Silver Kennedy Half Dollars were produced by the United States Mint from 1964-1970, however, those coins dated 1965 and later were only composed of 40% silver. The 1964-dated Kennedy’s were struck from a composition of 90% of the precious metal.
Shown on the obverse of each Kennedy Half Dollar is a portrait of former President of the United States John F. Kennedy. The reverse of the coin contains an image of the Presidential Seal. Each 40% silver coin contains 0.1479 ounces of the precious metal (current melt values of the 40% silver Kennedy Half Dollars can be found by using the calculator in the right column of this page).
The change in metal content from 1964 to 1965 was precipitated by a significant increase in the price of silver which helped lead to the Coinage Act of 1965. That Act allowed the Treasury Department (and thus the U.S. Mint) to eliminate silver from the dime and the quarter and allowed the half dollar to only contain 40% silver.
Historical 1965-1970 Kennedy Half Dollar Silver Coin Melt Values
Previous to the change, Kennedy Half Dollars were in great demand. That demand was caused by two major factors. First, President Kennedy had only been assassinated a few years earlier which initially led to their creation. Also, many in the public hoarded them as mementos of his presidency.
Second, silver had been steadily climbing since the introduction of the coin in March of 1964. In fact, silver prices led to melt values which were higher than the coin’s face value.
Demand for the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar became so intense that the Treasury requested and was granted Congressional approval to continue minting 1964-dated strikes well into 1965. The trend continued and production of the new 40% silver Kennedy Half Dollars would only begin on December 30, 1965. For several more months, the Mint continued to strike 1965-dated coins until 1966-dated Kennedy’s were first minted on August 1, 1966.
Following 1970, the U.S. Mint eliminated all silver from the Kennedy Half Dollars and instead struck them from a copper-nickel clad.
Since the introduction, the obverse of the coin has shown a portrait of President John F. Kennedy as designed by Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint Gilroy Roberts. Obverse inscriptions include "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST" and the year.
The reverse contains an image of the Presidential Seal as designed by Frank Gasparro. The seal is surrounded by the inscriptions of "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "HALF DOLLAR."
Collectors will typically find that obtaining the 1964-1970 Kennedy Half Dollars is relatively easy and affordable even in higher grades. Those of lower quality are still valuable for their intrinsic silver coin melt values.