The Kennedy Half Dollar is a long-standing series that dates back to 1964. The coin memorializes the young president after his tragic death in 1963. Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro featured JFK’s portrait on the obverse side with a heraldic eagle as the original emblem on the reverse side. Soon after its release, many took interest, and pieces were sold at a premium.
But which coins in the series are the most valuable based on auction records? Here, we listed the top 20 most valuable Kennedy Half Dollar based on auction records.
The highest sold and most valuable Kennedy Half Dollar is the 1964 50C SMS SP68. The coin has a velvety smooth surface and accentuated bold strikes. In terms of color, you’ll notice the nickel gray is more apparent on the obverse side while the reverse is lighter. But overall, the faint gold hue on the rim makes it an impressive coin worthy of premium value.
This rare piece sold for an astounding $156,000 in 2019.
Another half-dollar that sold for six digits is this 1964 50C SMS SP67. The coin has sharper details and a satiny surface that sets it apart from regular issues.
Aside from this, the piece also has noticeable die markers on both sides. On the obverse is a tiny apostrophe-shaped lump on the bottom edge of the digit 4. Then, on the reverse is a die polishing line between F and A in OF AMERICA.
This magnificent half-dollar sold for $108,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2019.
At this point, there is no question why 1964 is a coveted American numismatic rarity. This piece, for example, is sharply struck from freshly prepared dies, appearing boldly brilliant. Also, the die lines on the surface of both sides give away that it came from special preparation.
With its excellent eye appeal, this coin sold for $99,875 at Legend Rare Coin Auctions in 2021.
Like any high-grade coin, this specimen has a brilliant surface made evident by its satiny texture. In addition, the eye appeal is incomparable, as deemed by the given QA Gold Sticker.
But what makes this unique from the other 1964 half-dollar is the minor mark on the ST of STATES. Yes, it has a single flaw, yet it reached a staggering price of $96,937.50 in 2021.
Right off the bat, you’ll immediately notice the color difference of this coin from other 1964 samples. The obverse side is lighter in color, with a brown speck close to the rim. However, the reverse is more gray, with blushes of gold scattered on the surface.
In 2019, this coin accumulated 72 bids, with the winning bidder placing $77,500.
Here is a 1964 50C SMS SP67+ from the D. Brent Pogue Collection. It has a brilliant surface further enhanced by champagne-gold around the edge and the eagle. The satin to semi-reflective finish also gives it its exceptional eye appeal.
This iridescent coin sold for $60,000 at Stack’s Bowers in 2020.
The 1964 Half Dollar is more accurately called an SMS-Finish than a genuine SMS coin. It is because there is no official set released during this year. These coins only came into light when a coin dealer from New York, Lester Merkin, released a few in Stack’s auction.
This SMS SP67+ is one of the finest known examples, which sold for $48,000 in 2022. It displays a luminous surface with razor-sharp details. A couple of thread-like strike-throughs are also noticeable in the hair.
The accented hair variety displays extra hair above Kennedy’s ear, as opposed to standard dies with less detail. This variety is relatively scarce and can sell for thousands of dollars. For example, this PF69 DCAM with glassy fields and frosty devices sold for $45,600 in 2022.
Breaking the 1964 streak is this 1967 SMS SP69 DCAM. The coin is made of 40% silver and 60% copper, at odds with the original 90% silver. But despite the change in composition, this Superb Gem sample has extraordinary field-to-device contrast. In fact, it is the only MS69 DCAM at NGC with nothing equivalent at PCGS.
This specific specimen sold for $31,200 at Heritage Auctions in 2019.
A while ago, we mentioned what an accented hair variety is. But another way to determine it is by looking at “I” in LIBERTY. Generally, the lower left serif of the letter is weak or broken.
This 1964 50C PF69 DCAM is in near-perfect condition. Plus, it is almost at par with the finest known. Its starkly contrasted surface made it sell for $30,001.20 at Heritage Auctions in 2023.
The 1968-S is the first proof Kennedy half dollar produced in San Francisco since the initial design release in 1964. This coin has a superb silver-white surface and sharp field-to-device contrast. But while the 1968-S has a high mintage, only a few PF70 samples exist, making it worthy of more substantial bids.
Recently, this 1968-S 50C DCAM PF70 sold for $24,000 at Stack’s Bowers.
Unique errors on coins can dramatically increase their value. A classic example is this 1980-P Kennedy half-dollar overstruck on a 1979-P Anthony Dollar. Here, you’ll find the obverse side dominated by the portrait of JFK under the upturned eagle. Then, on the reverse is the likeness of Susan B. Anthony.
The coin has a grade of MS65 and was sold for $22,325 in 2016.
Here’s another 1968-S Kennedy half-dollar piece that sold for a competitive value. This coin is among the finest known samples recorded because of its perfect surface. It is full-struck and has a stark white-on-black contrast.
This conditionally rare coin sold for $21,600 at Heritage Auctions in 2017.
It is rare to see a top-grade 1967 SMS coin, even with a million mintage. But when you stumble upon one, it can definitely fetch a premium.
This 1967 50C SMS SP69, to be exact, displays a brilliant silver finish with extraordinary cameo contrast. It sold for $19,975 at Heritage Auctions in 2016.
The accented hair variety in PF69 grade is not the only one that can sell for a hefty sum. Even those one grade lower, PF68, can still offer a premium. This coin, for instance, has profound jet-black fields and frosted devices. It sold for $17,625 in 2017, as it seldom appears in auctions.
This 1966 sample, although an SMS, is almost indistinguishable from a proof coin. It has a thick frost throughout the devices and a brilliant mirrored field. In addition, this specific piece was the plate coin for Tomaska’s Whitman half-dollar reference.
It sold for $16,450 at Heritage Auctions in 2016.
Among the coins listed, this piece has the most attractive toning on both sides. The Superb Gem coin has a satiny mint luster and full-struck devices. Amber, sea-green, and violet are some colors that form around the emblem, making it earn the star designation.
This 1969-D half-dollar MS67 sold for $15,600 in 2019.
Similar to the previous coin, this 1966 half-dollar also showcases a captivating toning. On the obverse side is an iridescent hue of pink, violet, and amber streaming on the edge. Meanwhile, the reverse has hints of gold and reddish-brown surrounding the gray eagle.
This coin sold for $15,105 during a live auction on eBay in 2020.
Here’s a 1971-D 50C struck on a 40% silver planchet. A standard 1971 half-dollar has 75% copper and 25% nickel. Mint workers may not have noticed the difference in planchet and punched a half-dollar die, arriving with this unique error. This coin has a grade of MS61. It sold for $13,000 on eBay in 2018.
Last but not least is this 1967 50C SMS SP68 DCAM. This coin has an extraordinary degree of cameo contrast that you may mistake for a proof coin. The elements are sharply frosted, while the fields are deeply reflective. Also, the surface is well-preserved, and the eye appeal is remarkable.
With all its attributes, the coin fetched $12,925 at Heritage Auctions in 2015.
It is without a doubt that the 1964-dated coins are the most valuable Kennedy Half Dollar. However, the list also shows that older-dated coins have the upper hand in open auctions. But of course, when looking at coins, you also need to consider the grade and its current demand.
Do you have any of these listed coins, or are you planning to add one to your collection? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Jenson is a professional numismatist, a dedicated coin collector, a graduate of the College of Business at Oregon State, a life member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), and an overall coin nerd. He is the founder of Coin Value List.