If you've ever seen a half dollar, you probably know it shows President John F. Kennedy on the front. But many other designs have appeared on the half-dollar coin over the years.
From 1794 to 1947, the half dollar, like most coins of the time, were made of silver and decorated with the head or form of an imaginary woman who stood for liberty. Then Benjamin Franklin became the face on the front of the half dollar. Although he was never president, like the men on our other coins, Franklin was a major force in shaping the United States of America. Below his bust are the initials of John R. Sinnock, who also sculpted the bust on the Roosevelt dime.
Soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the late president's profile took its place on the half dollar. The liberty bell on the back was replaced by the eagle from the presidential seal except during 1975 and 1976, the nation's 200th birthday. At that time, the coin showed an image of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the site of many important national events, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of our Constitution.
Both the Kennedy and Franklin half dollars have been featured as Coins of the Month. Click the links below to find out more about them.
Teachers! Looking for lessons based on the coins in our pockets? Check out Coin Curricula.