The 1974 Half Dollar belongs to the Kennedy Half Dollar series, inaugurated in 1964 as a tribute to President John F. Kennedy following his untimely assassination. By 1974, the U.S. Mint had transitioned from silver to other materials for its circulating coins. Unlike its 1964 predecessor that boasted a 90% silver content, the 1974 variant is crafted from copper-nickel. This coin features a pure copper core encased in a copper-nickel alloy exterior.
This piece comprehensively examines the 1974 Kennedy half-dollar, also known as the 1974 Liberty half-dollar. It delves into its design, production figures, value, and the errors that enhance its worth.
Table of Contents
- 1 The 1974 Half Dollar Design, Composition, & Dimensions
- 2 The 1974 Half Dollar Value
- 3 1974 Kenny Half Dollar Errors & Potential Values
- 4 Conclusion
The 1974 Half Dollar Design, Composition, & Dimensions
The 1974 Half Dollar’s obverse prominently features a left-facing depiction of President John F. Kennedy, characterized by a notable smile and detailed hair strands, a touch insisted upon by Jackie O. The word “LIBERTY” is gracefully inscribed along the coin’s edge, spanning from Kennedy’s collar on the left to his back on the right.
Beneath this portrait, the minting year “1974” is clearly stamped. Near Kennedy’s neckline, the unique initials “GR” are embedded, designed to resemble a sickle cell, symbolizing the work of chief engraver Gilroy Roberts. Elegantly separating Kennedy’s neck are the words “IN GOD” to the left and “WE TRUST” to the right, completing the cherished phrase.
The reverse of the 1974 Kennedy Half Dollar boasts intricate detailing. A striking, left-facing bald eagle with outstretched wings is central to the design. In its talons, the eagle clutches an olive branch, symbolizing peace, and thirteen arrows, representing the original U.S. colonies. A shield with thirteen stripes adorns the eagle’s chest. Above this, the eagle’s beak proudly holds a banner inscribed with the Latin phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”
Above the eagle, radiant beams of light are interlaced with thirteen stars and accompanying clouds, again honoring the initial thirteen states. Encircling the majestic eagle is a constellation of 52 stars, symbolizing each state in the nation. Emblazoned along the bottom rim is the coin’s denomination, “HALF DOLLAR”, while “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” arcs at the top.
The initials “FG” are a discreet touch nestled beneath the eagle’s right talon, crediting assistant engraver Frank Gasparro for his exemplary reverse design.
Where is the Mint Mark on a 1974 Half Dollar?
The mint mark, which signifies the coin’s place of origin, is positioned on the obverse side, nestled between the digits 9 and 7 of the minting year. While the 1974 Kennedy Half Dollars from the Philadelphia Mint carry no mint mark, those minted in Denver and San Francisco proudly display the “D” and “S” marks, respectively.
Compositions & Dimensions
The 1974 half dollar is crafted with a pure copper core, enveloped by an exterior layer blending 75% copper and 25% nickel. Weighing in at 11.34 grams and spanning 30.61 millimeters (1.205 inches) in diameter, it stands as one of the most sizable coins in American numismatic history. The coin boasts a thickness of 2.15 millimeters (0.085 inches) and is finely edged with 150 reeds.
The 1974 Half Dollar Value
A circulated 1974 Kennedy Half Dollar between $0.60 and $0.75. Yet, these coins can fetch up to $2,950 in today’s market in immaculate, uncirculated condition. Notably, a 1974 Kennedy Half Dollar graded MS68 by PCGS once achieved an auction record of $8,000.
What Makes a 1974 Half-Dollar Rare
Kennedy half dollars from 1974 are not rare due to their relatively high mintage of around 300 million. These coins are readily available at affordable prices even in mint state. However, half dollars in excellent mint conditions (MS67 or higher) are considered scarce and very rare. Uncirculated rare 1974 Kennedy Half Dollars in Proof Condition can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars.
1974 D Half Dollar
1974 Half Dollars produced by the Denver facility have the mintmark “D” on the obverse, and they were 64,625,000 in total. With such a high mintage, these coins are quite common.
1974 D Half Dollar Value
While the 1974-D half dollar is readily available, it’s less valuable. Each piece is typically worth face value ($0.50) in circulated condition. However, a 1974 D Half Dollar can sell for $820 in MS67 condition.
1974 S Half Dollar
The San Francisco-minted 1974-S half dollar is relatively common, with a production run of 2,612,568 units. Notably, all these coins were crafted as proofs. Proofs differ from standard coins; they’re struck on polished planchets using specially treated dies. Based on the contrast achieved, this treatment imbues the initial 50-100 proofs with a distinct frosted or mirrored finish, often termed Deep Cam, CAM, or Cameo.
1974 S Half Dollar Value
Contrary to what one might expect, proof coins don’t always command higher values than their circulated counterparts, mainly because their unique minting process makes them susceptible to wear. That said, the high copper content of these coins lends durability, allowing them to remain in pristine condition for extended periods. This durability can bolster their market value. A 1974 S half dollar graded PR65 might fetch around $5.70, but a PR70 DCAM specimen can surge in value up to $7,900.
1974 Half Dollar No Mint Mark
Coins minted in Philadelphia, the oldest of the three U.S. Mints, don’t carry a mint mark. In 1974, this mint produced a substantial 201,596,000 half dollars, marking the second-highest mintage for that year.
1974 Half Dollar No Mint Mark Value
These coins are generally worth their face value in circulated condition. However, half dollars in uncirculated and higher grading can fetch a premium. The current auction price record for a half dollar without a mintmark in MS68 is $8,000. This value was registered in March 2021 at an eBay sale. Another specimen in MS67 sold for $2,300.
1974 Half Dollar Value Chart
|1974 Half Dollar No Mint Mark (Philadelphia)||$0.60||$0.60||$0.60||$2,950|
|1974 D Half Dollar (Denver)||$0.60||$0.60||$0.60||$325|
|1974 S Proof Half Dollar (San Francisco)||N/A||N/A||N/A||$425|
1974 Kenny Half Dollar Errors & Potential Values
Collectors are always on the lookout for intriguing coin errors, as they can significantly enhance the value of a coin. The 1974 Kennedy half dollar is no exception. Here are some of the most sought-after errors:
Doubled Die Obverse (DDO)
This error involves a noticeable doubling on select design elements on the obverse side. For the 1974 Kennedy half dollar, you may notice doubling on the date, the word “LIBERTY,” the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” or other parts of the design.
Coins with DDO errors can be worth hundreds of dollars, based on their condition and the extent of the doubling. A 1974 DDO Half Dollar in MS66 condition sold for an impressive $1,527.50 at auction.
Re-punched Mint Marks (RPM)
Re-punched mint marks are coins with mint marks that were struck more than once. While not as valuable as DDO errors, these coins can still command a premium from collectors. One specimen in MS65+ can easily fetch up to $270 or more.
1974 Half Dollar Struck on a $5 Taiwan Planchet
A planchet is a blank disc prepared for coin minting. Occasionally, planchets from different countries or denominations mistakenly enter the minting process, leading to the creation of unique error coins. Those minted on incorrect planchets, such as the $5 Taiwan planchet, are especially rare and sought-after by collectors. An error of this kind with an AU55 grade can fetch $430.
1974 Half-Dollar Broad Struck Error
Some coins have styling on their edges, and the 1974 Half Dollar is a great example. The mint facility uses incursion machines or three-piece collars to design the coin’s 150 reeds. However, if the collars detach or fall off prematurely, the coin flattens and spills over, resulting in a broad or oversized appearance. This error is called a broad strike, and a 1974 Broad Struck Half Dollar in MS60 can be worth $125.
This error arises when the planchet isn’t properly aligned in the press or gets mispositioned during the minting process. The outcome is a coin with an off-center imprint, which can vary from a slight 5% misalignment to a significant 99% deviation. The value of these error coins often depends on the extent of the off-centering. For instance, a 1974 50C Kennedy Half Dollar, 10% off-center and graded AU58 by ANACs, fetched $160 in October 2020.
Coins with clashed dies have evidence of the dies coming into contact during the minting process, leaving marks on the coin’s surface. The value of these errors can vary depending on the severity of the clash. Expect to spend from as low as $9.99 on platforms like eBay.
Die cracks occur when the dies used in the minting process develop small cracks or imperfections. The presence of die cracks can enhance a coin’s value, especially if they are extensive or prominent.
More Kennedy Half Dollar Series Articles
- The 1971 Kennedy Half Dollar
- The 1972 Kennedy Half Dollar
- The 1974 Kennedy Half Dollar
- Bicentennial 1776 to 1976 Half Dollar
The 1974 Kennedy half dollar, with its unique copper-nickel clad composition, offers collectors a window into a fascinating era in American coinage history. While most 1974 half dollars may not hold substantial intrinsic value, they have great numismatic significance. Collectors are drawn to the world of errors and varieties, where certain coins can shine as rare gems. Whether you’re a pro collector or just starting your numismatic journey, the 1974 half-dollar is a piece of history worth exploring and cherishing.