One of this year’s most eagerly anticipated releases from the U.S.
Mint is a special version of the Kennedy half dollar being issued to
commemorate the coin’s 50th anniversary.
While it has been reported that a .9999 fine gold version of the
half dollar struck at the West Point Mint will be offered, the United
States Mint has made no official announcement of the program nor set
any release date. Details about this coin are scant at best.
But how much do you know about the Kennedy half dollar, which turns
50 this year? Following is part one of a survey of the series’ highlights:
Congress authorized the Kennedy half dollar on Dec. 30, 1963, just
five weeks after the president’s death. The first coins struck were
Mint Chief U.S. Mint Engraver Gilroy Robert’s original design; the
coins had deeply incised hair detail. Today, these coins are known as
1964 Kennedy, Accented Hair half dollars. Shortly into production, the
design was modified and the hair detail softened.
In 1964, Proof set sales soared to record levels, owing to demand
for the last 90 percent silver coins and the new Kennedy coin. Nearly
4 million sets were sold. But only about 120,000 coins, 3 percent of
the Proof 1964 Kennedy half dollar mintage, are thought to be the
Accented Hair variety. They are highly coveted today.
A popular variety also emerges from the coins issued for circulation
this year. The 1964-D/D half dollar shows a prominently doubled Mint
mark, one of the best repunched Mint marks among all modern U.S.
coinage. In 1965, as 90 percent silver coinage was replaced with
copper-nickel clad, a special provision was made for the half dollar.
It would be struck in silver-copper clad (40 percent silver) until
1970 to help relieve hoarding pressure for those who desired silver
coinage. Several important Kennedy half dollars were produced in this era.
First among the circulation issues is the 1970-D half dollar. To
meet demand for silver, some 672 million Kennedy half dollars were
struck for circulation from 1967 through 1969. That was enough. By
1970, demand abated and the 1970-D half dollar was struck solely for
inclusion in Uncirculated Mint sets and not for circulation, the first
such noncirculating coin of the modern era. It has a mintage of only
2.15 million pieces.
A key condition rarity also can be found among the halves of this
era, the 1969-D half dollar. In 1969, the entire burden of producing
Kennedy half dollars fell to the Denver Mint. Although they churned
out 130 million coins, today gem Uncirculated examples are considered
scarce. Mishandling, mushy strikes and yellow-spotting — typical for
these silver-copper clad coins — all limit their grades. Superb gem
(Mint State-67) examples trade for thousands of dollars.
Next: Special Mint set coins and key copper-nickel clad issues.