Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-one years ago today, December 30, 1963, the Kennedy Half-Dollar was authorized by Congress as a memorial to the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who had been assassinated five weeks earlier.
Jacqueline Kennedy, the President's widow, was given the opportunity to select from the quarter, half-dollar and silver dollar. She declined the quarter because she did not want JFK's likeness to replace that of President George Washington.
Mrs. Kennedy. when presented with the designs, only asked for a slight change to the President's hair.
Because the half-dollar in production at the time bearing the likeness of Benjamin Franklin still had four years to run, Congressional approval was necessary to replace it with the Kennedy half-dollar.
Representative Henry Gonzalez of Texas introduced the bill to authorize the coin in early December 1963 and President Lyndon B. Johnson endorsed the proposal on December 10.
Sculptors Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro were able to adapt their original designs of the Kennedy Medal produced by the US MINT for the new coin which bears the profile of JFK on the obverse (designed by GR) and the Seal of the President of the United States on the reverse (designed by FG).
Obverse of the Kennedy Half-Dollar
The Kennedy half-dollar, which began production in January 1964 in Denver and Philadelphia, was made of 90% silver and 10% copper. In 1971, the silver content was completely removed and all future standard issue coins were made of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
The "melt value" of the 1964 Kennedy half-dollar is currently $5.75. A 1964 Kennedy half-dollar rated MS-64 is available today on EBAY for $30. A complete set (1964-2014) is also on sale for $979.45.
The Philadelphia Mint produced 273,304,004 Kennedy half-dollars for the year 1964 while the Denver Mint produced 156,205,446.
Reverse Kennedy Half-Dollar
A 50th Anniversary Kennedy half-dollar with the dates 1964-2014 is now available from the US MINT for $1,165. The coin, limited to 75,000 pieces, is 3/4 ounce pure 24 karat gold and is the first gold half-dollar offered by the mint.