Silver Half Dollars

First produced for circulation in 1794, silver half dollars continue to fascinate coin collectors. Throughout their history, they have showcased our Nation’s symbol of Liberty—from the Flowing Hair Half Dollar of 1794 to the Bust designs in 1796 and 1807, the Seated Liberty silver half dollar in 1839, the Liberty Head design of 1892, and the Walking Liberty Half Dollar of 1916. Additionally, Benjamin Franklin Half Dollars were minted from 1948-1963.
The modern silver coin, now minted only for collectors, was first struck in 90 percent silver with its current design in 1964 to honor the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. These Kennedy Half Dollars are now produced yearly for U.S. Mint Annual Sets and rolls and bags.
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History Of Half Dollars

The United States began minting silver coins in 1794. During this time, silver half dollars were the only early silver coins struck consistently. The Flowing Hair Half Dollar was among the first United States coins produced by the new nation after passage of the Coinage Act of 1792, which created a national mint in Philadelphia. Minted from 1794-1795, the Flowing Hair Silver Half Dollars showcased Liberty in profile with loose, windblown hair. This representation of Liberty and freedom was an important statement for the newly independent nation.

The Bust Silver Half Dollars followed the Flowing Hair Half Dollar. The Draped Bust Half Dollar was minted from 1796-1807. Its design was based on artist Gilbert Stuart’s sketch of a Philadelphia woman, Ann Willing, wife of then-Senator William Bingham (1795-1801). The Draped Bust Silver Half Dollar based on a design by Gilbert Stuart would also make history as the first coin showcasing an image of Liberty modeled after a living woman. The Capped Bust Silver Half Dollars were minted during 1807, replacing Gilbert Stuart’s design with a new design of Liberty in a Phrygian cap by U.S. Mint Engraver John Reich.

The Seated Liberty Silver Half Dollar (1839-1891) was among the first coins to include the inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The inscription was added following the Coinage Act of February 1873. The Barber Liberty Head Silver Half Dollars, first minted in 1892 under an initiative for new coin designs, saw American coinage to the turn of the century.

Followers of the U.S. Mint’s American Eagle Gold and Silver Coins will be familiar with Adolph A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty, the design that graced silver half dollars from 1916 to 1947. The design features Liberty walking forward with her right hand open and her left hand holding a bouquet of laurel and oak branches. This new design was a beacon of hope, optimism, and inspiration throughout two World Wars, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression.

The Benjamin Franklin Silver Half Dollar coin was realized by engravers John Sinnock and Gilroy Roberts and produced by the U.S. Mint from 1948 to 1963. The Benjamin Franklin coin would be followed by the iconic Kennedy Half Dollar, popular among collectors today.

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