Kennedy half dollar product somewhat of a fluke
The United States Mint has not struck Kennedy half dollars for general circulation since 2001, but that still hasn’t stopped hobbyists from adding such coins from the series to their collections. These are in addition to any Kennedy half dollar strikes produced for inclusion in annual Proof, Silver Proof and Uncirculated Mint sets.
The Philadelphia and Denver Mints are still striking circulation-quality copper-nickel clad Kennedy half dollars in 2017, but the coins are being offered by the U.S. Mint to collectors at a numismatic premium above face value in 20-coin rolls and 200-coin mixed bags.
How those numismatic products came about is somewhat of a fluke.
In 2001, the Philadelphia Mint produced 21.2 million Kennedy half dollars for circulation, with the Denver Mint contributing another 19.504 million coins. Much of that production was executed during the waning months of the 2001 calendar year. Philadelphia didn’t start production until September, with 20 million coins struck that month toward the eventual 21.2 million total.
While some of the 2001-D Kennedy half dollar production was pushed out into general circulation through the Federal Reserve, the Philadelphia Mint output was withheld from circulation release.
It wasn’t until an enterprising dealer from Tennessee arranged to secure 100,000 of the Kennedy half dollars from the Philadelphia Mint production was there any chance of the issue in circulation-quality seeing the light of day.
Arrangements were made by the dealer to have the coins shipped to the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for pickup. Once U.S. Mint officials learned of the transaction, Treasury moved quickly and had the coins returned to Mint vaults from Nashville.
With millions of Kennedy half dollars from 2001 and earlier sitting in Mint vaults, in November 2002, U.S. Mint officials announced the bureau would offer numismatic sales of circulation-quality 2002-dated Kennedy half dollars, and has done so annually since. The U.S. Mint never offered the 2001-dated half dollars as a numismatic product.
The 2001 Kennedy half dollars that languished in Mint vaults for more than two years slowly began entering circulation from Mint vaults through the Federal Reserve beginning in October 2003, closing that chapter in U.S. Mint history.