How Much Is A 1981 Half Dollar Worth?

Last Updated on October 28, 2022

Are you looking to find out the value of your 1981 Half Dollar? We’ve got you covered in this quick and straightforward guide.

Let’s uncover the facts and specifications that determine the value of your coin!


How Much Is A 1981 Half Dollar Worth?

Depicting one of the United States’ most famous presidents- the 1981 half dollar is relatively popular amongst collectors. Most half dollars from this year are valued at $0.50, but some can be worth $1,782!

Congress quickly approved a redesigning of the half dollar to honor President John F. Kennedy shortly after his assassination in 1963. Replacing the previously circulated Franklin half-dollar, the new Kennedy half-dollar began circulating in 1964.

US citizens began collecting Kennedy half dollars as souvenirs and keepsakes. Due to this, the half-dollar coin was not commonly circulated by the early 1980s. Today, this makes the coins harder to find.

When determining the value of your 1981 half dollar, you will need to consider several factors. Determining the grade, the current quality of your coin, and its composition will help you uncover the value of your coin.

Half Dollar Grading System

Half Dollar Grade System Half Dollar Abbreviation
Very Fine = Moderate to minor wear VF 20
Extremly Fine = Slightest of wear EF 40
About Uncirculated = minor traces of wear & mint luster is complete AU 50
Mint State 60 = No traces of any wear MS 60
Mint State 63 = Original mint and luster MS 63
Mint State 65 = Full luster no trace of wear MS 65

When deciding the value of your half-dollar, the first step will be determining the quality of your coin. Consider the following when deciding what category your coin belongs to:

  • Very Fine (VF) – On the face side of the coin, you will see spots on the hair and face of Kennedy. His hairline may have details, but the outline of his hairline is faint. On the reverse, the tail feathers are plain, and wear and tear are evident.
  • Extremely Fine (EF) – The face side of the coin will appear with some slight wear. Details should appear sharp and noticeable. The coin’s reverse side will have arrows and wing tips slightly worn down.
  • About Uncirculated (AU) – On both sides of the coin, only trace amounts of wear should be visible. The luster should still be primarily present.
  • Uncirculated (MS 60) – On both sides of the coin, there should be zero signs of wear. Minor blemishes may be visible. The coin has full luster but may appear a bit dull.
  • Select Uncirculated (MS 63) – Both sides of the coin contain zero traces of wear. Light blemishes may be present, and the coin possesses a beautiful luster.
  • Choice Uncirculated (MS 65) – No trace of any wear. This coin has a full mint luster.

Clad Composition Half Dollars

In 1981, the US minted a total of 61,446,616 clad composition half-dollars. All clad composition half-dollars have a metal composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.

Minted in two cities, clad composition half-dollars were the most commonly produced variety.

  • Minted in Philadelphia: 29,544,000
  • Minted in Denver: 27,839,533

Proof Coin Half Dollars

Proof coins are typically more valuable than the more commonly produced clad composition coins. The 1981 half-dollar proof coins were created with a 75% pure Copper center and covered with 25% Nickel.

Proof half-dollar coins were minted in San Francisco. What was produced was 4,063,083 coins of two varieties- Type 1 and Type 2. Compared to other varieties, San Francisco coins are more valuable due to containing more errors. The 1981-S Type 2 proof half-dollar holds the most value. Approximately 314,000 of this type were minted.

1981 Half Dollar Errors

Half Dollar coins that contain any errors are worth considerably more money. Here are some errors to possibly look for when examining your half-dollar.

  • 1981 S-Proof Clear S: these coins are minted with the letter “S” and have a more curvy, bulbous end to the letter S. These coins are typically valued at around $20.00, but can auction off to well over $1,700!
  • 1981 S-Proof Flat S: these coins are minted with the letter “S” and the letter is flatter and closer to the surface of the coin. It has a much flatter appearance as compared to the Clear S variety. These coins are commonly valued at around $4.52.

1981 Kennedy Half Dollar Value Chart

Once you’ve determined the type and grade of your half-dollars, you can approximate how much your coin is worth.

Today, some of the Kennedy half-dollars are incredibly valuable!

Approximate Values of 1981 Kennedy Half Dollars
Coin condition 1981-P 1981-D 1981-SP

Type 1

1981- SP

Type 2

G 4 $0.50 $0.50 / /
VG 8 $0.50 $0.50 / /
F 12 $0.50 $0.50 / /
VF 20 $0.50 $0.50 / /
EF 40 $0.50 $0.50 / /
AU 55 $0.50 $0.50 / /
MS 60 $1.50 $1.50 $1.50 $1.50
MS 63 $10.00 $20.00 $25.00 $345.00
MS 65 $290.00 $400.00 $37.00 $1,782

(Many of these values can also be found here.)

Jackie Palmer is a Houston-based coin journalist and fashion enthusiast. She joined Jewels Advisor’s content team after years of experience as a content strategist, managing blogs and social channels for local stores. Jackie mostly collects and studies US coins produced during the 20th century and over the years, published hundreds of articles for multiple coin publications.