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50 cent coins from 1971

Here’s what you need to know about the 1971 Kenedy 50-cent coins. Are they really as valuable as some people think?

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Moneda de 50 centavos de dólar de 1971

Some time ago I wrote a whole article about valuable 50 cent coins. It is a general text where you can read about issues such as the designs, the periods, the exorbitant prices that collectors pay for some specimens.

This time I am going to tell you about a specific piece:  The 1971 50 cent coin  .

Moneda 50 centavos de dólar 1971
Coin 50 cents 1971

This is a very striking coin about which there are many myths. In fact, some people believe that if they find one they could sell it for many thousands of dollars and make a small fortune. If you want to check how true, or false, this idea is stay until the end of the article.

1971 Half Dollar Kenedy Coin

The 50-cent  “Kenedy”  dollar coin was introduced in 1964, to honor the recently assassinated president on November 22, 1963. The Kenedy Half Dollar replaced the Franklin bust coin, in circulation since 1948.

I will write more about the 1964 50 cent coin at a later date. It is worth mentioning that in addition to the design, the composition of the coin also changed that year, with the amount of silver in each piece being greatly reduced.

The 1971 half dollar coin has the particularity of being the first issue in nickel and copper. Specifically with 25% nickel and 75% copper. The change was made possible by a law signed by Richard M. Nixon on the night of December 31, 1970.

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon

This was an important change, since in coins of earlier dates we can find silver, to a greater or lesser extent. However, NOT on the 1971 50-cent coins.

Even so, half dollar pieces barely circulated in the United States. The reason, many people treasured these pieces as heirlooms, partly because of the representation of the late president whom they held in high esteem. Thus, the majority of 50 Half Dollar pieces rested in the drawers of Americans without fulfilling their role as currency.

Special features of the 1971 Half Dollar

The 1971 Half Dollar coin has several peculiarities, in addition to the one I mentioned a little earlier: it is the first of its kind to be minted in copper-nickel.

The coin was designed by two people, each taking on one side. The obverse was designed by Gilroy Roberts, while the reverse we owe to Frank Gasparro.

Obverse of the 1971 50-cent coin.

Gilroy Roberts was responsible for the design of President Kenedy’s inaugural medal. In 1964 when it was his turn to design the President’s allegorical half dollar, he would build on his earlier creation.

Anverso 50 centavos de dólar 1971
Obverse 50 cents 1971

The central motif is a coin is the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, assassinated on November 22, 1963. The impact of this loss was so great that Congress and the Mint approved the design change, even though the Half Franklin Dollar was supposed to last longer.

Above and near the edge is the inscription LIBERTY. Kennedy’s hair covers the bottom of the letters “B”, “E” and “R”. In contrast, below we find the date (1971) while the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST is inscribed in a straight line above the year.

The initials of Gilroy Roberts are located above the word “WE” at the lower right of the coin.

1971 Kenedy Half Dollar Reverse

We owe the reverse design to Frank Gasparro, future replacement for Gilroy Roberts as chief engraver of the United States mint. We can see a heraldic eagle on the presidential coat of arms of the United States President’s Seal, which in turn is based on the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States.

Reverso 50 centavos de dolar 1971
Reverse 50 cents 1971

The eagle has wings and legs extended in the four directions. In one talon it carries a bundle of arrows symbolizing war, while in the other it holds an olive branch, symbolizing peace.

CURIOUS FACT: On U.S. coins the eagle may face one way or the other, depending on the national situation at the time the coin is minted. In this particular case, the eagle faces the olive side (peace) even though it was at war with Vietnam.

Frank Gasparro’s initials (“FG”) are found below the bird, between the left leg and the tail feathers.

On the reverse we can find other wonderful design details, but I don’t want to spend too much time explaining something that you can observe and admire by yourself.

How much does a 1971 50 cent coin cost?

Well… we come to the part that surely arouses more interest. The  value of the 1971 50 cent coins  .

I’m sorry to tell you that most ’71 Kenedy Half Dollar coins have very little value. According to the Red Book  “A Guide Book of United States Coins”   460 million 482 thousand 157 50 cent coins were minted in 1971. Of course, these were distributed among different mints.

With such a large mintage we must assume that there is no shortage of ’71 50-cent coins. Most of these pieces range between $3 and $4. Those coins with MS-66 certification can fetch higher prices, ranging from $20 to $200, but these are the fewest.

The distribution of 50-cent coins, by mint and certification, looks like this:

Mint-Year Minted MS-63 MS-65 MS-66
1971 155,164,00 3.00 USD 60.00 USD
1971-D 302,097,424 3.00 USD 176.00 USD
1971-S 3,220,424 4.00 USD

Only in rare cases, when a MS-67 certified coin is presented, that is, with an unusual quality, the price goes up and can pass  $1,000  . In fact, the record for the most expensive 1971 Kenedy Half Dollar Half Dollar is held by a specimen sold at auction at Heritage Auctions on November 11, 2018, for  1,560 USD   .

So, if you heard or read somewhere that finding one of these coins could make you rich, I’m sorry to tell you it’s not going to happen.

Conclusions about the ’71 half dollar

I hope this article has helped you learn a little more about the wonderful 50 cent coins that are monopolizing searches these days.

Now when the subject of “those expensive coins” comes up at the family dinner you can explain everything you learned here. Most will be amazed, I can assure you.

On the other hand, you probably have a friend or acquaintance who searches rampantly for ’71 coins, hoping to amass a small fortune. If so, you should very well consider sending them this text to get their feet on the ground.

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at Startup.info.

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