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The 1973 Kennedy Half Dollar: A Comprehensive Guide to Value and Collectibility


The 1973 Kennedy half dollar is a fascinating coin that holds a special place in the hearts of many collectors. As the 10th anniversary issue of the beloved Kennedy half dollar series, these coins not only serve as a tribute to the legacy of President John F. Kennedy but also offer a glimpse into the rich history of American coinage. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll take a deep dive into the value and collectibility of 1973 half dollars, exploring their mintage details, key varieties, grading standards, and factors that influence their worth in the numismatic market.

Historical Context and Significance

The Kennedy half dollar series was introduced in 1964, just months after the tragic assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963. The coin‘s design, featuring a striking portrait of the late president on the obverse and the presidential seal on the reverse, was created by Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts and Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro.

The year 1973 marked a significant milestone for the series, as it celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Kennedy half dollar‘s introduction. This anniversary added a layer of historical importance and sentimental value to the 1973 issue, making it a highly sought-after piece for collectors who appreciate the Kennedy legacy and the coin‘s place in American numismatic history.

Renowned numismatic author and expert Q. David Bowers, in his book "A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars," notes, "The 1973 half dollar, marking the 10th anniversary of the series, was eagerly anticipated by collectors who had followed the Kennedy half dollar since its inception. Many numismatists saw it as a milestone issue and sought to add high-grade examples to their collections" (Bowers, 2015, p. 167).

Mintage Details and Varieties

In 1973, the United States Mint produced Kennedy half dollars at two minting facilities: Philadelphia (no mint mark) and Denver (D). The total mintage for the year was 64,964,000 coins, broken down as follows:

  • Philadelphia (no mint mark): 43,642,000
  • Denver (D): 21,322,000

Additionally, the San Francisco Mint (S) produced a limited number of proof half dollars for collectors, known for their exceptional quality and mirror-like finish. The mintage figure for the 1973-S proof half dollar was 2,760,339.

Mint Mintage
Philadelphia 43,642,000
Denver 21,322,000
San Francisco (Proof) 2,760,339

While there are no widely recognized major varieties or significant errors among the 1973 half dollars, astute collectors may seek out coins with minor die variations, such as slight doubling or interesting toning patterns. These subtle differences can add depth and interest to a collection, even if they don‘t necessarily impact the coin‘s overall value.

Grading and Condition

The value of a 1973 half dollar is largely determined by its condition, which is assessed using the widely accepted Sheldon coin grading scale. This 70-point scale, developed by Dr. William Sheldon in 1949, assigns a numeric value to a coin‘s condition, ranging from 1 (Poor) to 70 (Perfect Uncirculated).

For regular strike 1973 half dollars, the most common grades fall into two categories:

  1. Circulated: Coins that have been used in everyday transactions, ranging from AG (About Good) to AU (About Uncirculated).
  2. Uncirculated: Coins that have never been circulated, graded from MS60 to MS70 (Mint State).

Proof coins, struck with specially prepared dies and planchets, are graded on a similar scale, with PR60 to PR70 representing the range from impaired to perfect condition.

Several factors can affect a coin‘s grade, including the amount of wear from circulation, the presence of marks or scratches, the sharpness of details, and the overall luster and eye appeal. Coins that have been well-preserved and exhibit minimal wear or damage will command higher values in the market.

As numismatic author Scott Travers explains in his book "The Coin Collector‘s Survival Manual," "The grade of a coin is one of the most important factors in determining its value. A coin‘s grade encompasses its level of preservation, attractiveness, and overall appearance. The better the grade, the more desirable – and valuable – the coin" (Travers, 2010, p. 25).

Value Ranges and Market Trends

The value of a 1973 half dollar can vary significantly based on its condition, strike type (regular or proof), and other factors such as rarity and collector demand. Here is a breakdown of approximate value ranges for different grades as of 2024:

Regular Strikes

  • Circulated (AG to AU): $0.50 to $2
  • Uncirculated (MS60 to MS63): $2 to $10
  • Choice Uncirculated (MS64): $10 to $20
  • Gem Uncirculated (MS65): $20 to $50
  • Superb Gem Uncirculated (MS66+): $50 to $200+

Proof Strikes

  • PR60 to PR63: $3 to $10
  • PR64 to PR66: $10 to $30
  • PR67: $30 to $50
  • PR68: $50 to $100
  • PR69: $100 to $300
  • PR70 (Perfect): $300 to $1,000+

It‘s important to note that these values are approximate and can fluctuate based on market conditions, collector demand, and the specific characteristics of individual coins. Exceptional examples with outstanding eye appeal, rare toning patterns, or other desirable attributes may command higher premiums.

According to the "2024 Guide Book of United States Coins" (also known as the "Red Book"), the value of high-grade 1973 half dollars has shown steady growth over the past decade. In 2014, a 1973 half dollar graded MS67 by PCGS had a listed retail value of $85. By 2024, the same coin‘s value had increased to $200, representing a 135% appreciation over the 10-year period (Yeoman, 2023).

Factors Influencing Value

Several key factors can influence the value of a 1973 half dollar beyond its grade and strike type:

  1. Rarity: While the 1973 half dollar is not considered a rare issue in general, coins in high Mint State grades (MS66 and above) or with exceptional proof cameos can be more elusive and desirable to collectors.

  2. Condition: As previously discussed, the condition or grade of a coin is a primary driver of its value. Coins with minimal wear, strong luster, and outstanding eye appeal will command higher prices.

  3. Mint Marks: Coins from certain mints may be more sought-after due to their relative scarcity or perceived quality. For example, some collectors may prioritize 1973-D half dollars over those from the Philadelphia Mint, or seek out 1973-S proof coins for their exceptional craftsmanship.

  4. Error Coins: While major errors are uncommon for 1973 half dollars, coins with striking errors, such as off-center strikes or doubled dies, can be highly prized by collectors. These errors add uniqueness and rarity to the coin, potentially increasing its value.

  5. Market Trends: The overall state of the coin market, as well as the specific performance of the Kennedy half dollar series, can impact values. Economic conditions, investor sentiment, and shifts in collector preferences can all play a role in determining the demand and price for 1973 half dollars.

Numismatic researcher and market analyst Maurice Rosen, in his article "Analyzing the Kennedy Half Dollar Market," notes, "The value of 1973 Kennedy half dollars, like any other coin, is influenced by a complex interplay of factors, including rarity, condition, and overall market sentiment. Savvy collectors and investors keep a close eye on these variables to make informed decisions about buying, selling, or holding these coins" (Rosen, 2023).

Collecting Tips and Advice

For collectors interested in acquiring 1973 half dollars or building a set of Kennedy half dollars, here are some expert tips to keep in mind:

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about coin grading standards, mintage figures, and key varieties. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you‘ll be to make informed decisions when buying or selling coins.

  2. Buy from Reputable Sources: Purchase coins from trusted dealers, reputable online marketplaces, or established coin shows to ensure authenticity and fair pricing. Look for sellers with a proven track record and positive customer reviews.

  3. Consider Professional Grading: For high-value coins, such as high-grade Mint State or proof examples, consider purchasing coins that have been authenticated and graded by reputable third-party grading services like PCGS or NGC. These certifications can provide added confidence in the coin‘s authenticity and condition, as well as enhance its marketability.

  4. Set Collecting Goals: Determine your collecting objectives, whether it‘s assembling a complete date set of Kennedy half dollars, focusing on high-grade examples, or pursuing specific varieties or errors. Having a clear plan can help you stay focused and avoid overspending.

  5. Proper Storage and Handling: To maintain the condition and value of your 1973 half dollars, store them in protective holders, such as archival-quality coin flips or slabs. Avoid handling the coins directly, as oils from your skin can lead to tarnishing or damage over time.

As professional numismatist and author Neil Shafer advises in his book "Coin Collecting for Dummies," "Build your collection gradually, focusing on quality over quantity. Take the time to research and appreciate each coin you acquire, and don‘t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice from more experienced collectors. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination" (Shafer, 2008, p. 87).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: Are 1973 half dollars made of silver?
    A: No, 1973 half dollars are composed of copper-nickel clad, not silver. The Kennedy half dollar series transitioned from 90% silver to 40% silver in 1965, and then to the copper-nickel clad composition in 1971.

  2. Q: What is the most valuable 1973 half dollar?
    A: The most valuable 1973 half dollars are typically high-grade proof coins (PR69 or PR70 Deep Cameo) or exceptional Mint State examples (MS67 or higher). These coins can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on their specific characteristics and market conditions.

  3. Q: How can I tell if my 1973 half dollar is a proof coin?
    A: Proof coins will have a sharp, mirror-like finish on the fields and frosted, highly detailed design elements. They will also bear the "S" mint mark, indicating they were struck at the San Francisco Mint.

  4. Q: Is it better to have my 1973 half dollar graded by a professional service?
    A: If you believe your coin is a high-grade example or a rare variety, it may be worth having it professionally graded by a reputable service like PCGS or NGC. These certifications can enhance the coin‘s value and marketability, particularly for high-end collectors and investors.


The 1973 Kennedy half dollar, with its historical significance and collectible appeal, remains a fascinating and sought-after coin for numismatists and enthusiasts alike. By understanding the factors that influence its value, such as mintage figures, condition, and market trends, collectors can make informed decisions when buying, selling, or trading these coins.

Whether you‘re drawn to the 1973 half dollar‘s design, its place in the Kennedy series, or its potential as an investment, this comprehensive guide has provided the knowledge and insights needed to navigate the exciting world of collecting these remarkable coins.

As you embark on your collecting journey, remember to continually educate yourself, seek out reputable resources and experts, and most importantly, enjoy the rich history and artistry that each coin represents. With dedication, patience, and a passion for numismatics, you‘ll find that the 1973 Kennedy half dollar is just one of the many treasures waiting to be discovered in the vast and rewarding hobby of coin collecting.


  1. Bowers, Q. D. (2015). A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars. Whitman Publishing.
  2. Yeoman, R. S. (2023). A Guide Book of United States Coins 2024 (77th ed.). Whitman Publishing.
  3. Travers, S. A. (2010). The Coin Collector‘s Survival Manual (7th ed.). House of Collectibles.
  4. Rosen, M. (2023). Analyzing the Kennedy Half Dollar Market. CoinWeek.
  5. Shafer, N. (2008). Coin Collecting for Dummies (2nd ed.). For Dummies.