The Kennedy half dollar is one of the most popular US coins ever minted – both historically and in terms of sheer numbers in circulation to this day. It’s also quite valuable for collectors as the Kennedy half dollar has had many different variants, metal compositions, and other subtypes over the years.
The Kennedy 1965 half dollar is one prime example of that. 1965 was only the second year this coin was minted yet the US Mint had already started making changes to the original. So, let’s take a deeper look at the 1965 half dollar and see what makes it special and why it might be worth your attention.
1965 Half Dollar Value Chart
|Mint mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1965 Half Dollar With No Mint Mark||$4.75 to $5.25||$5 to $6.50||$20 to $55||$210 to $2,650 and above|
|1965 Half Dollar Special Mint Set||$4.75 to $5.25||$5 to $7.50||$10 to $47||$71 to $300 and above|
The only US Mint working on regular half dollars in 1965 was the Denver Mint. There were no proof coins minted that year either which is why there is only one main variant of the 1965 half dollar – the Denver no-mint-mark half dollar. As you can see, however, it is quite highly valued – even those with a fair bit of wear and tear on them – going for around $5 or ten times their face value.
If you’re lucky enough to find a 1965 half dollar that’s preserved especially well and has an Extremely Fine quality grade (usually between 60 and 65 on the Sheldon coin grading scale), a coin like that can nab you a price tag of up to $20 or even $55.
For prices even above that, uncirculated 1965 half dollars can cost about $210 if they are in truly great condition and more than ten times that if they have a particularly rare and interesting manufacturing error on them.
There is, however, a second type of 1965 half dollar – the 1965 SMS dollar, i.e. the 1965 Special Mint Set dollar. These coins weren’t used for regular circulation but they weren’t proof coins either. Instead, they were coins that were of better fidelity than the normal circulation coin but they weren’t as intricate and expensive to make as proof coins.
Such SMS coins – of any kind – were used by the US Mint for a while in that period as a replacement for proof coins. In the case of 1965 half dollars, however, the SMS mintage wasn’t of a particularly high quality. So, as you can see in the chart above, 1965 SMS half dollars don’t command prices that much higher than those of regular circulation Denver no-mint-mark half dollars.
Still, in the rare cases that a rare SMS 1965 half dollar can be found in exquisite enough quality, those few coins can rack up especially high prices. A prime example of that is a 1965 half dollar of MS 67 quality that was sold for $12,650.
1965 Half Dollar No Mint Mark Value
The only 1965 half dollar to make it into wide circulation in 1965 was the one made by the Denver Mint. The Philadelphia Mint didn’t make any half dollars that year and the San Francisco Mint didn’t mint any proof coins either, although we’ll come back to that one later.
So, if the Denver 1965 half dollar was “the main” half dollar that year, what was special about it? Well, quite a few things.
For starters, the 1965 half dollar was only the second Kennedy half dollar to ever be minted. As soon as the beloved ex-president was assassinated in late 1963, the US Mint went straight into producing the first Kennedy half dollar in 1964. So, 1965 marks only the second year of that process.
Moreover, the 1965 half dollar made some key changes in the original design. First of all, the 1965 half dollar included only 40% silver compared to the 90% that was a part of the 1964 half dollar. That was done all across other coins by the US Mint in that period to reduce expenditures as silver was getting widely appreciated.
And, even though that sounds as if it should have made 1965 half dollars less valuable, it did the opposite. That’s because what numismatists value about collectible coins isn’t their melting value, it’s their rarity and collectible value.
In other words, as the first Kennedy half dollar to include only 40% silver, as one of the few such half dollars to do so as the US Mint soon transitioned into no-silver coins, and as only the second Kennedy half dollar after the 1964 mintage, the 1965 half dollar holds quite a special place in the minds of collectors.
So, what are the specifics of the 1965 half dollar? Design-wise, it is the same as its predecessor, the 1964 half dollar. The obverse design of John F. Kennedy’s face was made by Gilroy Roberts. It features the left-facing Kennedy with the word “Liberty” overexposed over and around it. The phrase “In God we trust” is directly under Kennedy’s face with the date 1965 is right under it too.
The reverse side was designed by Frank Gasparro. It featured the presidential eagle shield with wings spread wide open and an olive branch in one of the eagle’s legs and a bunch of arrows in the other. All the stars of the Union are circling the eagle with the words “United States of America” over and around them and “Half Dollar” directly under it.
As with the previous Kennedy half dollar, the 1965 coin had a weight of 11.5 oz, a diameter of 30.6 mm, and a reeded edge. The first and main difference was that the silver contents had been switched from 90% to 40%. A grand total of 65,879,366 such coins were minted in Denver.
Another noteworthy difference was that the 1964 half dollar was minted for wide circulation by both the Denver and the Philadelphia Mints. The Denver Mint back then used the “D” mint mark while the Philly Mint, as was the tradition for it, didn’t place any mint marks on its coins.
In 1965, however, not only did the Philadelphia Mint not make any half dollars but the Denver Mint made the unorthodox decision not to add any mint marks on its own half dollar coins. So, while it’s quite normal to see a half dollar with no mint mark and assume that it was made by the Philadelphia Mint, 1065 half dollars didn’t have mint marks either but they were made by the Denver Mint.
With all those specifics out of the way, it shouldn’t be surprising that 1965 no-mint-mark half dollars typically command pretty respectable prices today.
Even just a “Good” quality Denver-made 1965 half dollar will have a price that’s ten times its face value, and much higher if it’s of great quality and includes some rare errors. The chief factor in all of this, however, is that there were only a few years during which 40%-silver half dollars were minted, which makes them quite rare and historically valuable.
1965 Half Dollar Special Mint Set Value
The second notable half dollar variant minted in 1965 was the SMS half dollar minted in San Francisco. This “Special Mint Set” is relatively unique for the US Mint as it was the temporary replacement of the traditional proof coins.
Proof coins were special high-quality versions of ordinary circulation coins that were minted to serve as “proof” against fakes and counterfeit coins. Naturally, as with all rare coins, proof coins quickly turned into valuable collectible items that the Mint used for its own profit.
The problem was that proof coins were also more expensive to make. So, the US Mint had briefly turned away from proof coins and toward Special Mint Set coins for a while in an attempt to reduce expenditures while still offering a special set of coins for collectors.
The one tiny hitch in this process was that the SMS coins weren’t nearly as good quality-wise as the old proof coins and they were barely better than regular circulation 1965 half dollars. So, while they were still more expensive to make – just not as much as proof coins – they didn’t command nearly as high of a price.
In fact, in the case of the 1965 half dollar, the vast majority of SMS coins were actually less valuable than their Denver-made no-mint-mark 1965 half dollar counterparts. There are the occasional exceptions, of course – the highest-selling 1965 half dollar is an SMS dollar, as we mentioned above – however, the average prices for 1965 SMS half dollars are lower for those of 1965 no-mint-mark half dollars.
1965 Half Dollar Grading
Despite all their unique aspects, 1965 half dollars are graded in more or less the exact same fashion as all other coins – based on how preserved they are and based on whether or not they have certain production errors or other unique features that may make them more valuable.
So, while, 1965 half dollars have plenty of features that make them more desirable than other coins, at the end of the day, they are graded just like any other coin. If you’re looking for a more visual representation of what grading a 1965 half dollar looks like, here’s an interesting video about that.
Lists of 1965 Half Dollar Errors
As with any other coin, the second chief factor a numismatist looks at is the presence of unique and interesting manufacturing errors in the coin that make it more unique and valuable. Now, not all manufacturing errors are created equal – some, even if they are unique, are way too unappealing to be worth anything.
Instead, the types of coin errors that increase the value of a certain piece are those that are both rare and visually appealing. Here are a few visual examples but we’ll also list a few types of errors to look out for below:`
1965 Half Dollar Misaligned Error
Misaligned errors occur whenever the die presses aren’t properly aligned. In those cases, the die can get rotated, tilted, or offset. Most commonly, this results in an off-centered obverse and a centered reverse, although other misaligned variations are also possible.
1965 Half Dollar Double Die Error
Double die errors are also possible whenever the steel die strikes twice but shifts slightly in between strikes. When that happens, the die strikes the coin’s planchet in slightly shifted positions. The end result isn’t a perfectly even strike but a somewhat blurry or distorted image.
This can often be difficult to perceive when the shift has been very minimal but it can still be noticed in certain parts of the coin such as the president’s hair, or some of the letters of the inscriptions.
1965 Half Dollar Broad Strike Error
In half dollars, as in other coins, broad strikes are one of the most noteworthy and unique errors. This happens when the coin has been struck out of the collar die and has been pressed more than what was expected. In those cases, the coin generally gets wide than normal while still being just as heavy.
For a “good” or a “true” broad strike to be valuable, the die should still have properly printed both the obverse and the reverse of the coin.
1965 Half Dollar FAQ
How do you know if you have a rare 1965 Half Dollar?
Quality and production errors are the chief factors determining the value and rarity of a 1965 half dollar. If the dollar you have hasn’t been in wide circulation and is of good enough quality, and if it has certain rare and identifiable errors on it, it may well be valued in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Do 1965 half dollars have any silver in them?
Unlike most Kennedy half dollars in circulation today, the 1965 half dollar does have silver in it – 40% silver, to be precise. This is less than the 90% silver in the original 1964 Kennedy half dollar but is still way more than the 0% silver in all Kennedy half dollars made after 1970.