The Kennedy Half Dollar is one of the more scarce silver coins from the 1960’s. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the U.S congress and the mint quickly created this coin in honor of the 35th U.S. president. The Kennedy half dollar was first minted in 1964, is a fifty-cent coin currently issued by the United States Mint. Intended as a memorial to the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, it was authorized by Congress just over a month after his death.Within hours of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Mint Director Eva Adams called Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts, informing him that serious consideration was being given to depicting Kennedy on one of the larger silver coins: either the silver dollar, half dollar, or quarter dollar. Adams called Roberts again on November 27 and authorized the project, stating that the late president’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy preferred that he be depicted on the half dollar, replacing the previous design of Benjamin Franklin. Mrs. Kennedy’s reasoning was that she did not want to replace George Washington on the quarter. After the Mint produced trial strikes, Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy were invited to view them. Mrs. Kennedy viewed the designs favorably, but suggested that the hair be altered slightly. Frank Gasparro’s reverse design of the Kennedy half dollar was also influenced by the experience he gained from designing the President John. F. Kennedy appreciation medal.
The coin displays a clean side portrait of the late President Kenedy with the word “LIBERTY” over his head and “In God We Trust” near his neck. The reverse side of coin shows the Presidential Coat of Arms which the United States Mint uses on different medals its has minted. Also the words ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are seen at the top and the denomination “Half dollar” is on bottom.
Use of existing works by Mint sculptors Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro allowed dies to be prepared quickly, and striking of the new coins began in January 1964.
The silver coins vanished from circulation upon their release in March 1964 due to collectors, hoarders, and those interested in a memento of the late president. Although the Mint greatly increased production, the denomination was seldom seen in circulation. Continued rises in the price of silver increased the hoarding.In fact, people worldwide hoarded 1964 JFK half dollars.
Further increasing the popularity of 1964 Kennedy half dollars, in 1965 the U.S. Mint removed all silver from dimes and quarters. However, not wanting to disdain a popular president who had been assassinated, the Mint continued to put silver in JFK half dollars, but at a reduced amount.