10 Most Valuable Half Dollar Coins

Jenson Cambell

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Half Dollar

U.S. half dollars have sold some valuable examples, including one in 2014 that sold for an unbelievable $1,292,500. But is it the most valuable Half Dollar to be sold at auction? Join us as we list the 10 most valuable half dollar coins. We’ll reveal to you how much they sold for and why they sold for so much money.

And yes, our $1,292,500 mystery coin also features in the top 5. So, read on to find out where it ranks. But before we rush into this list, why don’t we familiarize ourselves with the half dollar denomination, its history, and the coin series it carries?

Coin Name Value
1794-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar $1,800,000
1796-P Draped Bust Half Dollar, O-102, 16 Stars $1,800,000
1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar, O-101, 15 Stars $1,560,000
1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar $783,750
1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar $734,375
1794-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar $705,000
1838-O Proof Half Dollar $632,500
1838-O Proof Half Dollar $632,500
1795-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar $552,000
1795-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar, Small Head $528,000

What is the Half Dollar Coin

Valuable Half Dollar Coins

The Half Dollar is the 50-cent denomination of U.S. Coinage. Informally, they have been referred to as “The Halves” or even 50-cent pieces. If you reach into your pocket and pull out a half dollar, you will have in your hand a Kennedy Half Dollar. We call them Kennedy Half Dollars because they bear the image of one of America’s most beloved presidents, John F. Kennedy.

As of current, Kennedy Half Dollars are the largest and heaviest denomination in U.S. coinage. The Kennedy Half Dollar is not the only coin series the denomination has ever had. But before I reveal them, you must understand the history of this denomination.

History of the Half Dollar Coin

While the U.S. Mint started striking coins in 1792, the first Half Dollar was struck in late 1794. At first, the U.S. Mint played it safe, striking only 5,300 examples in December of that year. They struck 18,000 more the next month, maintaining the 1794 date.

These early half Dollars came to be known as the Flowing Hair Half Dollars because they feature an effigy of Ms. Liberty with flowing hair. About 89% of their metallic makeup came from silver, with copper added to strengthen the coin. Today, Flowing Liberty Half Dollars are some of the most valuable half dollar coins due to their historical significance. They were produced with the 1794 and 1795 dates.

After the Flowing Hair Half Dollars, the U.S. Mint refreshed its designs a couple of times before we ended up with that Kennedy Half Dollar sitting in the palm of your hands. Perhaps a table can tell this story better than my words will ever do.

Coin Series Dates of Issue
Flowing Hair Half Dollars 1794 and 1795
Draped Bust Half Dollars 1796 and 1797

1801 – 1803

1804 – 1807

Capped Bust Half Dollars 1807 – 1815

1817 – 1838

Seated Liberty Half Dollars 1839 – 1891
Barber Half Dollars 1892 – 1915
Walking Liberty Half Dollars 1916 – 1921

1923

1927 – 1929

1933 – 1947

Franklin Half Dollars 1948 – 1963
Kennedy Half Dollars 1964 – 1974

1976 – present

10 Most Valuable Half Dollar Coins

Now that we’re all caught up, we can begin to list down the 10 most valuable half dollar coins, starting with some of those early half dollars from the late 18th century.

1. 1794-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar: Sold for $1,800,000

1794-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar Sold for $1,800,000

  • U.S. Mint Branch: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 23,464
  • Mint Mark: None

When it comes to half dollars, none are rarer than the Flowing Hair Liberty Half Dollars. And even within this coin series, no date is more desired than 1794. Coin collectors flock to this date because of its historical significance. These were the first half dollars ever to be minted by the U.S. Mint.

This specimen is particularly special because it is graded MS64+ by PCGS, making it the single finest coin (of its kind) the grading service has ever encountered. In January 2023, the half dollar sold for a record-shattering $1.8 million.

2. 1796-P Draped Bust Half Dollar, O-102, 16 Stars: Sold for 1,800,000

1796-P Draped Bust Half Dollar, O-102, 16 Stars Sold for 1,800,000

  • U.S. Mint Branch: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 934
  • Mint Mark: None

Tied with our previous entrant in position one is another equally remarkable specimen. This one comes from the Draped Bust series of half dollars. For the 1796 date, there are only two die mariages: the Overton 101 (15 stars) and the Overton 102 (16 stars).

This example belongs to the more scarce Overton 102 variety and shows 16 stars. And in MS66, it is widely considered the finest example of this type. It is beautifully toned with blue, amber, yellow gold, and violet accents, with a few speckles of white silver showing. Like our previous entrant, this coin sold in January 2023 for $1.8 million.

3. 1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar, O-101, 15 Stars: Sold for $1,560,000

1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar, O-101, 15 Stars Sold for $1,560,000

  • U.S. Mint Branch: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 2,984
  • Mint Mark: None

The 1797 Draped Bust is the second issue of the Draped Bust Half Dollars, and as a consequence, they didn’t receive a lot of attention. In mint state, 1796 Half Dollars outnumber 1797 Half Dollars by 2:1, making this coin even more desirable to collectors. This gem is graded MS65+ by PCGS, with only one other example graded finer.

The half dollar itself is sharply struck and shows little signs of wear. While it’s heavily patinated with shades of brown and amber, it shines in certain angles.

This is, in fact, our mystery coin, and it sold in 2014 for $1,292,500. It showed up again on Heritage Auctions in January 2023 and sold for $1,560.

4. 1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar: Sold for $783,750

1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar Sold for $783,750

  • U.S. Mint Branch: New Orleans
  • Mintage: 20
  • Mint Mark: O

The 1838-O Proof Half Dollar was the first proof coin the New Orleans Branch ever struck in any denomination. Out of the 20 coins that were struck, fewer than ten survived, and a smaller number exists in mint condition. This particular specimen was graded PF64 by NGC, a grade NGC hasn’t granted to any other coin.

5. 1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar: Sold for 734,375

1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar Sold for 734,375

  • U.S. Mint Branch: New Orleans
  • Mintage: 20
  • Mint Mark: O

Tied in the same position as our previous entrant is yet another 1838-O Proof Half Dollar. This one sold a little over a year early and was graded PR64BM by PCGS. It’s an impressive specimen, this coin, and shows some rainbow toning on its peripheral areas. Most visible are its violet and red accents.

6. 1794-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar: Sold for $705,000

1794-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar Sold for $705,000

  • U.S. Mint Branch: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 23,464
  • Mint Mark: None

Our next coin may not be the finest half dollar on this list, but it’s still good enough to capture position six in this list. 1794 Half Dollars are highly sought after because of their historical significance.

As the first half dollars ever, any coin collector will kill for these, regardless of their condition. And because they are elusive in every grade, this one managed to sell for $705,000 in the VF25 state.

7. 1838-O Proof Half Dollar: Sold for $632,500

1838-O Proof Half Dollar Sold for $632,500

  • U.S. Mint Branch: New Orleans
  • Mintage: 20
  • Mint Mark: O

Here’s another 1838-O Proof Half Dollar from the New Orleans Mint. This one is also graded PR64BM, just one of three examples to be granted this grade by PCGS.

All its cameo contrast may be gone, but this coin still looks amazing. It’s sharply struck with hardly any wear, and its surface is taken over by a dull gray patina. It may have sold in 2005 for $632,500, but we believe it’s worth $800,000 today.

8. 1838-O Proof Half Dollar: Sold for $632,500

1838-O Proof Half Dollar

  • U.S. Mint Branch: New Orleans
  • Mintage: 20
  • Mint Mark: O

Tied with our previous entrant is yet another 1838-O Proof Half Dollar. These coins are sought-after for their historical significance. Remember, these were the first proof coins that the New Orleans Mint ever made.

This one still retains its silver icy whiteness. However, in PR63BM, all its cameo contrast has faded. It was auctioned off on Valentine’s Day, 2008.

9. 1795-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar: Sold for $552,000

1795-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar Sold for $552,000

  • U.S. Mint Branch: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 299,680
  • Mint Mark: None

Our next coin is an outstanding 1795-P Half Dollar that’s graded MS65+ by PCGS with a CAC endorsement. At this grade, it is the highest certified gem of its variety. The coin’s obverse was struck by an Overton 117 die, which shows obvious clash marks above Liberty’s head as well as under her chin.

10. 1795-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar, Small Head: Sold for $528,000

  • U.S. Mint Branch: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 299,680
  • Mint Mark: None

Finally, we end with another gorgeous 1795-P Flowing Hair Half Dollar. This one’s graded MS63 by PCGS. What makes this coin particularly special is the fact that it belongs to a smaller family of 1795-P Half Dollars with smaller Liberty heads. You can identify these coins by the visible truncation under Liberty’s bust.

Final Thoughts

From the ten half dollars listed above, what is clear is that historical significance adds value to half dollar coins. 1794 and 1795 Half Dollars are very valuable because they were the first half dollars to be released by the U.S. Mint.

The 1838-O Proof Half Dollars command six-figure prices because they were the first proofs (of any denomination) to be struck in the New Orleans Mint. But rarity also helps, as all the coins on this list come from scarce varieties.

Most Valuable Half Dollar Coins chart

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