The Kennedy Half Dollar was created to memorialize President John F. Kennedy. The mintages for the coin were immense in the early years of the series as many members of the public saved the coin as a memento. Over the years, this actually led to a decline in use for the denomination, which resulted in dwindling mintages for the duration of the series, which continues to the present day.
The Capped Bust Half Dollar was designed by John Reich. A similar design was used on most other circulating silver coinage for the next several decades, providing a uniform appearance. The mintages for this denomination were relatively high as the half dollar had become a staple within the currency system, since silver dollars ceased being produced in 1804.
The second design issued for the denomination, the Draped Bust Half Dollar was issued from 1796 to 1807. During this time the reverse design of the coins was changed, creating two distinct subtypes. The initial reverse featuring a small eagle had an extremely limited mintage, making it an important type coin. The second reverse type featuring a heraldic eagle is relatively more available.
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was first released in 1916, following a contest held to select a new design for the denomination. The winner of the contest was Adolph A. Weinman, who created a striking and iconic image of Liberty to grace the new half dollar. The obverse features Liberty’s full figure, walking towards the left. One hand holds olive branches and the other is outstretched. The reverse design features an eagle with wings raised in a confident stance.
The Franklin Half Dollar was introduced in 1948, replacing the prior depiction of Liberty. The coin was designed by John Sinnock, who had also created the new design for the ten cent denomination a few years earlier. The obverse of the Franklin Half Dollar features a right-facing portrait of Benjamin Franklin. The reverse of the coin features a large, central depiction of the Liberty Bell. A diminutive eagle with wings outstretched apperas to the right of the bell.