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[1964-Date] Kennedy Half Dollars

As a young man, I was on a submarine off the coast of Cuba the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I feel a sense of loss to this day and I’m sure that I am not alone. Although the law at the time was that coin design could not be changed until a coin had circulated for at least 25 years, Congress put partisan bickering aside and authorized the issuance of a Half Dollar design honoring the slain President in record time by passing the Act of December 30, 1963, which made the Kennedy half dollar a reality. Gilroy Roberts, the Chief Engraver at the time immediately began work on designing the obverse, while Frank Gasparro started working feverishly on the design of the reverse. Production of the coins began in January at the Denver Mint and at the Philadelphia Mint the week after. A total of 429,509,450 pieces of the only Kennedy Half Dollar struck from an alloy of .900 silver and .100 copper intended for circulation were issued, although most of them disappeared from circulation as fast as they were being released. In 1965, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1965 which created clad coinage. However, there was a compromise on the composition of the Half Dollar, and it continued to be struck from an alloy of .400 silver and .600 copper from 1965 until 1970. After 1970, all Kennedy Half Dollars struck for circulation were made from two layers of .750 copper and .250 nickel bonded to an inner core of pure copper. Bicentennial Half Dollars were struck in 1975 and 1976 to mark the 200th Anniversary of United States’ independence. Seth Huntington designed the reverse, with a depiction of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and these coins were struck in both a copper-nickel clad and silver clad version. Although the Kennedy half Dollar has virtually disappeared from circulation, it is still a prized collectible and can be readily obtained at banks around the country.

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