Half-dollar coins once saw heavy use, particularly in the first half of the 20th century.
By the early 1960s, the rising price of silver neared the point where the bullion value of U.S. silver coins would exceed face value. In 1965, the U.S. introduced layered-composition coins made of a pure copper core sandwiched between two cupronickel outer faces. The silver content of dimes and quarters was eliminated, but the Kennedy half-dollar composition contained silver (reduced from 90% to 40%) from 1965 to 1970. Even with its reduced silver content, the half dollar attracted widespread interest from speculators and collectors, and that interest led to widespread hoarding of half dollars dated 1970 and earlier. In 1971, the half's composition was changed to match that of the clad dimes and quarters, and with an increase in production, the coin saw a modest increase in usage; By this time however, many businesses and the public had began to lose interest in the coin and it gradually became scarce in circulation later in the 1970s. Merchants stopped ordering half dollars from their banks, and many banks stopped ordering half dollars from the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. mints sharply reduced production of the coins.
Since 2002, half dollars have been minted only for collectors, due to large Federal Reserve and government inventories on hand of pre-2001 pieces; this is mostly due to lack of demand and large quantity returns from casino slot machines that now operate "coinless".
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