US Silver Half Dollars

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Half Dollars

Most half dollars produced previous to 1965 were composed of 90 percent silver when they were struck at the mint. Their true value, often known as their melt value, is more than their face value of fifty cents. When you buy silver, you should be on the lookout for, and holding onto, these particular coins because of their higher value.

The 50-cent coin of the United States is the half dollar. The half dollar’s obverse (heads) depicts our 35th president, John F. Kennedy. His half-dollar has been on the market since 1964.

The Presidential Seal is used for the reverse design (tails). In the eagle’s beak, it displays an olive branch and 13 arrows. A shield stands at the front of the eagle. It is surrounded by a 50-star circle. Symbols with multiple connotations abound in the layout. America’s official national bird is the bald eagle. Arrows are a symbol of conflict, and the olive branch is a symbol of peace. Each of the fifty 50 states is represented by one of the 50 stars.

History of Half Dollars

In 1794, the United States Mint produced the very first half dollar. It was constructed out of silver. On obverse of half dollar, which has been in circulation for more over 150 years, a figure of a lady who represents liberty has been shown in a variety of attitudes. The back of the note featured an eagle.

In 1948, a portrait of Benjamin Franklin was selected to take the place of the statue of Liberty. Franklin, like the other heroes honored on our coins, contributed significantly to the development of the country even though he was not elected to the presidency.

The design of the half dollar was changed by the Mint in 1964 to pay tribute to former President John F. Kennedy, who had passed away the previous year. Since then, his image has been included on the coin’s reverse side. The design of the Presidential Seal has been included on the reverse side, with the exception of 1975 and 1976. During those times, the back of the coin depicted a structure called Independence Hall, which was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was here that many significant national events took place, such as the signing of Declaration of Independence as well as the framing of the Constitution of the United States of America. This one-of-a-kind pattern was created in honor of the 200th birthday of our great nation.

Worth of Half Dollars

In regards to the actual silver weight, also known as ASW, each of the 90 percent silver halves has 0.36169 troy ounce of the pure silver. ASW is an abbreviation that is widely used. That comes out to approximately 11.25 grams of the silver weight.

The 40 percent silver half dollars, which are logically expected to contain less silver quantity than the predecessors, have a total of 0.1479 troy oz of silver each coin, which is approximately equivalent to 4.6 grams of ASW.

Follow these easy procedures to determine how much each individual half dollar is worth:

  • Examine the coin to see when it was minted. If it was made before 1964, then it contains 90 percent silver. 1965 to 1970 indicates that it is composed of 40 percent silver. 
  • Refer to weights shown above for the variants that include 90 percent and 40 percent silver respectively.
  • Multiply its ASW by the price of silver as it is currently traded on the spot market.


Flowing Hair Half Dollars, 1794‑1795

The mint act, 1792, which authorized the first half dollar in the United States, made it one of the country’s early coins. In 1794, the Flowing Hair halves were struck, which marked the beginning of half-dollar history. Liberty’s windswept hair is depicted on the obverse of this coin, which was only in circulation for two years. An eagle with its wings spread stands in a wreath on the reverse. 

Half Dollars with Draped Busts, 1796-1807

The Draped Bust half dollar, which was minted between 1796 and 1807, followed the Flowing Hair half dollar in the annals of half dollars. Liberty’s hair is tied in some kind of a ribbon in this design, which features a novel take on the character. The reverse of the series formerly featured a small eagle within a wreath, dating back to the years 1796-1797. During the years 1798-1800, no halves were issued. The back of the coin had an unique heraldic eagle pattern with 13 stars when it was reintroduced in 1801.

Half Dollars, Capped Bust, 1807-1839

The Draped Bust series was phased out in 1807 in favor of John Reich’s Capped Bust design at the U.S. Mint. A cloth hat is worn by Liberty in this series. The reverse shows a smaller eagle, this time with a shield. 50 Cents / HALF A DOLLAR was once again written on the edge of the coin until 1836. Toward the end of 1836, coin’s edge was reeded to a more simple design. The Capped Bust style lasted until 1839, when it was phased out.

Half Dollars with Liberty Seated, 1839-1891

The Liberty Seated half dollar series was introduced in 1839. With the left hand holding the liberty cap on  the pole, & her right hand sitting on a shield engraved with LIBERTY, Liberty appears to be sitting on a rock. An eagle holding an olive branch plus arrows is depicted on the reverse of the card. The inscription IN GOD WE TRUST originally placed to reverse in 1866 during the height of the Civil War religious fervor and remained there until the end of series in 1891.

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Barber Half Dollars, 1892‑1915

With the Barber coins of 1892-1915, the early half dollar era ends. The Treasury Department started looking for new coin designs during the final year of Liberty Seated half dollar. Thus, in 1892, the Liberty Head design by Charles Barber was introduced on the half dollar, dime, and quarter. A laurel wreath adorns Liberty’s head on the Barber half dollar’s obverse, earning it the nickname “The Barber.” The reverse of the card has a heraldic eagle. Both the obverse and reverse of the coin feature thirteen stars.

Where to sell Half Dollars

Would you be interested in selling Half Dollars? The biggest money can be made from selling your coins to Gold Buyer USA. We are interested in buying coins in whatsoever condition. You may require our assistance in order to sell the Half Dollars for the highest price.

Visit the coin calculator on Gold Buyer USA for prompt assistance.

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