The Kennedy half dollar is a fifty cent coin issued by the U.S. Mint. Intended as a memorial to the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, it was authorized by Congress just over a month after his death. Use of existing works by Mint sculptors Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro allowed dies to be prepared quickly, and striking of the new coins began in January 1964. The coins vanished from circulation upon their release in March 1964 due to collectors, hoarders, and those interested in a memento of the late president. Although the Mint greatly increased production, they still failed to circulate. Starting with 1965-dated pieces, the percentage of fine silver was reduced from 90% to 40% (silver clad), but even this change failed to restore the coin to circulation. In 1971, silver was eliminated entirely. A special design for the reverse of the half dollar was issued for the United States Bicentennial and was struck in 1975 and 1976. Even though ample supplies of half dollars are now available, their circulation is extremely limited. Since 2002, Kennedy half dollars have only been struck to satisfy the demand from collectors, and are available at a premium through the Mint. (Full article...)
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