US Coins

Collectors discover 1977-D half dollar on silver planchet

It took Maine collector Craig Wildes only 25 years of searching through 20-coin rolls of United States half dollars to discover an example of a 1977-D Kennedy half dollar struck on a silver-copper clad planchet.

The 1977 Kennedy half dollar mintage of 31,449,106 coins was all to have been struck on copper-nickel clad composition blanks. Error coin experts believe an unknown number of the silver-copper clad planchets from the San Francisco Mint were transferred to the Denver Mint mixed with copper-nickel clad planchets.

The San Francisco Mint struck 40% silver 1776–1976 Kennedy, Bicentennial half dollars for collector sets as well a copper-nickel clad issues for circulation.

Error coin dealer Fred Weinberg believes that approximately a dozen examples of the silver-copper clad (40% silver) 1977-D Kennedy half dollars were known to exist before Wildes’ discovery.

Wildes said: “While my friend and I were searching rolled half dollar coins on a trip in South Central Texas last September we came across a 1977-D Kennedy half struck on a silver planchet. Having searched rolled coins for over 25 years together we were both astounded. We have searched literally millions of these coins over the last 25 years and until finding this coin we were not even aware of its existence.

“After showing it to a couple of numismatists, we submitted it to ANACS for certification.”

ANACS authenticated, encapsulated and graded Wildes’ coin as About Uncirculated 58. The coin is valued at several thousand dollars.

The 1977-D Kennedy silver-copper clad half dollar is believed to have first appeared in the 2007 edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins, commonly known as the “Red Book.”

Wildes said he and his collector friend — who wishes to remain anonymous — search through thousands of half dollars weekly. Wildes said he searches through $1,000 face value weekly, and his friend searches double that over the same period.

Four times a year, Wildes said, he and his collector friend take week-long “prospecting” excursions around the United States, preferably to out-of-the-way locations, visiting banks in search of half dollar rolls.

During one of those trips in September 2021, he secured 17 of the 20-coin half dollar rolls from a bank’s drive-through teller.

With his friend driving, Wildes said, he searched the first 16 rolls and found nothing unusual. In searching through the final roll, he came across the 40% silver 1977-D Kennedy half dollar with its distinctive silver-copper clad edge and coin ring when tapped.

While the 1977-D Kennedy copper-nickel clad half dollars weigh 11.3 grams, the silver-copper clad coins weigh 11.5 grams.

Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Co. do not list error coin submissions in their respective Population and Census reports, but the ANACS report does.

The ANACS population record indicates 12 submissions — one grading AU-50, two AU-58, two Mint State 61, five MS-62 and two MS-63.

Between 2007 and 2018, Heritage Auctions has sold six examples of the wrong planchet error:
➤ NGC AU-58, April 26, 2018, $6,600.
➤ NGC AU-55, June 9, 2016, $4,230.
➤ NGC MS-63, Sept. 4, 2014, $3,055.
➤ PCGS MS-62, Feb. 4, 2014, $5,875.
➤ PCGS MS-64, Jan. 6, 2007, $6,900.
➤ ANACS AU-50, Jan. 14, 2005, $3,737.50.

GreatCollections has sold one example twice, at its online auction platform:
➤ PCGS MS-62, March 23, 2014, $5,170.
➤ PCGS MS-62, July 6, 2014, $5,005.

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