What Makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Rare?

Posted - August 31, 2023
what makes a 1964 kennedy half dollar rare

The Kennedy Half Dollar is one of America’s most popular numismatic circulation coins. Even today, over fifty years after the coin was initially released, it continues to be a favorite among collectors all over the world. The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar in particular is valuable for silver stackers and investors alike. Its combination of impressive designs and high silver fineness makes the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar an exceptional investment opportunity for consumers interested in classic American coinage. 

But what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? This question is our core focus for today’s Hero Bullion guide. By the end of this post, readers should have a clear understanding of why this coin is such an enduring piece of American bullion coinage. As always, we’re here to help collectors become more confident before making their next collectable coin purchase. 

Historical Background

Historical background is always an important consideration in the value and rarity of a silver coin. But this factor is especially essential when it comes to the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare historically? The coin’s authorization from Congress arrived at the United States Mint in 1963, just a month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

Introduction of Kennedy half dollar

The introduction of the Kennedy Half Dollar came in 1963, only a month or so after Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Clearly, the coin was meant to commemorate the life and achievements of Kennedy, who was the first President to be murdered since the death of William McKinley in 1901. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? The coin’s place in American history is a significant reason why so many collectors consider it both rare and valuable. 

Transition to 40% silver

After 1964, Congress ratified its plans to transition .90 silver coins out of circulation. From that point forward, silver dollars no longer contained the 90% silver that they did for many decades of early American history. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? The transition from 90% to 40% silver makes this coin especially rare and valuable to investors. 

Kennedy Half Dollar
Silver Kennedy Half Dollar Obverse

1964 was the last year in which the U.S. Mint distributed circulation coins containing .90 silver. Coincidentally, this was also the first year of the Kennedy Half Dollar. Because of this, the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar is the only coin in the series to feature the original 90% silver fineness. For many collectors, this means two things. First, the coin contains more silver than later editions, which allows collectors to invest directly in the value of silver bullion. Additionally, these coins represent a transitory period in American bullion; it was one of the last circulation coins to feature pure silver of 90 percent purity. 

Mintage figures and variations

There were two different versions of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar minted during that year. Both coin variations feature a high silver purity of 90%, so the main thing that differentiates them is the mint mark each one bears. One coin contains no mint mark and was minted by the Philadelphia Mint, while the other is distributed by the Denver Mint and includes a small ‘D’ mint mark. 

For the Philadelphia version, 277,254,766 coins were minted. Mintage numbers were slightly lower at the smaller subsidiary Denver Mint, which produced 156,205,446 for general circulation. Proofs of the Kennedy Half Dollar were quite a bit rarer, clocking in at a total of 3,950,762 and being produced exclusively by the Philadelphia Mint. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare in proof versions? The low mintage is one explanation for why these special coins are considered so rare. 

Influence of President Kennedy’s assassination

What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare historically? A major justification for this coin’s important place in history is its proximity to the assassination of Kennedy. Clearly, the coin’s name suggests that the Kennedy Half Dollar was minted to commemorate the life of one of America’s most influential Presidents. His assassination shocked the world and forever changed the landscape of our Presidential security protocols. 

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was the first in a longer series of Kennedy Half Dollars. Even today, the coins are still being produced. But the initial coin’s authorization by Congress happened very quickly – around one month – after Kennedy’s assassination, giving it an additional historical significance that’s hard to match with modern coins. 

Cultural impact and public reception

Public interest in Kennedy Half Dollars was significant since the very beginning of their mintage run. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? High investor demand continues to drive the perception that these coins are rare, despite the high mintage numbers that characterized early editions of the series. The public goes wild for Kennedy Half Dollars; they’re still sold in .9999 silver bullion strikes by the U.S. Mint today. 

Key Rarity Factors

Like with any other bullion coin, the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar’s rarity is determined by a number of factors. We’ll consider three below: mint errors and varieties, grade and condition, and specific design characteristics. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? Take a look at the three considerations below to develop a better idea of the elements that influence 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rarities. 

Mint errors and die varieties

What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rarer than other coins? Some of these pieces of bullion history include exceptionally rare mint errors. The presence of a mint error almost always increases the value and rarity of a coin, and 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars follow this rule closely. Common error types include heavily accented hair and double die variants. If you have one of these coins, take steps to become educated about their value. Some 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar errors can be worth thousands of dollars, so it’s important to do your own research. 

High-grade specimens and proofs

Proof coins, especially those in exceptionally fine condition, are worth more than heavily circulated coins. This is true for most bullion coins from throughout American history. We recommend taking a look at coin value guides to get a better idea of how much your Kennedy Half Dollar might be worth. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? These old coins can be extremely valuable if they’re kept in near-perfect condition. And as time goes on, the total global supply of near-mint condition 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars will likely decrease, driving value up even more. 

What Makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Rare?
Kennedy Half Dollar Reverse

Specific design and characteristics

The Kennedy Half Dollar includes an obverse depiction of its namesake. Along with “LIBERTY,” the inscription “In God We Trust,” and the year of minting, these coins feature a detailed artistic depiction of John F. Kennedy’s head and neck. His likeness makes sense, given this coin’s initial release shortly after the assassination of the late President. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? Unique designs pair with a fascinating historical significance to make this particular coin a favorite for many circulation investors. 

On its obverse, a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar shows off another distinctly American symbol: the heraldic eagle of the United States. A banner above its head inscribes our national motto, and it carries both a bundle of arrows and an olive branch. 

Identifying & Authenticating

Identifying and properly authenticating an old circulation coin comes with its own unique challenges and obstacles. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? Because these coins are much older than modern bullion coins, counterfeiting is likely a bigger concern with them than with more contemporary precious metal pieces. 

Coin grading & certification services

It’s always possible to grade and certify your coins at home, but doing so takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and expertise. We generally like to lean on the expert knowledge of professional coin grading services. By paying a small fee, you can receive a written certification that testifies to both the authenticity and the condition of your coin. As we work to answer what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare, it’s essential that investors understand how to evaluate their coins for legitimacy and grade. 

Key features in rare specimens

Rare 1964 Half Dollars will generally contain some sort of unique element. Sometimes, this rare element might be exceptionally pristine condition. As we explained earlier in our guide, Kennedy Half Dollars from 1964 become quite a bit more valuable when they’re in fine condition. Other coins will contain extremely rare and valuable mint errors. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? Counterfeit coins can quickly destroy the value of your investment portfolio, so let’s take a look at counterfeit detection and authentication techniques. 

Counterfeit detection and authentication techniques

Authenticating the silver content of your Kennedy Half Dollar should be relatively easy. If a coin is from 1964 and not a counterfeit, it should contain the standard .90 fineness associated with all coins from this year and variation. If you’re unsure about the authenticity of your 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar, coin grading services can be a helpful tool. What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare, and can they be counterfeit? 

Counterfeiting is a multi-billion dollar industry. And while modern bullion coins typically feature sophisticated technologies to help deter counterfeiters from scamming consumers, old coins don’t offer this level of protection. Therefore, it might be easier for scammers to make a convincing fake 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar than a 2022 Silver Britannia Coin. 

2014-P 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar high relief - PICRYL - Public  Domain Media Search Engine Public Domain Search
Modern Kennedy Half Dollar

Expert opinions and consultation for verification

What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare, according to experts? We always recommend working with the expert advice of experienced bullion dealers and buyers. Coin guides can help you verify the legitimacy of a coin by giving you all the necessary information about your investment, but it sometimes takes the help of a pro to really ensure the legitimacy of your Kennedy Half Dollar. What mak

Value & Market

What makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare and valuable to investors? The answer to this question depends, of course, on the current silver market. The spot price of silver, as well as general market factors like supply and demand, can impact how much a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar is worth on the open market. 

Factors influencing coin value

The base value of a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar comes from its precious metal content. Remember: 1964 was the last year that the U.S. Mint released circulation coins with .90 pure silver bullion. When silver’s spot price increases, the value of a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar is likely to go up as well. This can be a double-edged sword, though, especially if your coin doesn’t come with high numismatic value. 

Investors can always benefit from closely watching the general silver market, especially if their portfolio is filled with high purity silver circulation coins. 

Rarity and demand in the collector’s market

So what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare in the world of silver coins? The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar can be worth quite a bit of money, especially if it’s in exceptionally fine condition. Some coins of MS67 grade or higher can be worth over thousands of dollars. These coins are few and far between, however, and most Kennedy Half Dollars are worth little more than their spot price value in silver bullion. 

40% Silver Kennedy Half $1 Face Value
Kennedy Half Dollar $1 Face Value

Investment potential and long-term appreciation

The investment potential of 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars can be pretty high. While the silver content offered by these coins is lower than most modern bullion pieces, investors go crazy for a rare collectable coin. Kennedy Half Dollars aren’t an exception to this rule. Over time, appreciation in the value of silver bullion can make your 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars even more valuable. 

Coins with high numismatic value might be even more important for a diversified portfolio. The right coin can appreciate in value over time based on both its silver content and its importance to collectors. 

Final Thoughts: What Makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar Rare? 

Let’s finalize our guide by taking a look at the question of the day: what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare? Certain Kennedy Half Dollars from 1964 might contain mint errors or exceptional condition, making them even more rare than basic circulated coins. 

Whatever your investment objectives and preferences are, our dedicated support team is here to help you build your junk silver stack with confidence. If you’re still wondering what makes a 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar rare, our investment experts will help you find the right Kennedy Half Dollar for your collection and objectives. 

About The Author

Michael Roets is a writer and journalist for Hero Bullion. His work explores precious metals news, guides, and commentary.