Where is the Mint Mark on a Kennedy Half Dollar? If you have a Kennedy half dollar and you want to know where the mint mark is located, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll provide a detailed guide on finding the mint mark, what the different mint marks mean, and how they impact the value of your coin.
Here’s a quick answer if you’re short on time: The mint mark on Kennedy half dollars is located on the obverse (front) of the coin, just below John F. Kennedy’s neck.
What is a Mint Mark?
A mint mark refers to a small letter or symbol that is stamped onto a coin to indicate at which United States mint facility the coin was manufactured. Mint marks provide information about the origin of coins for coin collectors and directly impact the collectability and value of a coin.
Definition and Purpose of a Mint Mark
A mint mark is a small imprinted letter or symbol on a coin that identifies the mint where the coin was produced. Mint marks serve several key purposes:
- They indicate the specific mint where the coin was made – for example, San Francisco (S), Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), etc.
- They allow coin collectors and dealers to ascertain where a coin came from and build collections around specific mints.
- They can greatly influence the collectability and value of a coin, as mint marks from certain mints or years may be considerably rarer.
The Different US Mint Facilities and Corresponding Letters
There are currently four active United States Mint facilities. The mint mark letters associated with each facility are:
|– No mint mark Denver
|– D mint mark
|San Francisco (S)
|– S mint market
|t Point (W)
|– W mint mark, used intermittently
There are also a few historical mint facilities that were once operational:
- Carson City (CC) – Carson City, Nevada facility active 1870-1893
- Charlotte (C) – Charlotte, North Carolina facility active 1838-1861
- Dahlonega (D) – Dahlonega, Georgia facility active 1838–1861
- Manila (M) – Philippines branch active 1920–1922 and 1925–1941
Coins from these historical mints are highly prized by collectors and can command huge premiums if in good condition.
How Mint Marks Impact Collectability and Value
The mint mark on a coin can substantially raise or lower the coin’s market value to collectors, depending on the coin’s scarcity and demand.
- Some mint marks are common and appear on millions of coins. But others indicate a coin was part of a far more limited production run at a branch mint facility.
- Key date coins – those struck in years when mintages were low – command the highest prices, especially when carrying a scarce mint mark.
- Variation in condition also affects value. A lightly circulated 1964-D Kennedy half a dollar may sell for a small premium to its silver value. But a pristine, uncirculated 1964-D could be valued at many times this amount.
As an example, the 1992 Close AM Kennedy half dollar had extremely limited production, with only 486,000 business strikes released for circulation. Most bore no S mint mark. But around 1 in 4 of those 1992 Kennedy halves received the S mint mark.
This makes the 1992-S only marginally less rare than the 1955 S Roosevelt Dime and almost as expensive to acquire for many collectors.
Mint Marks on Kennedy Half Dollars
The Kennedy half dollar is an iconic American coin that has been minted since 1964. While most early examples did not contain a mint mark, identifying where your Kennedy half dollar was minted can add numismatic interest and value to the coin.
The 1960s transition to mint marks on the obverse
Up until 1968, mint marks denoting the mint that struck the coins were found on the reverse of all circulating U.S. coinage. However, the Treasury Department decided to move mint marks to the obverse starting in 1968 to deter coin counterfeiting.
This means Kennedy half dollars minted from 1964 to 1967 at facilities like Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco were indistinguishable based on mint mark alone.
The first coins to transition were Kennedy half dollars struck in 1968 at the Philadelphia and Denver mints, which now bore a small ‘P’ or ‘D’ mint mark on the obverse to the right of Kennedy’s portrait.
This practice continues today, with the mint mark appearing in the same location on all business strike Kennedy half-dollar releases.
Specific locations to find the mint mark
From 1968 to the present Kennedy half dollars, the best place to look for a mint mark is near the bottom right of the obverse face, in the field below Kennedy’s neckline. Depending on the size of the mint mark, it will be found just right or slightly lower than the bottom tip of the tie knot.
A small number of proof Kennedy half dollars struck in San Francisco in 1992-1998 will bear an ‘S’ mint mark in the same location. Otherwise, you will not see an ‘S’ mint mark because Proof examples were only made in Philadelphia and San Francisco, distinguishable by checking the edge lettering.
Appearance and sizes of mint marks
The size and visual appearance of Kennedy half-dollar mint marks have changed over time:
- 1968-1974 – Small mint marks (2mm) with serif font, deep relief
- 1975-1979 – Larger mint marks (3.5mm) with serif font, shallow relief
- 1980-2008 – Smaller mint marks (2.5mm) with non-serif font, shallow relief
- 2009-present – Larger mint marks (4mm) with non-serif font, shallow relief
These variations help collectors determine the era in which a mint mark Kennedy half dollar was struck. Pre-1968 dated examples lacking a mint mark are all Philadelphia issues. Of course, confirming mintage information from authoritative sources like PCGS or NGC references is advised when attributing any coin.
With a basic understanding of Kennedy half-dollar mint marks, identifying values based on mint location and era becomes much easier. Look for that small but important mint mark, and you may uncover a coin with an added numismatic premium!
Identifying Mint Marks on 1964 and Later Kennedys
Distinguishing features of Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco marks
Kennedy half dollars minted in Philadelphia have no mint mark. Coins from the Denver Mint feature a small “D” mark on the obverse below the date. San Francisco issues display an “S” in the same location.
These tiny letters are the quickest way to identify the origin of circulation strikes from 1964 onward.
The Philadelphia Mint generally achieved the highest production numbers, while San Francisco totals tended to be more limited. Denver’s output fell somewhere in between. However, there are exceptions, such as in 1970 when Denver topped 90 million coins versus just 20 million from Philadelphia.
Tips for reading hard-to-see or worn mint marks
On some Kennedy halves, the mint mark is faint and difficult to notice. Coins that saw heavy circulation may exhibit very flattened or virtually invisible marks.
In these cases, use a magnifying glass or microscope. Examine the area below the date carefully to detect traces of a D or S. Tilting the coin at an angle under good lighting often helps. Also, compared to images of mint marks on high-grade examples.
Worn, incomplete marks may resemble lint or a design element instead of a letter. But looking closely should reveal the intended shape and location.
Common mintages and values for each facility
As a rule, Philadelphia Kennedy half dollars are the most common and widely collected from each date. Highlights include 1964 with over 300 million struck and 1971 at over 68 million.
Denver Kennedy halves reached lofty totals in 1970 (over 96 million) and 1983 (over 101 million). But most dates hovered well below 50 million coins. Low mintages like 1970-D and 1987-D draw strong collector demand.
San Francisco generally saw mintages under 10 million per year. Just 2.8 million 1964-S halves entered circulation, along with a mere 4 million 1970-S coins. These low outputs make the “S” issues more valuable to collectors in top grades.
Special Mint Set Coins Without Mint Marks
What are SMS Kennedy half dollars?
SMS (Special Mint Set) Kennedy half dollars were made from 1965 to 1967 at the Philadelphia and Denver mints. They were produced as collector’s items with specially prepared planchets and dies. Unlike regular coin production, these Kennedy halves did not bear any mint mark indicating their place of origin.
Why these lack mint marks compared to proofs
Regular circulation of Kennedy half dollars from 1965-1967 carried a mint mark “D” for Denver and proof versions made for collectors also had visible mint marks.
However, the SMS Kennedy halves were intentionally created without mint marks. This distinguished them from circulation and proof coinage. The special planchets and dies gave them a matte-like surface, much different in appearance from brilliant-proof coins.
Their unique history and value
The first SMS sets were made in 1965 after the U.S. Coinage Act of 1965 eliminated silver from circulating dimes, quarters, and half dollars. With no silver, the public lost interest in saving new Kennedy halves from circulation.
In response, the U.S. Mint created the SMS sets as collector’s versions of the new copper-nickel-clad Kennedy halves. They were very popular, with over 2 million SMS sets sold between 1965 and 1967.
Today, SMS Kennedy half-dollars trade for significant premiums over regular half-dollars from those years. Values range from around $15 to $35 each, depending on condition. Those without distracting marks or impairments are most desirable to collectors.
While not as rare or expensive as proof of Kennedy halves, SMS coins occupy an intriguing niche in the Kennedy half-dollar series. Their lack of mint marks sets them apart as special numismatic items.
Caring for and Storing Coins with Mint Marks
Best practices to preserve mint marks
Mint marks are small letters stamped on coins to indicate at which US mint the coin was produced. Since mint marks are raised elements on the coin’s surface, they can wear down over time with improper handling. Here are some tips to keep mint marks looking crisp:
- Avoid touching mint marks excessively. Skin oils and friction can slowly erase mint marks.
- Store coins in protective holders made of inert plastics like polyethylene, polypropylene, or vinyl. These materials won’t interact chemically with coin surfaces.
- When handling coins, hold them by the edges to avoid touching the mint mark. Wear cotton gloves for better grip.
- Clean coins only when necessary using gentle techniques like immersing in distilled water or wiping with a soft, lint-free cloth. Harsh cleaners can damage mint marks.
Handling coins properly without damaging them
Any type of wear and tear over time can obliterate mint marks, decreasing a coin’s collectible value. Follow these best practices when handling coins to keep them in pristine condition:
- Always hold coins by the edges, between thumb and forefinger. Avoid touching the faces.
- Use clean, dry, lint-free cotton gloves when handling to prevent skin oils from damaging surfaces.
- Work over a soft surface like a microfiber cloth or foam pad to cushion a dropped coin.
- Flip coins vertically rather than sliding across a hard surface to prevent abrasion.
- Never use hard tools like tweezers or needles to handle coins. Use a gentle grip.
Choosing containers that protect from wear
Choosing the right coin storage container can prevent mint marks from rubbing off over time. Here are some ideal options:
- Clear plastic sleeves allow viewing of the coin while protecting the surface.
- Capsules completely encase the coin, preventing contact during handling.
- Album pages have indented pockets that hold coins securely.
- Archival boxes have padded slots to separate coins from touching.
Avoid materials like wood, cardboard, and polyvinylchloride plastics, which can interact with coin surfaces. Proper storage in inert materials creates a protective microclimate.
|Clear plastic sleeves allow
|w viewing while protecting
|Fully encase coins
|Album pages have
|e indented pockets
|Archival boxes have
|e padded slots
By caring for mint marks properly, collectors can maintain the condition and historical integrity of their coins for generations to come. With some common sense handling and storage solutions, mint marks can remain crisp and vivid.
Where is the Mint Mark on a Kennedy Half Dollar – Conclusion
We covered everything you need to know about finding mint marks on Kennedy half dollars, identifying the facility they represent, and protecting this important feature.
With this guide, you can now easily locate the mint mark, distinguish between different versions, and gain a deeper appreciation for these fascinating coins.