Where is the mint mark on a 1942 half-dollar? The 1942 half dollar holds intrigue for coin collectors due to the transition to wartime silver alloy that year. If you have come across a 1942 half-in-your-pocket change, you may be wondering – where is the mint mark located on this coin?

We’ll provide a detailed breakdown of identifying the mint that struck your 1942 fifty-cent piece.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: the mint mark on a 1942 half dollar is located on the reverse (tails side) of the coin, just in front of the eagle’s left talon.

What Is a Mint Mark?

Definition and Purpose of Mint Marks

A mint mark is a small letter stamped on a coin to indicate at which United States mint facility the coin was manufactured. Mint marks have been used on most circulating coins produced at US mints since the mid-19th century.

The main purpose of mint marks is to identify the mint where the coin was made. This allows numismatists and coin collectors to attribute where a certain coin came from. It also assists in tracing the coin’s manufacturing history and determining its rarity or value compared to other issues of the same year and denomination.

Another reason mint marks were implemented was to deter counterfeiting and enable the identification of fake or altered coins. The mark signifies that the coin is an authentic product made by a US government mint rather than a counterfeit copy.

Over the years, coins have been produced at multiple branch mints across the US in addition to the main facility in Philadelphia. The current mints in operation are Philadelphia, Denver (D), and San Francisco (S). Each mint uses its unique mint mark letter on coins to differentiate its products.

Mint Marks on Pre-1965 US Coins

From the origins of US coinage in the 1790s until 1964, nearly all regular issue circulating coins like cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars bore a mint mark if they were manufactured outside of the main Philadelphia mint. Exceptions include certain early coin issues and commemoratives.

The first mint marks appeared sporadically in the early 1800s on gold and silver coins from newly opened branch mints in Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans. But mint marks did not become prevalent until the late 1930s, primarily on silver denominations.

Some of the mint mark letters found on pre-1965 US coins include:

  • O – New Orleans
  • CC – Carson City
  • D – Denver
  • S – San Francisco

This system of mint marks enabled coin collectors and dealers to assemble complete sets of coins by mint location. Certain mint-marked issues had lower mintages, making them more desired by numismatists.

In 1965 and 1966, mint marks were temporarily discontinued from circulating coinage, with most coins struck at all mints not having any identifying mint marks. However, mint marks reappeared in 1967 and remain an integral aspect of US coins today.

Minting of the 1942 Half Dollar

The transition from 90% Silver to Silver Alloy

In 1942, the United States Mint transitioned the composition of half dollars from 90% silver and 10% copper to a silver alloy containing 56% silver, 35% copper, and 9% manganese. This change was prompted by the rising value of silver during World War II and the need to conserve the metal for strategic purposes.

Up until 1965, most circulating U.S. coins, including half dollars, were made primarily of silver. However, as the price of silver bullion continued rising in the early 1940s, the intrinsic value of silver coins began exceeding their face values.

This led to widespread hoarding and melting of coins by the public to profit from their silver content. Faced with a coin shortage, the U.S. Mint decided to change the metal composition of nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars to reduce reliance on strategic silver reserves.

The new silver alloy maintained the silvery color of traditional 90% silver coins while enabling a substantial 40% reduction in the amount of silver used. This conserved over 100 million ounces of the white metal for industrial use during wartime.

The alloy also wore relatively better than pure silver coins. Despite the changed composition, the 1942 half-dollar still retained the Walking Liberty design first introduced in 1916 on the obverse and the eagle design on the reverse.

Three Active Mints in 1942

In 1942, half dollars were struck at three active U.S. Mint facilities in Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D mint mark), and San Francisco (S mint mark). The Denver and San Francisco Mints primarily produced coins to meet commercial demand in the Western part of the country.

Mint Facility Mintage in 1942
Denver 10,973,800
San Francisco 12,708,000

The above mintage totals include both 90% silver half dollars made earlier in the year before the composition change as well as later clad versions. Identifying the minting origin of a 1942 half dollar requires checking for a small D or S mint mark on the reverse right under the center eagle’s tail feathers.

No mint marks indicate circulation halves from the main Philadelphia Mint facility, experts estimate Philadelphia produced approximately 12 million of the new 35% silver-clad half dollars in 1942 following the composition change implemented partway through the year on April 27.

So while quite plentiful overall, finding a Philadelphia 1942 half dollar struck specifically in the newer alloy can be a bit tougher.

For more information and images about identifying 1942 half dollars by mint facility, visit PCGS CoinFacts.

Finding the Mint Mark on a 1942 Half

Standard Location Below Eagle’s Talons

On most circulating half dollars minted between 1941 and 1945, including the 1942 half dollar, the mint mark is located on the reverse side of the coin in front of the eagle’s talons. This was the standard placement for mint marks at that time.

The mint mark indicates which US mint facility struck the coin – Philadelphia (no mint mark), San Francisco (S), or Denver (D).

No Mint Mark Indicates Philadelphia Mint

If there is no mint mark on a 1942 half-dollar in front of the eagle’s talons, then it was struck at the Philadelphia mint. This was the main facility producing circulating coinage, so Philadelphia mint coins lacked mint marks to distinguish them.

S = San Francisco, D = Denver Mints

Any 1942 half dollars bearing an ‘S’ mint mark were struck at the San Francisco mint, while a ‘D’ mint mark signifies coins made in Denver. Output from those two branch mints was lower in 1942 due to the war.

Mint Facility 1942 Half Dollar Mintage
Philadelphia (No Mint Mark) 47,839,120
San Francisco (S Mint Mark) 10,973,800
Denver (D Mint Mark) 12,708,000

As the numbers show, San Francisco was the secondary mint in 1942 after Philadelphia, while the Denver mint saw lower half-dollar production.

Impact of Mint Mark on Collectability and Value

Key Dates and Conditions Still Most Important

When determining the value of a 1942 half-dollar, the most important factors are still the coin’s date and condition. Certain dates like 1942 are key dates that are more scarce and desirable to collectors.

And a coin in pristine, uncirculated condition will always be worth more than one that is heavily worn.

That said, the mint mark can add extra interest, history, and value for collectors and specialists. Let’s explore why.

But Mint Marks Add Interest for Collectors

While all 1942 half dollars had the same denomination and base silver content, they weren’t all made equal. There were three active U.S. Mints that year producing the coins:

  • Philadelphia (no mint mark)
  • Denver (D mint mark)
  • San Francisco (S mint mark)

The mint marks indicate not only where the coins were made, but also their relative rarity. According to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation’s census data:


Mint Mark Mintage Estimated Surviving Examples
No MM (Philadelphia) 47,839,120 225,000+
D (Denver) 10,973,800
S (San Francisco) 12,708,000 60,000

So while the Philadelphia issue is the most common, the Denver and San Francisco coins are almost 10 times more scarce. This makes them more popular with collectors seeking better dates for their sets.

The mint marks also carry history. The San Francisco Mint was known for specialist commemorative coinage. The Denver mint had only reopened that year after being temporarily converted to produce war material. So these factors add numismatic charm.

At the auction, these mint-marked pieces commonly realize significant premiums over their Philadelphia counterparts, even in the same grade levels. So while the condition reigns supreme, the mint marks do impact collector appeal and monetary value.

How to Store and Preserve Your 1942 Half-Dollar

Protect Coins from Direct Handling

When storing a rare 1942 half-dollar, it’s crucial to avoid directly touching the coin’s surface with your bare hands. The oils and dirt on human skin can damage the coin’s delicate surface and reduce its value over time. Here are some tips to safely handle your coin:

  • Always hold the coin by its edges or wear cotton gloves when handling
  • After touching, gently clean the coin with a soft cloth to prevent residue buildup
  • Consider using coin flip holders or plastic capsules when briefly handling for inspection

By limiting direct skin contact and fingerprints, you preserve the stunning details on your 70+-year-old half-dollar for generations to enjoy.

Use Archival Quality Coin Holders and Storage

Protecting the surface is only part of preservation. To guard against environmental damage, 1942 half dollars require proper long-term storage solutions including:

  • Inert plastic capsules or slabs that seal out air, moisture, and pollutants
  • Archival quality folders made of non-PVC acidic-free plastics
  • Storage away from excess light, heat, or humidity to prevent corrosion

Third-party coin grading services like NGC and PCGS encapsulate coins in protective slabs ideal for storage. But for raw coins, non-PVC coin flip holders combined with airtight plastic cases or cabinets work well.

Stick to storage made of inert plastics instead of paper or wood that can emit gases and acids over time.

With some care and the right storage, your rare 1942 Walking Liberty half can maintain its radiant luster for decades to come. Handle with care and verify slabs when buying sight unseen.

Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1942 Half-Dollar – Conclusion

We have covered the important background details on mint marks and the 1942 half-dollar issue. As you have learned, locating the mint mark in front of the eagle’s talon on the reverse side shows which of the three active mints that year struck your coin.

Combined with identifying any key date and judging overall wear condition, the mint mark adds another dimension of interest and value for this classic silver coin.

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