Half dollar (United States coin)

Half dollar (United States coin)

Infobox Coin
Country = United States
Denomination = half dollar
Value = 0.5
Unit = U.S. dollar
Mass_troy_oz = 0.365
Mass = 11.340
Diameter_inch = 1.205
Diameter = 30.61
Thickness_inch = 0.085
Thickness = 2.15
Edge = 150 reeds
Composition = 91.67% Cu
8.33% Ni
Years of Minting = 1794–present
Catalog Number = -
Obverse = 2005_Half_Dollar_Obv_Unc_P.png Obverse Design = John F. Kennedy
Obverse Designer = Gilroy Roberts
Obverse Design Date = 1964
Reverse = 2005_Half_Dollar_Rev_Unc_P.png Reverse Design = Presidential Seal
Reverse Designer = Frank Gasparro
Reverse Design Date = 1964

The half dollar of the United States, sometimes known as the fifty-cent piece, has been produced nearly every year since the inception of the United States Mint in 1794. The only U.S. coin that has been minted more consistently is the cent.

Half dollar coins are commonly used in casinos; rolls of half dollars are kept on hand in cardrooms in the United States for games requiring 50-cent antes or bring-in bets, for dealers to pay winning naturals in blackjack, or where the house collects a rake in increments of 50 cents (usually in low-limit seven-card stud and its variants). Many slot machines also took in, and paid out in, 50-cent pieces; however, casinos in recent years have phased in "coinless" slots (for all denominations), taking in paper dollars, and paying winners through vouchers.

The half dollar's circulation, aside from use in some casinos and movie theaters, has declined significantly. The value of silver had risen by 1962-63 to the point that it became worthwhile to melt down U.S. coins for their bullion value. U.S. Silver coins (those of ten cent value and above, which contained 90% silver through 1964) began to disappear from circulation, leading the United States to change to layered composition coins made of a copper core laminated between two cupro-nickel outer faces for the 1965 - present coinage years. The Kennedy half-dollar design, however, continued to be minted in a 40% silver-clad composition from 1965–1970.

Initially the Kennedy halves were hoarded for sentimental reasons and because they were recognized as the only precious metal U.S. coin remaining in circulation. By the time mintage figures could match normal demand and the coin's composition was changed to match the newer dimes and quarters in 1971, both businesses and the public had adapted to a world in which the half dollar did not generally circulate. Other uses had been found for the half-dollar section of the cash drawer. People had gotten used to depending on quarters as the major component of change.

Most coins enter circulation through the change drawers of businesses. Hardly any businesses stock their change drawers with half dollars or dollar coins, and many banks do not stock these coins or hand them out as normal business practice, so the coins do not see much circulation. The fact that virtually no vending machines in the United States accept half dollars further curtails its circulation. However, American Sleight-of-hand magicians that specialize in coin magic prefer the half dollar for its size and weight.Fact|date=August 2008

Early history

* On December 1, 1794 the first half dollars (approximately 5,300 pieces) – were delivered. Another 18,000 were produced in January 1795 but these coins were produced with a die of 1794, because dies were too expensive to throw out because of the date."All About the Half Dollar”, Numismatist Magazine, R.W. Julian, p.38, Volume 119, Number 12, December 2006]

* Due to the high production of half dollars from the 1790s, another 30,000 pieces were struck by the end of 1801. The coin had the Heraldic Eagle, based on the Great Seal of the United States on the reverse.

* One of the great mysteries of half dollars was the 150,000 that were minted in 1804 without one specimen known to exist. The coinage of 1804 was struck with dies from 1803, accounting for the reason.

* In 1838, half dollar dies were sent to a branch mint for the first time. The dies were sent to New Orleans and in 1839, the New Orleans Mint struck nearly 180,000 half dollars.

List of designs

*Silver half dollars
**Flowing Hair 1794–1795 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cflowh.asp ]
**Draped Bust 1796–1807
***Draped Bust, Small Eagle 1796–1797 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50csmeag.asp ]
***Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle 1801–1807 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cheral.asp]
**Capped Bust 1807–1839
***Capped Bust (Large Size), With Motto 1807–1836 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cbust.asp]
***Capped Bust (Small Size), No Motto 1836–1839 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50creedg.asp]
**Seated Liberty 1839–1891
***Seated Liberty, No Motto 1839–1866 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cnomot.asp ]
***Seated Liberty, With Motto 1866–1891 [ http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cmotto.asp ]
**Barber 1892–1915 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cbarbr.asp]
**Walking Liberty 1916–1947 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cwalkr.asp ]
**Franklin 1948–1963 [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50cfrank.asp ]
**Kennedy 1964 (General circulation issue.) [http://coinsite.com/CoinSite-PF/pparticles/50ckenn.asp ]
**Kennedy 1992–Present (Not issued for general circulation; in silver proof sets only.)
*40% silver half dollars
**Kennedy 1965–1969
**Kennedy 1970 (Not issued for general circulation; for collectors only.)
**Kennedy 1976 (Only those issued in collectors sets were produced with 40% silver.)
*Copper-nickel clad half dollars
**Kennedy 1971–1974, 1977–1986, 1988–2001 (General circulation issues.)
**Kennedy 1987, 2002–Present (Not issued for general circulation; for collectors only.)
***Kennedy Bicentennial 1975–1976 (All were dated 1776-1976.)

In addition to these regular issue coins, Half dollars are the most common denomination used for United States Commemorative Coins.


External links

* http://www.acoin.com/regular50c.htm
* http://www.coinfacts.com/half_dollars/kennedy_half_dollars/kennedy_half_dollars.html

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