The United States Mint has under consideration six different multicoin options to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy half dollar in 2014.
Among the possibilities, from which two options could be selected, is a four-coin set containing Reverse Proof 2014 90 percent silver half dollars struck at each of the four production facilities, in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver and West Point.
Mint officials are also considering a second four-coin option, two three-coin options and two two-coin options.
All the ideas suggested would include an informational booklet tracing the history of the Kennedy half dollar, which was authorized by Congress slightly more than a month after the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The four-coin set is one of several options referenced in a Kennedy Half Dollar Special Set Survey launched April 11 by the U.S. Mint’s internal market research team in conjunction with the Mint’s research partner, National Analysts Worldwide, headquartered in Philadelphia.
Tom Jurkowsky, the U.S. Mint’s director of the Office of Public Affairs, said April 18 that the survey is being conducted among both customers and noncustomers to obtain feedback about several Kennedy half dollar set options under consideration.
“The options ... are just that — options that we are researching in an effort to get feedback,” Jurkowsky said. “There’s no guarantee, of course, that any of these would interest customers. We are contemplating on producing two sets — high-end and low-end — with various coin combinations. We really need to see the feedback before we commit ourselves to a given direction.”
In addition to the possible four-coin set of Reverse Proof coins, other options under consideration are:
➤ A four-coin set containing three Proof copper-nickel clad half dollars (one each from the West Point, Philadelphia and Denver Mints) plus one 90 percent silver Reverse Proof half dollar from the San Francisco Mint.
➤ A three-coin set containing one copper-nickel Proof half dollar, one copper-nickel clad Reverse Proof coin, and one copper-nickel clad Uncirculated half dollar. Each would bear a Mint mark (P, D, W or S) reflecting where it is minted, although final decisions on minting locations haven’t yet been made.
➤ A three-coin set containing one 90 percent silver Proof half dollar, one 90 percent silver Reverse Proof coin and one 90 percent silver Uncirculated half dollar. Each would bear a Mint mark (P, D, W or S) reflecting where it is minted, although final decisions on minting locations haven’t yet been made.
➤ A two-coin set featuring one Proof copper-nickel clad half dollar and one Reverse Proof copper-nickel clad half dollar. Each would bear a Mint mark (P, D, W or S) reflecting where it is minted, although final decisions on minting locations haven’t yet been made.
➤ A two-coin set featuring one Proof 90 percent silver half dollar and one Reverse Proof 90 percent silver half dollar. Each would bear a Mint mark (P, D, W or S) reflecting where it is minted, although final decisions on minting locations haven’t yet been made.
Legislation introduced to authorize production of the Kennedy half dollar received congressional approval on Dec. 30, 1963, and was quickly signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Even before the coin was authorized, work was already under way on coinage dies. Contemplating possible production of the Kennedy half dollar, U.S. Mint Director Eva Adams had contacted Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts about the pending legislation.
For the half dollar obverse, Roberts modified his portrait of Kennedy that the engraver had executed for the Kennedy medal in the Mint’s Presidential Series. Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro worked on modifications to the reverse of the same medal, featuring the presidential seal, for adaptation on the coin’s reverse.
The quick modifications to existing designs permitted the completion of the first dies on Jan. 2, 1964.
The initial production comprised Proof versions struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
The first Kennedy half dollars intended for circulation were struck in 90 percent silver at the Denver Mint on Jan. 30, 1964.
The Philadelphia Mint began execution of its first production for circulation the following week.
The Treasury Department made the circulating coins available to the public beginning on March 24, 1964. ■