Obverse: The obverse shows a portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the youngest-ever-elected president. United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Gilroy Roberts based this profile on a portrait prepared for Kennedy's presidential medal. Roberts created this design immediately after Kennedy's assassination.
Reverse: The design on the back of Kennedy half dollar, by United States Mint Scupltor-Engraver Frank Gasparro, is based on the presidential seal. It consists of a heraldic eagle with a shield on its breast, holding a symbolic olive branch and a bundle of 13 arrows. A ring of 50 stars surrounds the design, which gives this coin the distinction of having more stars than any other circulating coin.
From 1794 to 1947, the half dollar, like many coins of the time, were made of silver and decorated with an allegorical image that symbolized liberty. In 1948, Benjamin Franklin’s likeness was placed on the obverse of the half dollar. Although he was never president, like the men on most of our other coins, Franklin was a major force in shaping the United States of America.
The liberty bell, which had been on the reverse of Franklin's half dollar, 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: the meeting place for the Second Continental Congress, George Washington’s appointment as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775, adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, agreement of the final design of the American flag in 1777, adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, and the drafting of the United States Constitution in 1787.