Question: Are Kennedy silver half dollars worth more than face value ($0.50)?
Answer 1/21 kudos @
Before 1971, there was actual silver in several U.S. coins. Recently, the price of silver has skyrocketed so that the "melt value" of old U.S. coins containing silver is far higher than the face value. "Melt value" is the idea of melting down coins to extract their component metals and then selling the metals; the intentional destruction of money is probably illegal.
Starting in 1965, silver was completely eliminated from U.S. coinage EXCEPT for the Kennedy half dollar. Instead, the silver content of the Kennedy half dollar was reduced from 90% (before 1965) to 40% (from 1965 through 1970). After 1970, silver was also eliminated from the Kennedy half dollar so that no newly-minted U.S. coins contained silver. (Note: There is one exception: From 1971 to 1976 a 40% silver Eisenhower dollar was issued but it was intended for the collector's market and not general circulation. If you come across an Eisenhower dollar from this time period in general circulation it is probably not the 40% silver variety but the lighter copper-nickel version.)
So to answer the original question ("Are Kennedy half dollars worth more than $0.50?"):
1. The 1965-1971 Kennedy half dollar (40% silver) had a melt value of $5.87 on July 28, 2011.
2. The 1964 Kennedy half dollar (90% silver) had a melt value of $14.34 on July 28, 2011.
3. Kennedy half dollars from 1971 onward have no silver. Their value to collectors is largely sentimental but still might be 2-4 times face value.
The numismatic value of the Kennedy half dollar (its value to collectors) probably raises the value of these coins above their melt value (or their face value for post-1970 coins) because Kennedy was a popular president. Also, some speculators believe that the price of silver will go much higher and are willing to pay a premium above current prices. Check on eBay to get an idea of collector's values (http://coins.shop.ebay.com/Kennedy-1964-Now-/41102/i.html ).
Checking on eBay suggests that post-1970 half dollars (which have no silver) might still fetch 2 to 4 times face value. However, this might represent unscrupulous people trying to take advantage of those who don't realize that the post-1970 half dollar has no silver.
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