None of Kennedy half dollars in two-coin 50th Anniversary set graded Specimen 70

Grading services say coin quality affected by planchet flaws
By , Coin World
Published : 11/21/14
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Planchet flaws are suspected as the reason why none of the coins from the two-coin 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Uncirculated Coin set have been graded Specimen 70 by the three major grading services.

Submission figures released by Professional Coin Grading Service, Numismatic Guaranty Corp., and ANACS indicate the highest grade assigned for the 2014-D or 2014-P Kennedy half dollar in the set is Specimen 69, with the lowest submission grading Specimen 63.

All three grading services are employing Specimen grades rather than Mint State grades since the coins are struck under special circumstances for special sets. 

United States Mint officials were asked about the unusual occurrence — in recent years, the quality of Mint production has resulted in numerous MS-70 and Proof 70 pieces being found among the Mint’s collector products. Officials had not provided a response from the Mint’s technical team as of Nov. 19.

The two-coin Kennedy copper-nickel clad sets are still available at $9.95 each directly from the Mint. The Mint has imposed a product limit of 200,000, with 148,928 sets reported sold by Nov. 16.

The two-coin Kennedy half dollar sets first went on sale from the United States Mint on Aug. 5.

Kennedy’s portrait that appears on the obverse of the half dollars in the two-coin set is the original high-relief portrait Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts executed for the Kennedy half dollar in 1964.

ANACS Senior Numismatist J.P. Martin said that while the dies used to strike the half dollars in the set appear to have been specially handled, resulting in strong strikes, he believes the problem is with the planchets used at the Denver and Philadelphia Mints for production.

Martin said it is likely the Mint used circulation-strike planchets, which usually have a higher concentration of contact marks and other blemishes that aren’t smoothed out during striking.

“The coins are coming from some pretty nice finish dies,” Martin said. “They’re just not treating the blanks like a special issue.”

Martin said he doesn’t believe the Mint is using the coinage press tonnage that they use for a Proof issue and that might “strike out” the planchet imperfections.

Paul DeFelice, vice president of marketing and client relations for ANACS, said Nov. 13 that the grading service is predominantly certifying like-graded two-coin sets.

“We are mostly certifying them in like-graded sets with a requested minimum grade,” said DeFelice. “About 5,000 sets in SP-69, 300 sets in SP-68 have been encapsulated. We have received thousands of other sets that have not met the minimum grade as a set, so they have not been encapsulated.

“Other submitters, not requesting minimum grades, have generally received grades in SP-68 or SP-69, but we have certified examples as low as SP-64.”

PCGS by the numbers

As of Nov. 17, Professional Coin Grading Service had graded 2,135 of the 2014-P Kennedy half dollars from the two-coin set and 2,458 of the 2014-D half dollars.

From the 2,135 2014-P half dollars certified, 91 graded SP-69; 533 graded SP-68; 1,008 were graded SP-67 and 30 graded SP-67+; 415 were graded SP-66 and 13 graded SP-66+; 35 were graded SP-65 and three, SP-65+; six were graded SP-64; and one was graded SP-63.

From the 2,458 of the 2014-D half dollars certified from the two-coin sets, 52 graded SP-69; 368 graded SP-68; 1,228 graded SP-67 and 14 at SP-67+; 724 graded SP-66 and 21 at SP-66+; 46 graded SP-65; and four graded SP-64.

On the Collectors’ Universe U.S. Coins Forum, dealers and collectors alike shared the results of submitting coins from their two-coin sets to PCGS:

Miles Standish, PCGS vice president and senior grader, said many of the two-coin sets PCGS received for grading came in “pretty rough.” 

While a number of the coins in the sets were graded Specimen 68 and Specimen 69, Standish said collectors did not expect coins to be graded Specimen 67 down to Specimen 63.

“These were probably not thought to be a big part of the program for the Mint, like the silver and gold coins,” Standish said, noting not as much effort went into their production. 

“It was an inexpensive way for collectors to obtain a 50th Anniversary set for those who wanted to collect them.”

NGC census

Max Spiegel, vice president of sales and marketing for Certified Collectibles Group, the parent firm to Numismatic Guaranty Corp., said the quality of the two 50th Anniversary copper-nickel clad half dollars in the Uncirculated set is lower than that of the Proof gold 1964–2014-W Kennedy half dollar or the .900 fine silver half dollars in the four-coin 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Silver Coin Collection.

“We have seen numerous marks and planchets issues on the clads, all of which affect the grade,” Spiegel said.

As of Nov. 13, NGC recorded grading 5,049 of the 2014-P 50th Anniversary half dollars and 5,054 of the 2014-D coins.

Of the 2014-P coins, 48 graded SP-69; 627 graded SP-68; 2,961 graded SP-67; 1,327 graded SP-66; 82 graded SP-65; three graded SP-64; and one graded SP-63.

From the 2014-D census, 23 graded SP-69; 569 graded SP-68; 2,962 graded SP-67; 1,409 graded SP-66; 85 graded SP-65; four graded SP-64; and two graded SP-64.

Secondary market

Auction website eBay has recorded recent sales of NGC Specimen 67 coins from the sets selling for $65, with individual Specimen 69 coins selling for $100 or more.

Sales of two-coin sets graded NGC Specimen 69 have sold for $250 and more. Some matched ANACS Specimen 69 sets have been offered for as high as $599 per set.

NGC Specimen 67 Early Release 2014-P and similarly graded 2014-D coins are being retailed for as low as $35 each.

Two-piece PCGS Specimen 67 sets have sold for as low as $65. 

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