The half dollar is the United States’ 50-cent coin. The person on the obverse (heads) of the half dollar is John F. Kennedy, our 35th president. He’s been on the half dollar since 1964.
The design on the reverse (tails) is from the Presidential Seal. It shows an eagle holding an olive branch in its left talon and 13 arrows in its right. In front of the eagle is a shield. A ring of 50 stars surrounds the design. The design is full of symbols that mean other things. The eagle is our national bird. The olive branch symbolizes peace and the arrows represent war. There are 50 stars for each of the 50 states.
Half Dollar History
The U.S. Mint made the first half dollar in 1794. It was made of silver. For more than 150 years, a woman representing liberty was shown in various poses on the obverse of the half dollar. An eagle was on the reverse.
In 1948, an image of Benjamin Franklin replaced the figure of Liberty. Although he was never president, like the other people on our coins, Franklin did a lot of work to help shape the country.
In 1964, the Mint switched the half dollar design to honor President John F. Kennedy who died the year before. He has been on the obverse ever since.
The reverse has shown the Presidential Seal design except in 1975 and 1976. During those years, the reverse showed a building named Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s the site of many important national events, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence and writing the U.S. Constitution. The special design was in celebration of our country’s 200th birthday.
Learn about other circulating coins.