What makes a 1963 half-dollar rare? The 1963 half dollar is a popular coin for collectors due to the fact that it marks the last year the half dollar was made of 90% silver. But not all 1963 half dollars are equally rare or valuable. If you’re wondering what factors make a 1963 half-dollar more sought-after, read on.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The main things that make a 1963 half-dollar rare and increase its value are proof or specialized mint set to finish, any mint mark besides the common Philadelphia mint, an especially high-grade condition, unique errors/varieties, special label/holder, and original mint luster.

Proof and Special Mint Set Coins

Far Lower Mintage

Proof versions of coins always have a much lower mintage than regular strikes. This scarcity greatly boosts the desirability and value of proof half dollars.

Special Handling

Proof coins receive special care and handling from the United States Mint during production as the engraving on the dies used to strike these coins is more carefully formed. Additionally, proof coin blanks are specially selected for an ultra-smooth finish and flawless appearance. NGC notes that proof blanks are hand-polished and examined before striking to ensure no nicks, scratches, or scuffs.

Eye-Catching Finish

The attention to detail in creating proof coinage leads to a beautiful, mirror-like surface that shines brightly under a light source. Collectors value this “cameo” contrast between the deeply mirrored fields and frosty design elements.

Prominently bag-free and without the unsightly marks often found on lower-quality regular strikes, proofs capture the intricate work of the die engraver.

With such small mintages receiving gentle care that enhances eye appeal, it’s no wonder 1963 Half Dollars trade at multiples of regular circulation strikes. Collectible bullion company Gold Silver Bull notes that choice examples can sell for $100 or even more, compared to just a couple of dollars for well-worn regular strikes.

Mint Marks

Key Date Denver Mint

The Denver Mint facility began producing coins in 1906. In 1963, they minted just over 12 million Kennedy half dollars. While not the lowest mintage from Denver that decade, the 1963-D is still considered a semi-key date for the series.

Here are some key details on the 1963-D Kennedy half dollar:

  • Total mintage: 67,069,292
  • Current value (MS60): Around $15
  • Current value (MS65): Around $50

So while common in lower uncirculated grades, the ’63-D becomes moderately scarce in MS65 condition or better. High-end examples certified MS67 can trade for $150-200.

Condition and Grade

Untouched Original Surfaces

The condition and grade of a 1963 half-dollar play a major role in determining its rarity and value. Coins in mint condition with untouched original surfaces tend to be the most coveted and valuable. This means the coin’s original luster and patina have been perfectly preserved without any signs of wear, cleaning, or damage since it left the mint.

A small number of 1963 half-dollars escaped into circulation right when they were minted before collectors could acquire them. These coins still retain their pristine, untouched surfaces with full mint luster and toning in all the crevices and devices.

They are essentially in the same state as when they rolled off the mint’s press. This virgin surface preservation greatly appeals to collectors and commands tremendous premiums.

Free of Marks/Toning

Along with untouched surfaces, 1963 half-dollars that are free of distracting marks and undesirable toning are also more valuable. Light hairlines and bag marks from contact with other coins are inevitable, but coins with clean fields and devices bring stronger prices.

Toning can be attractive, but many collectors still prefer the original brilliant silver color.

The most valuable 1963 halves combine both flawless surfaces and untoned, vibrant white silver. These coins rank among the peak condition Census or Registry Set coins. Only a minute fraction of the over 100 million 1963 half-dollars struck could possibly remain today with such pristine quality.

Errors and Varieties

Double Dies

Double dies occur when the coin blank is struck multiple times by the die. This results in the doubling of design elements on the coin’s surface. The most famous double-die variety for 1963 half dollars is the 1963 50c DDO (Doubled Die Obverse).

Only a few hundred examples of the 1963 50c DDO are known to exist, making them highly sought-after by a variety of collectors. An uncirculated example sold for over $17,000 in 2022.

Off-Center Strikes

Off-center strikes happen when the coin blank is not properly aligned in the coining press before it is struck by the dies. This causes the design to be punched off-center on the coin’s surface. Off-center 1963 Franklin half-dollars display partial design elements on one side that are missing on the other.

Dramatic off-centers that show little design on one side can sell for hundreds of dollars.

Unique Toning

Toning refers to the rainbow-colored patinas that naturally develop on silver coins over many years of exposure to minute amounts of sulfur and other elements. Beautifully toned 1963 Franklin half dollars with unique, vibrant colors command significant premiums.

A 1963-D half-dollar-toned blue, pink, and yellow sold at auction for over $2,000. Toning patterns that form images like bands or crescents are especially popular with collectors.

Original Mint Luster

One of the key factors that makes a 1963 half-dollar rare and valuable is having original mint luster. Mint luster refers to the reflective, frosty shine that coins have when they are freshly struck at the mint.

Over time, a coin’s luster will fade as it accumulates wear and tear from circulation and handling.

A 1963 half-dollar with full, vibrant mint luster is quite scarce and desirable among collectors and investors. This is especially true for higher grade examples graded MS-63 or higher by third-party grading services like PCGS or NGC.

An MS-65 1963 half-dollar with blazing mint luster can be worth anywhere from $50 to $150 or more.

Why Original Luster Increases Value

There are a few key reasons why original mint luster adds value and appeal to a 1963 half dollar:

  • It is an indicator of quality and preservation – Luster shows the coin has not suffered major wear and is a higher-grade survivor.
  • It enhances eye appeal – The flashy, chrome-like finishes make coins more attractive.
  • It shows authenticity – Counterfeits rarely replicate mint luster convincingly.

For these reasons, collectors are often willing to pay sizable premiums for lustrous 1963 Franklin half-dollars over worn examples with little to no mint shine.

Where to Find Lustrous Specimens

The best places to locate brilliant, lustrous 1963 half-dollars include:

  • Certified coins from reputable grading companies like PCGS and NGC
  • High-grade raw coins from specialty dealers and auction houses
  • Online trading sites like eBay and auction marketplaces

It takes some searching, but gem-quality pieces with radiant luster do surface from time to time. Special care must be taken when buying raw coins online, as cleaned or impaired specimens may falsely appear lustrous in photos or descriptions.

Special Labeling and Holders

Some 1963 half-dollars have special labels or holders that can increase their value to collectors. Here are some things to look for:

Proof Sets

The 1963 proof set contains a proof version of the 1963 half dollar, struck at the Philadelphia mint with a polished, mirror-like surface. These proof coins have sharper details than normal circulating coins. The 1963 proof set was popular at the time, with over 4 million sets produced.

A proof 1963 half in good condition can sell for $8-12.

SMS Sets

SMS stands for “Special Mint Set.” These were special coin sets sold directly from the US Mint in 1965 after they halted proof coin production from 1965-1967. The 1963 SMS half-dollars have a matte finish and sharper details.

An SMS 1963 half in good shape can sell for $15-25.

ANACS and NGC Holders

ANACS and NGC are two major third-party coin grading services. If you find a 1963 half-dollar encapsulated in an ANACS or NGC plastic holder, it has been professionally assessed for quality and authenticity. For example, a 1963 half-graded MS65 by NGC sold for over $500 at a 2022 auction.

The plastic holder preserves the coin and adds credibility for collectors.

Holder Type Average Value
NGC/PCGS MS65 $500-$1,000
ANACS MS63 $50-$75

In general, 1963 half dollars in slabbed NGC or PCGS holders tend to command significant premiums over raw coins. The higher the grade, the more valuable they become.

Other Special Labels

You may also come across 1963 halves with special commemorative labels like those distributed at the 1982 World’s Fair. While these labels may have some novelty value, they don’t significantly increase the coin’s worth to serious collectors.

Authentic rare coin grading or special mint set holders, on the other hand, can greatly increase the value of your 1963 Kennedy half-dollar. Carefully inspect any labels or plastic casings to look for evidence of tampering or counterfeiting.

What Makes A 1963 Half-Dollar Rare – Conclusion

In summary, 1963 half-dollars can carry significant collectible value and be considered rare if they have proof or mint set origins, very high preserved grades, errors/varieties, original mint luster, or special labeling/holders certifying their legitimacy and grade.

Checking for these attributes can help you identify if your 1963 half-dollar is extra valuable or rare.

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