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1968 Half Dollar Value: The Ultimate Collector‘s Guide

As both a coin collector and history buff, the 1968 Kennedy half dollar holds a special place in my collection. Not only is it a beautiful coin with a storied past, but high grade examples can also be quite valuable. 1968 was a turbulent year in American history, marked by triumphs and tragedies that still reverberate today. It‘s only fitting that the coins produced that year have an important legacy of their own.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll examine everything you need to know about 1968 half dollar value, including its historical context, key features, rare varieties, and auction prices. Whether you‘re a seasoned numismatist or just starting to collect coins, this article will give you a deeper appreciation for this significant piece of American currency. Let‘s dive in!

The 1968 Kennedy Half Dollar: An Overview

First, let‘s cover the basics. The 1968 half dollar is part of the Kennedy Half Dollar series which began in 1964 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was designed by Mint Engraver Gilroy Roberts and features a striking portrait of JFK on the obverse, along with the inscriptions "LIBERTY" and "IN GOD WE TRUST." The reverse, designed by Frank Gasparro, depicts the presidential coat of arms with an eagle clutching an olive branch and arrow, symbolizing America‘s desire for peace but readiness for war.

In terms of specifications, the 1968 Kennedy half dollar measures 30.61mm in diameter and contains 60% copper and 40% silver, with a total weight of 11.5 grams. This represents a change from earlier years (1964-1970) which contained 90% silver. The reason for this shift was rising silver prices which made it too expensive for the U.S. Mint to continue using the same composition. As a result, 1968 marked the first year of reduced silver content for circulating half dollars.

Mintage figures for the 1968 half dollar totalled over 220 million, with the vast majority produced at the Denver Mint and bearing the "D" mintmark. A much smaller number of 1968 proof coins (3.04 million) were minted at the San Francisco facility for collectors. These S-mint proofs tend to be more valuable due to their lower mintages and pristine surfaces. Later on, we‘ll discuss how to tell the different types of 1968 halves apart.

1968: A Year of Triumph and Turmoil

To fully grasp the 1968 half dollar‘s significance, it‘s important to understand the historical context in which it was minted. 1968 was a pivotal year marked by both tragic losses and remarkable achievements:

  • The Vietnam War reached a turning point with the Tet Offensive, sowing further division on the homefront
  • Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically assassinated in Memphis, sparking nationwide riots
  • Senator Robert F. Kennedy, brother of JFK, was also assassinated while campaigning for president
  • NASA launched the first manned flights of the Apollo program, laying the groundwork for a moon landing
  • The modern civil rights movement notched key victories with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968

These events sent shockwaves across the nation and around the world, making 1968 a year that would long be studied and remembered. For coin collectors, 1968 half dollars represent an enduring connection to this chapter in American history. Holding one of these coins is like holding a small piece of the 1960s in the palm of your hand.

Grading & Value: What‘s Your 1968 Half Dollar Worth?

As with most collectible coins, the value of a 1968 half dollar depends heavily on its condition and grade. Coins are graded on a 70-point scale developed by the leading coin grading services, PCGS and NGC. In general, higher grade coins are more valuable due to their rarity and superior preservation.

Here‘s a simplified grading scale for circulated coins:

  • Poor (P-1): Heavily worn, barely identifiable
  • Fair (FR-2): Heavily worn but major details visible
  • About Good (AG-3): Worn rims, most lettering visible
  • Good (G-4 to G-6): Moderate to heavy even wear, peripheral lettering visible
  • Very Good (VG-8 to VG-10): Light to moderate even wear, all major details clear
  • Fine (F-12 to F-15): Light even wear, all details sharp
  • Very Fine (VF-20 to VF-35): Minimal wear, some mint luster may remain
  • Extremely Fine (EF-40 to EF-45): Slight wear on high points, most luster remains
  • About Uncirculated (AU-50 to AU-58): Traces of wear, nearly full luster

Uncirculated grades (MS-60 through MS-70) apply to coins that never entered circulation and thus have no wear. Many factors influence their grade, including luster, contact marks, hairlines, and overall eye appeal. Proof coins follow a similar numeric scale but with PR or PF instead of MS.

So what are 1968 half dollars worth today? Here‘s a price chart with recent auction data:

1968 half dollar value chart

As you can see, circulated examples are worth the least, with heavily worn coins selling for under $10. Uncirculated coins see a big jump in price, ranging from $20-$50 in MS-60 to MS-64, $100-$200 in MS-65, and over $1,000 in grades above MS-67. The real money, though, is in superb proof coins, with PR-69 examples routinely selling for over $10,000! In fact, the auction record for a 1968 half dollar is a whopping $21,600 for a rare PR-70 Deep Cameo.

Key Varieties and Errors

In addition to high grade regular issues, coin collectors also prize rare varieties and error coins. A "variety" refers to a minor difference in the dies used to strike the coin, while an "error" is a minting mistake. Both can significantly increase a coin‘s value. Here are some of the most notable 1968 half dollar varieties and errors:

  • Inverted Mintmark: Some 1968-D half dollars show the "D" rotated 180 degrees due to a die error. These are quite valuable in high grades.

  • Double Die Obverse: A tiny number of coins were struck with a doubled die, creating a slight doubling effect in the lettering and date. Look for this with a loupe!

  • Off-Center Strike: If a coin isn‘t properly aligned between the dies, it can receive an off-center strike. The most valuable pieces are struck 50% or more off-center.

  • Clipped Planchet: Sometimes the metal blanks used to strike coins are clipped or punctured, leading to an incomplete shape. The most valuable have less than half remaining.

While these errors are rare, it‘s worth checking your 1968 half dollars just in case – you could be holding a small fortune! Even coins with minor striking defects can bring a premium.

Tips for Collecting & Investing

Whether you‘re collecting for fun or profit, here are some expert tips for getting the most out of your 1968 half dollars:

  1. Focus on eye appeal. Coins with attractive, original surfaces will always be worth more than average for the grade. Avoid cleaned, damaged, or heavily marked coins.

  2. Consider high grade proofs. With enough of a budget, superb PR-68 and up coins offer the best ROI. Look for deep cameo contrast and no imperfections.

  3. Cherrypick circulated coins. You can sometimes find a VF or XF example in a bag of culls. Bring a loupe to coin shows and shops.

  4. Send your best coins to PCGS or NGC. Holding your coins can cause damage over time. Professional grading will preserve them and often increase value.

  5. Diversify your collection. In addition to top grade gems, include circulated and lower mint state examples to appreciate the full range of 1968 halves.

  6. Be patient. Truly rare coins may hit the market only once a decade. Save your money for the right coin rather than settling for less.

  7. Get educated. Read numismatic books and price guides to learn how to grade accurately. Knowledge is power in this hobby!

With these tips in mind, you‘ll be well on your way to building a top notch collection of 1968 half dollars. Happy hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a 1968 half dollar silver?
A: Yes, 1968 half dollars contain 40% silver and 60% copper. This equates to 0.1479 ounces of pure silver in each coin.

Q: Were any 1968 half dollars minted in Philadelphia?
A: No, all regular strike 1968 half dollars were minted in Denver. Proof coins were made in San Francisco.

Q: Why is it called a Kennedy half dollar?
A: The coin features a portrait of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. It was first issued in 1964 to honor his memory.

Q: How much is a 1968 proof half dollar worth?
A: It depends on the grade. PR-65 examples routinely sell for $10-20, while superb PR-69 and PR-70 coins can fetch north of $10,000.

The Bottom Line

The 1968 Kennedy half dollar may not be the rarest coin in the series, but it offers collectors a tangible link to a pivotal year in American history. With silver in its veins and a stirring portrait of JFK, it remains both a store of value and an object of enduring fascination.

Whether you‘re drawn to the coin‘s aesthetics, its place in the larger Kennedy series, or the chance of finding a valuable error, collecting 1968 half dollars is a rewarding pursuit. By understanding how to grade them accurately, staying patient in your search, and appreciating each coin‘s unique story, you‘ll gain a newfound respect for this wonderful piece of American numismatics.

Here‘s to happy collecting! May your 1968 half dollars be forever brilliant.