From 1970 and earlier, half dollar coins minted for circulation within the United States contained silver. Across various different series, these coins may be bought and sold as junk silver, at prices based on the market value of the silver content. From 1964 and earlier, the half dollars were struck with a composition of 90% silver, which yields 0.36169 troy ounces of pure silver. From 1965 to 1970, half dollars were struck with a composition of 40% silver, which yields 0.1479 troy ounces of pure silver.
40% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars
While lower denominations had the silver content completely removed after 1964, the half dollar contained silver until 1970. From 1965 until 1970, the Kennedy Half Dollar was struck with a composition including 40% silver. During this time, production took place at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. Generally, only coins dated from 1965 to 1969 will be found amongst junk silver, since the 1970-dated coins were only issued within collector sets and carry a premium due to the lower mintage.
90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollars
The Kennedy Half Dollar was introduced in 1964, shortly following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Although the series has continued to be issued through the present day, the coins were only issued for a single year with a composition of 90% silver. The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars were struck in large numbers at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mint. Because of the high mintages, circulated and even lower mint state examples of the coin may be considered junk silver and valued based solely on the silver content.
90% Silver Franklin Half Dollars
Designed by John R. Sinnock, the Franklin Half Dollar was issued form 1948 to 1963. For each year, production took place at the Philadelphia Mint, while production was intermittent at the San Francisco and Denver Mints. As a more modern series, the coins generally only carry numismatic premiums when they are in higher grades. Accordingly, circulated examples of most dates and mint marks for the series can be found amongst bags or groups of junk silver coins.
90% Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollars
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was designed by Adolph A. Weinman and introduced in 1916. The coins would eventually be produced until 1947, with coins struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints. Many consider these coins to feature one of the most beautiful designs within American coinage. During the lengthy duration of the series, there were numerous higher mintage issues, particularly in the 1940's.
90% Silver Barber Half Dollars
The Barber Half Dollar was struck from 1892 to 1915 at the Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints. Due to their age, many coins from this series will have a numismatic value greater than the silver value and would not be considered junk silver. However, higher mintage dates in well worn condition may be considered junk silver, and accordingly bought and sold at prices based on the silver content.