US Coins

2023 half dollars mintage suggests Federal Reserve ordered coins

The number of 2023-P and 2023-D Kennedy half dollars struck seem to suggest that the Federal Reserve has ordered the coins for release into circulation. Numismatic products that contain 2023 Kennedy half dollars went on public sale May 15.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint.

The difference between the overall number of 2023-P and 2023-D Kennedy half dollars struck in circulation finish by the U.S. Mint and the numbers of them sold at numismatic premiums above face value suggest that the Federal Reserve has ordered coins from the bureau for general circulation distribution.

As of June 21, circulation quality Kennedy half dollar production for 2023 posted at the U.S. Mint’s website records 5.4 million coins from each of the two Mint production facilities, a total of 10.8 million Kennedy half dollars.

Numismatic products that contain 2023 Kennedy half dollars went on public sale May 15 and include $100 face value canvas bags of 200 half dollars, comprising 100 coins from each Mint, offered at $147 per bag, and two-roll sets priced at $34.50, comprising one 20-coin roll from each Mint.

The 200-coin bags are limited to sales of a maximum of 11,000 bags, and two-roll set sales are limited to 25,000 sets.

As of June 18, bag sales reached 7,655 bags, while two-roll set totals were at 26,689. Those numismatic sale totals account for 2,598,560 coins from the overall circulation quality Kennedy half dollar output, or about 25% of the total.

Circulation finish

Until recently, 2001 was considered the final year the U.S. Mint intentionally struck Kennedy half dollars for general circulation, with 21.2 million coins produced at the Philadelphia Mint and 19,504,000 halves at the Denver facility. However, Mint officials confirmed that, in both 2021 and 2022, the Federal Reserve ordered half dollars for circulation.

Coin World contacted Mint officials for comment about the destination of 2023 production, but as of 2 p.m. June 21, the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications had not confirmed production of half dollars for general circulation in 2023. Questions remain whether and how many coins have been shipped from the Denver and Philadelphia facilities to the Federal Reserve’s contracted armored carriers who deliver coins to banks that have ordered them.

A comparison of annual mintage figures from 2016 to 2021 could support beliefs readers have expressed that 2018 half dollars were also placed into circulation by the Federal Reserve. Mintages for the 2018 coins at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints show a huge increase from 2016 and 2017 totals. Mintages dropped to typical levels — what might be expected for numismatic sales — in 2019. Mintages in 2020 rose above 2016, 2017 and 2019 levels. A coin shortage began in 2020; whether the 2018 increases was driven by circulation needs remains unclear in the absence of additional information from the Mint and Federal Reserve.

The 2016 mintages were reported at 2.1 million half dollars for each Mint. The 2017 mintages were at similar levels, at 2.9 million coins for the Denver Mint and 1.8 million half dollars for the Philadelphia Mint.

A significant increase in production was registered in 2018: 6.1 million half dollars at the Denver Mint and 4.8 million coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The figures seem hard to explain if accommodating just numismatic sales, and the circulation finds by collectors of 2018 Kennedy half dollars would seem to support the thought that a portion of the production was for circulation.

Mintages in 2019 fell off to 1.7 million pieces per Mint, suggesting that most if not all were for numismatic sales.

In 2020, mintages rose to 3.4 million Denver Mint coins and 2.3 million Philadelphia Mint half dollar strikes.

In 2021, production totaled 7.7 million half dollars struck at the Denver Mint and 5.4 million pieces at the Philadelphia Mint, the increased production being the result of confirmed orders from the Federal Reserve. Numismatic sales accounted for 1,993,600 coins, from sales of 9,968 of the 200-coin mixed bags and 879,600 coins from the sale of 21,990 two-roll sets.

In 2022, output totaled 9.7 million circulation quality Kennedy half dollars — 4.9 million at the Denver Mint and 4.8 million at the Philadelphia Mint. Sales of the 200-coin mixed bags of 2022 coins were limited to 11,000 bags, offered at $147 per bag. In total, 10,999 bags were recorded sold, totaling 2,199,800 coins. Two-roll set sales were limited to 22,000 sets at $34.50 per set; the 21,926 sets recorded sold total 877,040 coins. At least some of the remaining production went to fill orders from the Federal Reserve.

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