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Within a few days of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Mint Director Eva Adams notified Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts of the Treasury Department’s intent to place Kennedy’s portrait on one of the U.S. silver coins. The tragic death of the dynamic and popular President was to result in the renaming of many public buildings and roads after him, and the same expression of grief created a desire to honor the slain President on a coin.

Kennedy Silver Half Dollar

Excluding Sales Tax
  • A left-facing portrait of Kennedy, slightly high on the flan, occupies the center of the obverse. The word LIBERTY, BER partially obscured by the top of Kennedy’s head, follows to the inside of the flat rim around slightly more than the top half of the coin. The date is at bottom, with widely spaced numerals concentric to the rim. IN GOD WE TRUST, in two sections separated by the tip of the neck, is in a horizontal line above the date. On the neck truncation is a monogram of Gilroy Robert’s initials GR. The reverse displays the Presidential Coat of Arms in the center: an eagle with outstretched wings, shield over the body, left claw (viewer’s right) holding a bundle of arrows, the right an olive branch, and in its beak the end of a curved banner displaying E PLURIBUS UNUM. Between the left wing and the eagle’s head are four tiny five-point stars, joined by nine more in an arc above the banner. Above those nine stars is an arc of thirteen connected dot-like clouds. Extending upward from the top of the eagle through the clouds are sun-like rays. Concentric to the flat rim is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at the top and HALF DOLLAR at the bottom, the two phrases separated by centered dots. Between the text and the eagle is a concentric circle of 50 small five-point stars. Frank Gasparro’s initials FG are between the eagle’s tail and the left leg. Silver Kennedy half dollars were minted at Philadelphia and Denver; the D mintmark is to the left of the bottom tip of the olive branch.
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