Coin Specifications

Category: Modern Commemoratives (1982-Date)
Mint: Denver
Mintage: 2,210,458
Catalog: KM-208
Obverse Designer: Elizabeth Jones
Reverse Designer: Matthew Peloso
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $5.10 (11/27/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1982 D WASHINGTON 50C MS obverse 1982 D WASHINGTON 50C MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The popularity of the 1976 USA Bicentennial coin program eased the way for Congress to consider a new series of commemorative coins exclusively for collectors. This subject had been off the table since 1954, when the last such coins were minted. Past programs had been plagued by various abuses, mostly resulting from the fact that the money raised from their sales went to private organizations of sometimes questionable merit. Any new commemorative programs would have to incorporate certain safeguards against a repeat of this scenario.

The approach in 1982 of the 250th anniversary of George Washington’s birth seemed like a subject for commemoration that was both worth and politically neutral, and a bill to strike silver half dollars was passed into law on December 23, 1981. Unlike with many programs of the past, sales of these coins would be handled by the U. S. Mint itself, with all profits going directly into the U. S. Treasury toward reduction of the federal debt. In addition, production of this issue would be limited to just a single date, with one mint coining the proof edition and one other striking the uncirculated version. This answered a common complaint associated with many of the earlier programs, wherein the same coin type would be issued by multiple mints year after year.

Utilizing its own resources entirely, the Mint’s chief engraver, Elizabeth Jones, created the obverse for the new coin, while its reverse was a collaborative effort between Jones and Matthew Peloso, also of the Mint’s staff. Jones prepared a handsome, facing portrait of our first president on horse back, while the reverse of this coin features a superb perspective view of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia. As was traditional for most USA commemorative coins, this entry was a silver half dollar, and it provided excellent continuity between the old and new programs.

Uncirculated examples were coined at the Denver Mint (‘D’ mintmark to the right of the horse), while San Francisco (‘S’) produced the proof edition. Offered at reasonable prices, sales of both coins were brisk. The program was widely heralded as an artistic and public relations success, though there was one fly in the ointment. While Congress did limit the number of different issues and the year of coinage, it failed to limit the sales period. Still being offered by the Mint as late as 1986, the 1982-dated Washington Halves were sold in such large numbers that they became a drug in the aftermarket. It was not until the fairly recent boom in modern USA coinage that these coins finally gained some respect.

When the market developed for modern commemoratives graded and encapsulated by certification services, it became evident to everyone what only specialists had known before—that the uncirculated edition of the Washington Half Dollar is genuinely scarce in high grades. Unlike later commemoratives, which were very carefully handled by the Mint, this issue was subject to the numerous marks seen on ordinary circulating coins. This had made the Mint State Washington Half Dollar among the keys to completing a high-grade series or registry set.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/26/2014

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

Base $ - - - - - - - - - 10.80 12.50 13.75 15.00 16.25 17.50 18.75 25.00 120 -

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Total Graded: 4483
Low Grade: 63
Average Grade: 66
High Grade: 69

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/21/2008 NGC MS 68   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 223, 229/Lot# 5835 $34.00
4/22/2009 PCGS MS 69   Teletrade Auction 2683, 2683/Lot# 1641 $414.00
7/12/2012 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions Thursday Modern Coin Auctions Session(1), 241229/Lot# 19063 $16.00
2/22/2013 PCGS MS 67   Stack's Bowers The March 2013 Baltimore Auction, 181/Lot# 8413 $35.25
6/9/2013 PCGS MS 68   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/09/2013, 78/Lot# 117618 $22.00
1/26/2014 PCGS MS 69   Goldberg January 26-28, 2014 January Pre-Long Beach Sale 17.5% BP, 78/Lot# 1501 $141.00
9/7/2014 PCGS MS 67   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/07/2014, 191/Lot# 181366 $17.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1982 D WASHINGTON 50C MS
1982 D WASHINGTON 50C MS Prooflike
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 69
Points: 534
Owner: Bruce Laquster
Grade: MS 69
Points: 534
View the Registry Image Gallery

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