First coined in 1794, the half dollar or fifty-cent piece has undergone perhaps the most drastic change in status of any U.S. coin. Through eight major design changes over the years, the half dollar has gone from being one of the principal workhorse coins of U.S. commerce, to becoming a curiosity that is seldom, if ever, seen in general circulation.
Up until the early 1960’s, half dollars were a mainstay of pocket change. The introduction of the Kennedy half dollar in 1964, and the subsequent removal of silver from the circulating U.S. coinage effectively forced half dollars out of circulation. The 1964-dated Kennedys were pulled from circulation as mementoes of the popular fallen President, and the 40% silver clad versions produced from 1965 to 1970 were hoarded as the last remaining U.S. circulation coins with any silver content. As a result, by the early 1970’s, half dollars were more of a novelty in change than a mainstay.
But it wasn’t always so. For most of the nineteenth century, half dollar production far-exceeded the sporadic coining of silver dollars, in both quantity and year-to-year consistency. Likewise, in the years before 1830, production of twenty-five cent pieces was sparse and sporadic compared to the half dollar. “Halves” were produced in large quantities, circulated heavily, and were held by banks as a store of value.
All vintage half dollar types remain popular with coin collectors. The flowing hair (1794 – 95), draped bust (1796 – 1807), capped bust (1807 – 1839), Liberty seated (1839 – 1891), Barber (1892 – 1915), walking Liberty (1916 – 1947), Franklin (1948 – 1963) and Kennedy (1964 – present) designs all enjoy devoted followings. The capped bust, Liberty seated and walking Liberty types, in particular, are among the most popular vintage U.S. coins. We are pleased to offer a wide selection of half dollars that would enhance many different types of collection.