US Coins

Bills call for John F. Kennedy commemorative coin

John F. Kennedy has been depicted on the half dollar since 1964 and is featured on a 2015 Presidential dollar. Legislation before Congress seeks a commemorative silver dollar for Kennedy in 2020.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday was in May this year, but legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress that seeks a 2020 commemorative silver dollar honoring the president slain in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Kennedy has been featured on the half dollar since 1964 and on a Presidential dollar issued in 2015 — and hundreds of medals and world coins — but he may now make an appearance on a U.S. commemorative coin if the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Coin Act becomes law.

Two measures, H.R. 3274 in the House of Representatives and S. 1568 in the Senate, seek a 2020 silver dollar celebrating the centennial of Kennedy’s birth on May 29, 1917.

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In a “Dear Colleague” letter dated July 18, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., co-sponsors of the House bill, said: “As members of the John F. Kennedy Centennial Commission, we write to urge you to cosponsor H.R. 3274, the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Coin Act. In honor of President Kennedy’s service and dedication to our country, this bill would direct the U.S. Mint to issue a special limited commemorative silver dollar coin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Kennedy.” Rep. Kennedy is the grand-nephew of President Kennedy.

They added in the letter, “On this centennial anniversary of President Kennedy’s birthday, we are reminded of a man whose legacy has inspired countless American citizens to push our country towards progress, justice, and unity. Through his commitment to public service and his iconic leadership, John F. Kennedy has left an unforgettable imprint in the hearts and minds of numerous generations of Americans.”

The Senate version of the legislation was introduced by Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz.

Exploring art, monuments, and coins”Connecting coins, the arts, and American monuments: Another column in the August 7 monthly issue of Coin World continues with the art theme, as the artists who’ve designed our most gorgeous pieces of paper currency are profiled.

Both bills call for the U.S. Mint to issue a maximum of 500,000 silver dollars honoring Kennedy. As with other recent bills seeking commemorative silver dollars, the bills call for the coins to be made of at least 90 percent silver, a change to older legislation that required such coins to be made of the traditional 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. Congress granted the Mint some flexibility in silver coinage alloys in 2015.

The designs of the silver dollar would be selected by the secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts and representatives of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and after their review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

The purchase price of each coin would bear a $10 surcharge to be paid to support the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

The Kennedy half dollar has been issued annually since 1964, though production has been shunted to collector sales since 2002. The coins do not circulate widely. Similarly, the 2015 Presidential dollar was struck for collector sales only (as were all Presidential dollars after the last issue struck for 2011). 

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