Telling a 1964 Accented Hair Proof Kennedy Half Dollar Apart From Regular Kennedy Halves

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for PCGS ……

The 1964 Accented Hair Kennedy Half Dollar is one of the most sought-after varieties of the long-running Kennedy series. Not only is it a first-year issue, but it was also the first variety of the Proof run and was directly critiqued by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who was widowed when her husband, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. For these reasons, along with a relatively small output, the 1964 Accented Hair Proof Kennedy Half Dollar is highly popular with collectors.

When the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar hit the scene in early 1964, it was widely anticipated by both collectors and non-collectors. It had been rapidly approved for production just weeks after President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963, during a motorcade procession in Dallas, Texas. “Jackie” Kennedy was consulted for the design of the Kennedy Half Dollar and was directly involved in perfecting the design for the new coin.

The Accented Hair design was used for striking Proofs, which were among the very first coins struck bearing the new design. Upon seeing the early Proof strikes, Mrs. Kennedy requested that the hair detail be softened so the strands of hair appeared less prominent. The request was approved by United States Mint officials, and all Proofs struck after that time saw the softer hair detail, resulting in the Accented Hair design becoming a one-year-only type.

The most obvious diagnostic of the Accented Hair design is the heavy hair stranding over Kennedy’s ear on the center of the obverse. However, another way to attribute this variety is to look for a missing detail in the lettering of “LIBERTY”. The letter “I” of “LIBERTY” on the Accented Hair coin will be missing the majority of the lower-left serif, which appears in full on other iterations of the Kennedy Half Dollar. Also absent is the horizontal serif of the letter “G” from Frank Gasparro’s “FG” initials seen on the reverse.

Comparison of a 1964 Accented Hair Proof Kennedy Half Dollar to another of the normal hair design. Image: PCGS.

There are no firm numbers on exactly how many 1964 Accented Hair Proof Kennedy Half Dollars were struck, but estimates suggest only between 50,000 to 100,000 rolled off the presses. That means the Accented Hair design accounts for less than 5% of the entire Proof mintage run of 3,950,762 examples. Values for this scarce type range from about $50 to $75 for a typical example in the range of PR63 to PR65. However, superb examples graded PR68 or higher can fetch $350 or more. One of the highest prices ever achieved by this coveted Kennedy Half Dollar rarity was realized at a September 2017 Heritage Auctions event, when a gorgeous example graded PR68DCAM crossed the block for a sensational $17,400.

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Deb Morgan has been a coin collector since she was young. She loves researching and reporting news about the numismatic community, and also about bullion coins, including silver, gold, platinum and palladium.

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