There are four different styles of Silver Half Dollars that are commonly found amongst junk silver.
The Barber Silver Half Dollar coins are the third variation in the Barber series of coins and were minted from 1892 until 1915.
Walking Liberty Half Dollars were minted from 1916 until 1947. The design is iconic and is one of the most recognizable designs ever produced. The design of the modern day American Silver Eagle Dollar Coins is based on the Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar.
Franklin half dollars were minted from 1948 until 1963. The obverse of the coin features the portrait profile of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. Franklin Half Dollars are widely popular amongst junk silver collectors because they are often available at a very low premium.
Kennedy Silver Half Dollars were minted in two variations. The first, minted in 90% Silver, was introduced in 1964 and was produced for just a single year. The obverse design features a profile tribute to President John F. Kennedy who had been assassinated the previous year. The second variation, minted in 40% Silver, was produced from 1965 until 1970. Both are commonly available as junk silver. Many find the 40% junk silver coins to be less desirable.
Based on the current silver spot price, the melt value of each 90% Silver Half Dollar coins is roughly $6.81 while each 40% Silver Kennedy Half Dollar is worth $2.78.
Barber Silver Half Dollars
Barber silver half dollars are less common to find in junk silver than other half dollar coins. They were produced and circulated for less than 25 years. The youngest Barber Silver Half Dollars are now more than 100 years old, even those are becoming more rare as many have been melted down over time.
Many of the Silver Barber Half Dollar coins carry some numismatic value to collectors. You will likely only find Barber Half Dollars from high mintage years in very poor (cull, slick, holed, etc) condition amongst junk silver.
Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Millions of Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollars were minted from 1916 until 1947. Many stackers of junk silver prefer to buy Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars because of their age, their design and the hope that they may increase in collector value over time. Many online bullion dealers sell Walking Liberty Half Dollars in standard bank rolls that contain $10 Face Value of coins. Each bank roll contains 20 half dollar coins.
Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars coins are sometimes referred to as “Walkers”. This is simply because of the design featuring Lady Liberty amid stride.
In most cases, Walking Liberty Half Dollar coins may have a slightly higher premium over spot price than other silver half dollar coins such as Franklin or Kennedy Half Dollars. This is mostly due to their collectibility and the fact that many buyers will pay slightly more for them.
When buying mixed lots of junk silver coins or half dollars it is common to find a few Walking Liberty Half Dollars mixed in. These will often be in poor condition with worn features, partially or fully missing dates, etc. Generally speaking, when Walking Liberty Halves are sold at the same price as other junk silver they will be in poor, sometimes cull condition.
Franklin Silver Half Dollars
Franklin half dollars were minted from 1948 until 1963. The obverse of the coin features the profile portrait of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.
The Franklin Silver Half Dollar was only minted for 15 years. However, during that time over 465 million Franklin Halves were minted. Over 63 million were minted just in 1963 alone, which makes them quite common and easy to find.
The obverse design of the Franklin Half Dollar coin features a right facing bust portrait of Benjamin Franklin. The front also has inscriptions around the top edge of the coin that reads “LIBERTY”. Along the bottom edge is the inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST”. The minting year date is to the right of the portrait.
The reverse design features the historic Liberty Bell in the center. The to left is the inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. To the right is a standing bald eagle with it’s wings spread wide. Around the top edge is the inscription “United States of America”. The bottom edge is the inscribed with “HALF DOLLAR” denomination.
The mint mark on the Silver Franklin Half Dollar coin is near to top of the bell on reverse side of the coin. The coin was produced at all three major minting facilities, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver.
Kennedy Half Dollars
Silver Kennedy Half Dollar coins were introduced in 1964. The 1964 mintage coincides with being the last year that the US Mint produced 90% Silver coins for circulation.
The silver Kennedy Halves were quickly hoarded by the general public which led to a shortage of the coins in circulation.
Kennedy Half Dollar Silver coins that were minted from 1965 until 1970 only contain 40% silver. However, with the approval of Congress, the US Mint continued to produce 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar coins in 1965 and 1966.
Over 273 million 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar 90% Silver Coins were struck by the Philadelphia Mint between 1964 and 1966. An additional 152 million coins were produced by the Denver mint through 1965. Over 425 million 1964 90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars were produced.
90% Kennedy Half Dollars
Many of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar coins that are sold as junk silver are in good condition as many of them saw very little circulation. They are very common and easy to find. Most bullion dealers, both online and local coin shops will have plenty of available 90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars available at a low price over melt value.
40% Kennedy Half Dollars
1965-1970 Kennedy Half Dollar Coins were minted with a composition that contained only 40% silver. These 40% Silver Half Dollar coins are an affordable way to stack silver.
Over 850 million Kennedy 40% Silver Half Dollar coins were struck from 1965 until 1970. The majority of the coins were struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The San Francisco mint was also utilized for the minting of Proof strikes.