If you talk to some coin collectors, they’ll tell you they like Morgan Dollars or Seated Liberty Coins or just about any coin that isn’t out currently. I do like Morgan Dollars but I don’t collect them, at least not as I write this. When asked what my favorite coin is, I tell them it is a Kennedy Half Dollar. Then they’ll look at me as if to say, “Kennedy Half Dollars, that’s boring!” I believe a coin collection is what you make of it. If all you do put coins in an album, then yes, it is boring. So, here is my attempt to make Kennedy Half Dollars “not boring”.
What made me decide to collect Kennedy Half Dollars
When I was a kid, I remember getting half dollars in change. Every time I did errands for my mother’s aunts, they would pay me in Kennedy Half Dollars. I think half dollars are the best. The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is the most beautiful circulated coin that was ever minted in the US. I always liked looking at the Kennedy Half Dollar. Unfortunately, the last circulated Kennedy Half Dollars came out in 2001. I remember buying half dollar rolls trying to get the silver halves from the 60’s.
Kennedy Half Dollars are definitely not an investment collection which probably keep some collectors away from them. I’m currently trying to build a NGC slab set of Kennedy’s. For anyone new to coin collecting, NGC stands for National Guaranty Corporation, a company that certifies coins. They grade the coin and seal it in a plastic holder known as a slab. To make it interesting, I’ve acquired some of the uncommon coins described below (except for 1998-S Matte Proof which I purchased directly from the mint when it first came out). Before I talk about the specific coins, a brief intro to the Kennedy Half Dollar.
Shortly after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963, Congress authorized to have his face on a coin. Initially, they were thinking of the quarter, but First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy did not want to replace George Washington. Instead, she said she would rather replace Benjamin Franklin on the half dollar. Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts designed the obverse similar to Kennedy’s bust on his medal in the Mint’s Presidential series and Frank Gasparro designed the reverse.
The first year, 1964, would be the only year that the circulated Kennedy Half Dollar was 90% silver. The Coinage Act of 1965 would remove silver from the Roosevelt Dimes and Washington Quarters, but the silver content on the Kennedy Half Dollar was reduced to 40% and would remain that way until 1971 when it would also contain no silver.
1964 Accented Hair Proof
The first proof half dollars had extra hair above Kennedy’s ear. Once again Jacqueline Kennedy stepped in and asked to remove the accented hair. It is estimated that about 3%, or 120,000, of the 1964 proofs have the accented hair making it one of the coin’s rarities.
1970 saw no circulated half dollars. The only place they would be seen that year was in mint and proof sets. With only around 2,150,000 mint sets produced, the 1970-D half dollar would be considered the key date for the set in the early years.
1974-D Double Die Error
One of the most common Kennedy Half Dollars errors occurred in 1974. On some of the coins minted in Denver, the letters in TRUST show a double die.
In 1975 and 1976, the quarter, half dollar and dollar would have a different reverse in honor of the US Bicentennial and about 4,000,000 special mint sets were made with the coins containing 40% silver. The reverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar has a design of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The date on the coin displayed 1776 and 1976 with a dot in between.
1998 Matte Proof
The mint released a 2 coin set containing a Robert Kennedy commemorative dollar and a matte proof Kennedy Half Dollar. Not only a beautifully polished coin, but low mintage at 62,500. Definitely a key date.
2014 50th Anniversary
On the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Half Dollar, the mint released 5 coins to commemorate the occasion. This included a 4 coin silver set with a coin from each mint, Philadelphia minted the Proof coin, Denver minted the Uncirculated coin, San Francisco produced the Enhanced Uncirculated coin, and my personal favorite, West Point minted the Reversible Proof, seen here.
What do you like to collect…
or would like to collect. I’d like to know what coins other collectors like.