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The Decline Of The Kennedy Half Dollar In Circulation

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 Posted 01/23/2021  10:15 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
PCGS - The Kennedy half dollar has been struck since 1964, yet for most its existence the series has seen relatively little use in circulation. It was a situation that caught the attention of the government officials by the 1970s, when mintages of the half dollar saw significant reductions as demand for the coin in commerce was falling off. But it took more than two decades further before the United States Mint pulled the plug on the production of circulating half dollars in 2002.

Kennedy half dollars never really saw true integration in normal circulation. First struck in early 1964 under the heavy shadow of grief in the months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the Kennedy half dollar was cherished as a memento of the nation's fallen leader. Tens of thousands lined up at banks around the United States in the days following the release of the Kennedy half dollar. It didn't take long for the public to regard the Kennedy half dollar as something "special," even if the coins were simply meant to be normal pocket change.

The popularity of the Kennedy half dollar, coupled with a rush of bullion speculators hoarding coins of any silver content from circulation, drove hundreds of millions of these halves to change jars, piggy banks, and dresser drawers by the late 1960s. Marking an end of circulating silver coinage, the United States converted the Kennedy half dollar to a copper-nickel format in 1971, following composition changes that saw the denomination go from a 90% silver coin in 1964 to one with 40% silver content from 1965 through 1970.

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 Posted 01/23/2021  10:23 am  Show Profile   Check chafemasterj's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add chafemasterj to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you. Great article as usual.
Check out my counterstamped Lincoln Cent collection:
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 Posted 01/23/2021  8:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DiscoLover82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the great article!

Growing up I would very occasionally see a half-dollar in circulation, but I don't think I've seen one since about 2010 at all for what it's worth.
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 Posted 01/23/2021  9:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PNWType to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Even as young as I am I can still recall a few times of receiving a Kennedy as change, I'd always save them so I certainly wasn't helping the lack of circulation problem
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 Posted 01/24/2021  09:53 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Riellyscions to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Oddly enough I got one in change last month but its been many years before that.
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 Posted 01/24/2021  10:36 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 88isgreat to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Get one in change every time I get a haircut. The barber uses them for change.
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 Posted 01/24/2021  11:33 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Earle42 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
When silver was taken out and inflation started, a .50 piece no longer would get you through the day like it did in the 40s and 50s. So carrying halves became less popular as they were too heavy in the pocket. I always liked them as a kid in the 60s-70, so was curious as to why adults were not using them. My parents, all my grandparents, and other adults said the same thing.

This then relates to the Ike dollar when they came out b/c I remember people thought them just a novelty item sine everyone knew they were too big and heavy to carry around. Everyone wanted one, but it was something to keep and or hoard.
My parents and a lot of my friends parents I knew of has a special box or drawer where they kept every Ike or half dollar they came across saying they were "rare" and would be "worth something some day." In fact my parents and my wife's parents still have theirs (I am 58)!.
The slabbed Half dollar No G farce: Download No-FG half vs. Grading Company Claims report here: or higher resolution version:

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 Posted 01/25/2021  12:24 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great article!

This then relates to the Ike dollar when they came out ... Everyone wanted one, but it was something to keep and or hoard.
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 Posted 02/22/2021  05:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add BearlyHere to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great silver coin to collect.
64 D Kennedy MS65
64 P Kennedy MS65
64 Kennedy PR67-Laney
64 Kennedy PR68
64 P Kennedy Hair PF66*
65 Kennedy SMS MS67
66 Kennedy SMS MS67
67 Kennedy SMS MS67
67 Kennedy DDO SMS SP67*ANACS
70 D Kennedy MS64*
74 D DDO MS64*
76 S Kennedy MS67
76 S Kennedy PR69
82 P Kennedy no FG*
87 P Kennedy MS66*
87 D Kennedy MS66*
92 S Kennedy PR69
93 S Kennedy PR69
94 S Kennedy PR69
95 S Kennedy PR69
95 S Kennedy PF69*
-96 S Kennedy PR69
-97 P Kennedy*
98 S Kennedy PR69
98 S Kennedy SP70 (matte)*
99 S Kennedy PR69
00 S Kennedy PR69
01 S Kennedy PR69
02 S Kennedy PR69
03 S Kennedy PR69
04 S Kennedy PR69
05 S Kennedy PR69
06 S Kennedy PR69
07 S Kennedy PR69
08 S Kennedy PR69
09 S Kennedy PR69
10 S Kennedy PR69
11 S Kennedy PR69
2013 S Kennedy PR69
14 P Kennedy PR69
14 P Kennedy HR clad SP67*
14 P Kennedy HR *
14 D Kennedy HR clad SP67*
14 D Kennedy HR SP69*
14 D Kennedy MS69
14 W Kennedy RP PF69*
14 S Kennedy PR69
14 S Kennedy En SP69*
15 S Kennedy PR69
17 S Kennedy PR69
18 S Kennedy S PR69
18 S Kennedy RP PR69
19 S Kennedy ERP clad SP70
19 S Kennedy PF69
19 D Kennedy clad MS67+Rocket
20 S Kennedy PR69
*Top 100 Modern Coin

Edited by BearlyHere
02/22/2021 05:53 am
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 Posted 02/22/2021  07:07 am  Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great article - thanks for posting!
Every time I go to the States I try to get a roll from a bank and, after checking there are none I want to keep for my collection (I once found a 1969s Proof!), I have fun putting them back into circulation. I've had funny looks but have never had one refused.

I've never understood why weight should be an issue, since many Americans carry lots of quarters around with them, and three or four dollars in change will weigh the same whether it's in halves or quarters.
Edited by NumisRob
02/22/2021 07:11 am
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 Posted 02/22/2021  09:47 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cladking to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
People would be amazed how much these did circulate and how tough some of them are even in chBU condition but especially in Gem.

They were never "common" in circulation and hit their peak in the '77/ '78 era. This means most '78-D's are sliders or all the way down to VF. Mintage was only 14 million and most were ugly coming off the dies. Then they got lots of dings and scrapes on their way to rolls and mint sets.

People always counted on mint sets to supply an unending stream of nice coins for collectors. Even though nice '78-D's in mint sets were a little elusive the stream failed years ago because these coins have tarnished if left in the mint set. Now days even finding nice BU coins to check for Gems is difficult. The prices of these collectables isn't low because they are common, they are low because collectors are rare. The price of the '78-D is the same as other dates simply because without collectors no one has noticed its one of the tougher dates.

There probably aren't even half a million Kennedy collections and most of these collections aren't being worked very hard, are incomplete or are being assembled by "unsophisticated" collectors. Many have circulated examples and the collections were formed around coins acquired from the bank or pocket change.

If the coins ever get popular there will not be the depth of supply that is assumed. Of course this affords today's collectors the opportunity to acquire some very scarce coins for very low cost. If you can find nice mint sets the half dollars will cost little more than 50c each.
Time don't fly, it bounds and leaps.
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 Posted 02/24/2021  4:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add LibertyEagle20 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting insight cladking. I always appreciate the info you post so thank you!
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 Posted 02/27/2021  1:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add coinnewcomer1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
From my searches of Kennedy halves, ones from the 1980's seem to appear less often than those from 1970's and 1990's. I think the 1990's Kennedys are the hardest to find in very good condition as even those in Mint State and just released into the wild show bang marks and whatnot despite the cartwheel luster. It is much harder to find a 70's Kennedy with cartwheel luster.

I will once in awhile keep a clad one - even one in low AU depending on the date (for the Kennedys struck between 1964 - 1974, 1973 is the lowest mintage date though by far still in the common range, an example of a Kennedy you will likely not find coin roll hunting but in sets is the 1987 (as well as the key date 1970 40% silver).

The "rare" one to find are any silver proofs from 1992 onward although possible if you look for a few years, and high quality Kennedys from the 70's - 90's. Surprisingly you can get one in a great while Kennedys issued for collectors (after 2002). As the mintages were common for most Kennedys (again exceptions 1970 and 1987) only until 2003 when they have been consistently below 10 million (making them modest to scarce for those with special finishes and sold only through the US Mint - satin finish Kennedys from 2010, the anniversary strikes form 2014, the reverse silver proof of 2018, and the special strike found in the Rocketship issue of 2019), any Kennedys before 2003 can easily be bought on the secondary market for very affordable prices. The best deal right now are the majority of Kennedy silver proofs from 1992 onward. Probably one of the best ways to stack silver and attain coins with modest numismatic value as the mintages for Kennedy silver proofs start around over 1 million in 1992 and drop to under 400,000 by 2017 (and matching the mintage of key date Walking Liberty halves).

As has been mentioned and a factor collectors forget sometimes, the Kennedys after getting some use from the late 60's through the 70's become hardly used and seen as a nuisance. People back in the 1980's were complaining the US Mint was producing far too many of them for the public demand. The main area Kennedys were used were at casinos and vending machines. However today as our system becomes more and more cashless, both the Lincoln cent and Kennedy half dollar are often NOT accepted by vending machines (although golden dollars are beginning to be more accepted).

My advice: if you find an attractive clad Kennedy in circulation or from the bank, go ahead and keep it, you aren't losing anything and can alwayts spend it when you want to reduce your collection (and who knows maybe by then there will be a premium on even lightly circulated ones by then!). What to hold onto are any proofs that show little impairment, silver Kennedys, and, of lucky, any high grade BU Kennedys you come across. For the high grade BU Kennedys you best chance of finding those is through serious searching of BOXES of Kennedys (which may once in awhile get you a Walking Liberty, Franklin, and, in very rare cases, Barber!).
Edited by coinnewcomer1
02/27/2021 1:30 pm
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