive branch grasped in his claws. The stunning bird is flying over the moon and surrounded by thirteen stars, with a small image of the earth in the background. Accompanying the ONE DOLLAR engraving on the coin’s reverse are the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM. Both of the designs were created by Frank Gasparro.
The only Eisenhower Dollars to contain 40% silver were minted from 1971 to 1976, none of which were meant for circulation. All 40% Silver Eisenhower Dollars were regarded special edition coins and had been made to appeal to collectors.
While the Kennedy Half Dollar and Eisenhower Dollar are the two most popular 40% Silver Coins, there are two more pieces you might want to consider. Firstly, there are the 40% Silver Washington Quarter Mint and Proof Sets minted between 1975 and 1976 at the San Francisco Mint. There’s also the Jefferson Wartime Nickel, struck from 1942 to 1945, which is composed of 35% pure silver.
With three different 40% Silver Coin designs to select from, as well as the 35% Jefferson Wartime Nickel, you can either buy these pieces in bulk or try to hunt down rare years or mintmarks. How you choose to collect or invest in these coins is entirely up to you but all 40% Silver Coins will certainly offer excellent historical value. They also tend to be reasonably priced and more affordable than the 90% silver alternatives.
If you’d like to get your hands on 40% Silver Coins, Capital Gold Coins is more than capable of fulfilling your requests. From the Kennedy Half Dollar and Eisenhower Dollar to the Washington Quarter Sets and 35% Silver Jefferson Wartime Nickel, you can always rely on us to find the right pieces to add to your collection. Please feel free to contact us for more information about our full selection of vintage coins.