1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Value (Errors, “D” Mint & More)

The 1971 Kennedy half dollars are certainly one of the most popular & successful denominations in American numismatic history. In fact, these coins, made as a memorial for Sir Kennedy, the 35th President, fused all the national seals & slogans, making them important today!

And even though these have a cheaper copper and nickel core, they value more for their designer marks and stamps! But do those marks help you spot a REAL 1971 half-dollar and appraise it? Let’s find out!

Key Takeaways

  • Despite the high mintage numbers, 1971 half dollars with rare silver clad or nickel planchet errors are rare, valuing over $6,000 today!
  • Old Kennedy half dollars have two types of mints: no-mintmark (Philadelphia) and d-mint (Denver), of which the Philadelphia ones cost more due to the low make.
  • 1971 Kennedy half dollars have all the national marks – the Great Seal, the President’s coat of arms, and the 50 stars, one each for the different States on the reverse.
  • You can identify 19971 Kennedy half-dollar proof coins by the unique s-mark on their obverse under the President’s profile. 

The Historical Timeline of the 1971 Kennedy Half Dollar

The Kennedy Half Dollar, first minted in 1964 as a memorial to Sir John Kennedy, went through some major historical changes as follows:

  • 1963: John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the US, was assassinated, and the Congress proposed minting half-dollar Kennedy coins as a memorial.
  • 1964: The Philadelphia Mint produced the first Kennedy half dollars, with a premium composition of 90% silver and 10% copper. But later, these faced the problem of melting and hoarding coins because of their high silver content.
  • 1971: In 1971, Congress asked the mint to ban silver and use copper and nickel to increase circulation. So, the mint molded a central core of 75% copper with 25% nickel plating, making it the first copper & nickel coin in American numismatic history!
  • 1975: The reverse design, featuring a bald eagle, was changed to a depiction of the American Independence Hall to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the United States. But, the composition, size & thickness remained the same.
1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Composition & Materials
1971 Kennedy Half DollarKey Features
Material Composition75% Copper & 25% Nickel
Minting LocationPhiladelphia, Denver
Minting Year1971
Weight11.34 grams
Diameter30.6mm
Thickness2.15mm
DesignerGilroy Roberts (Obverse)Frank Gasparro (Reverse)
Face Value$0.5 or 50 cents
Mint MarksNo Mint Mark (Philadelphia Mint)‘D’ Mint Mark (Denver Mint)
EdgeReeded
Total Mintage457,737,424

Design Details of the 1971 Half-Dollar Coin

Designed by Gilroy Roberts & Frank Gasparro, the 1971 half-dollar coin bears a close resemblance to the official medals & seals of the US, along with the following design:

1. Obverse or Heads Design

1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Obverse

Inspired by Sir Kennedy’s presidential medal, the Obverse, designed by Gilroy Robert, portrays these features:

  • A left-sided portrait of John F. Kennedy, based on a picture by artist Aaron Shikler, in the center
  • The word ‘LIBERTY’ engraved in high kerning along the upper-half outer edge
  • President’s hair partially covering the ‘B,’ ‘E,’ & ‘R’ letters of the word ‘LIBERTY’
  • ‘IN GOD’ relief-carved on the bottom-left of the obverse, and ‘WE TRUST’ carved along the bottom-right side of the President’s portrait, below the neckline
  • The mint date (1971) etched along the bottom edge, under the cameo
  • A plain, double rim along the outer edge
  • A ‘GR’ (Gilroy Robert) monogram at the bottom of the President’s neck

2. Reverse or Tails Design

1971 Half Dollar Reverse

You can identify the reverse, designed by Frank Gasparro and inspired by the ‘Great Seal of the United States, with the following traits:

  • A modified and slightly decorative depiction of the official president’s seal
  • A typical American eagle with outstretched wings at the center
  • An embossed version of the President’s coat of arms on its chest
  • An olive branch (for peace) in its right claw and a bundle of 13 arrows (depicting war) in the left
  • A marked ribbon with the words, ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’ above the eagle’s head
  • The words ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ engraved along the upper-half rim
  • The face value, ‘HALF DOLLAR’ inscribed along the lower edge
  • A ring of 15 stars (depicting the 50 US states) around the eagle
  • An etched ‘FG’ logo (short for Frank Gasparro) under the eagle’s left leg

3. Coin Composition, Measurements & Dimensions

Unlike the earliest 1964 half dollars, the new 1971 coins used an alloy of 75% copper & 25% nickel. And although the coin weighs about 11.34 grams, it has a specific gravity of 8.92, making it hard, heavy & durable.

Apart from that, the coin has a diameter of 30.6 mm and a standard thickness of 2.15mm. Also, it has a reeded edge, consisting of 150 reeds, that makes the coin worth collecting.

4. Special Mint Marks & Identifying Features

  • The ‘No-mint mark’ 1971 Kennedy half dollars: All of the 155 million+ half dollars minted in Philadelphia don’t have any mint marks. So naturally, all these coins have a lower value, only about $0.6 – 35, unless they are mint or at least MS 65+ grade.
  • The 1971 D Kennedy half dollar coins: The Denver mint also produced the 1971 half dollars, each with a small ‘D’ mint mark under the President’s neck on the obverse. These usually cost $0.6 – 40, but those with an MS 68 or uncirculated grade might cost more, even up to $3,800.
1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Minting Locations

4 Helpful Factors to Value a 1971 Kennedy Half-Dollar Coin

Now, let’s discuss all the crucial and expert-approved factors that will help you value your old 1971 half-dollar rightly:

1. Condition & Grading

The 1971 half-dollar already has a huge mintage, 457,737,424 coins in total. So, it’s obvious that the ungraded or damaged coins won’t be worth a lot. In contrast, a graded coin from the NGS, PCGS, or ICG might be worth more, even up to $2,000 in mint state.

I did in-depth research on e-commerce and auction sites and prepared this 1971 half-dollar value guide based on the coins’ grades:

Coin’s Condition or Grade1971 Half Dollar (No Mint)1971 D Half Dollar (Denver) 
Good (G) to Very Fine (VF20+)Less than 10 centsLess than 60 cents
Extremely Fine (XF40) – Almost Uncirculated (AU58+)Less than $1Less than $1
Mint State (MS60 – MS62)$1 – 25$1 – 5
MS62 – MS65+$5- 454 – 20 (DDR error coin goes up to $110)
MS66 & Above$40 – 1,600$10 – 3,200
Highest Auction Record$2,900$13,000 for an MS61 nickel with a silver planchet error

2. 1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Coins

In 1971, Congress asked a local San Francisco mint to strike some half-dollar proof coins for collectors. All the 3,244,183 proof coins struck that year can be spotted with their extra shine and a s-mark on the obverse.

So, if you want to know if your 1971 half-dollar is a proof coin, look for the following features:

  • Shiny, mirror finish with a frosted, high-contrast President’s profile
  • Unique ‘S-mint mark’ on the obverse, under the President’s cameo
  • A 100% copper core with nickel cladding
  • Deeply engraved and bold motifs

1971 half dollar proof coins also have the three variations based on their strikes: regular strike, cameo strike (medium contrast between the reliefs and foreground) & Deep Cameo strike (high contrast between the reliefs and field). Now, let’s check their values below:

Proof Coin’s Grade / Condition 1971-S 50C(Regular Strike)1971-S 50C CAM(Cameo Coin)1971-S 50C DCAM(Deep Cameo Coin)
Mint State (MS 65 – 70)$5 – 90$5 – 100$30 – 1200
Highest Auction Record$1,821 (a PR67 coin with a Double Die Error)$907.50$12,000 (a PR 69 grade coin)

3. 1971 Half Dollars Mintage & Rarity

1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Mintage & Rarity

1971 Kennedy half dollars have a high mintage, about 457,737,424 coins in total, of which 155,164,000 are from Philadelphia, while the rest 302,097,424 belong to the Denver mint.

And that’s why these coins don’t cost more, just 60 cents – $4, unless in a mint or uncirculated state.

4. 1971 Kennedy Half Dollars Errors

Since the 1971 Kennedy dollars were made in different mints and at a faster speed than other coins, they witnessed many composition and planchet errors. Some of them are:

1. 1971-D 40% Silver Planchet Error: This is one of the most unique & expensive errors in coinage history! It’s so that the makers accidentally left 40% silver planchets instead of copper and nickel in the half-dollar mill. 

And thus, a new set of 1971 Kennedy half dollars, each with mixed-up planchets and 40% silver cladding, was produced. And today, these sell for up to $13,000 in original, mint condition.

2. The Nickel Planchet Error: This error is prominent in most Denver-made coins, wherein a smaller, 100% nickel planchet with less diameter and weight was used to stamp the coins. Thus, most of the outer design was cut, making such coins rare & desirable today!

3. Off-Center Strike: If President Kennedy’s Cameo isn’t exactly in the center, or if most of the design is missing, it might be an off-center strike error. And the more the error, the higher the value, the highest being a 95% off strike.

4. Double Die Error: If you see doubled or tripled numbers on your coin or the edges are too thick or bold, the coin might have a double die error. Also, you might see two to three die and planchet marks or a dual-glare edge with this error.

1971 Kennedy Half Dollar Proof Value

How Do You Identify a Real 1971 Kennedy Half-Dollar Coin?

1971 Kennedy half-dollar coins have many counterfeits, some with a different font or fake cladding. But that’s not all! Here are some more FAKE features that will help you identify if your Kennedy half-dollar is real or not:

  • Blurry details, lettering, and dates
  • Might have a whitish zinc finish
  • No ‘s’ or ‘d’ marks on the obverse
  • Different in size and weight than the original 1971 Kennedy coin
  • Different kerning for the ‘LIBERTY’ word

What Makes a 1971 Kennedy Half-Dollar Rare?

Despite a high mintage, the unique planchet or silver-cladding errors of most 1971 Kennedy half-dollar coins make them rare and valuable, costing over $6,000 in mint condition.

How Much Does a 1971, No Mint Mark Kennedy Half Dollar Cost?

Though a 1971 half dollar’s value changes with its grade, you can expect a price of $0.6 – 10 for those with a good, fine, and MS 60 or 64 grade, while coins with a grade of MS 67 or more cost up to $2,000.

Despite its high mintage, people love collecting the 1971 & 1964 Kennedy half-dollars for their memorial obverse, national seal motifs, and unique copper cores. So, if you have this half dollar in your coin collection, use my guide to identify the anomalies & mint marks for the right value!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *