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Commems Collection: Question & Answer #10 - Clad Half Dollars

 
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 Posted 08/30/2022  07:52 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Here's a topic that is often brought up during in person and/or online discussions of the modern US commemorative Series ...

one_fine_dime wrote:

Quote:
I continue to be disappointed that Congress and the US Mint issue the 50 commemorative coins in copper-nickel (CuNi) clad. Does anyone know how we could mobilize the numismatic community and get them to start issuing silver 50 commems again!?


It's important to realize that the copper-nickel (CuNi) clad commemorative half dollars are meant to serve as a lower-cost entry point for new collectors, young collectors and/or those collectors working with a limited hobby budget. In the 1990s, the Mint often demonstrated this via Young Collector Sets (or similar) that featured (mostly) the clad half dollar; these Sets were offered at very reasonable price points and, IMO, were a great way to bring younger collectors into the hobby. More than once, I gave talks on these sets at coin shows to a group of young collectors (and their parents) and always got a great reception. (More than once, I was approached later in the day by one or more of the program attendees to proudly show me the Young Collector Set they had found - and purchased - on the bourse floor!)

The "Commemorative Coin Program Restrictions" section of the US Code (taking effect in 1999 and continuing to the present) specifies "the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall mint {i} not more than 750,000 clad half dollars." Thus, clad half dollars are specified by law as the default for the denomination within commemorative coin programs. Any switchover to silver half dollars would likely need to start with a revision to this part of the US Code. (Note: the two silver half dollars of the modern series - 1982 Washington and 1993 James Madison / Bill of Rights - were each struck prior to 1999.)

While it seems likely that sales of the half dollar coins would go up if they were struck in silver due to older and/or more seasoned collectors flocking to them due to a "silver bias," I think the unavoidable cost increase would push the coin past the budget limit for many of the collectors that the Congress/Mint is trying to bring into the hobby via commemorative coins. (As I write this, I fully acknowledge that the sales price of commemorative half dollars has risen in recent years, and the Mint has created coin sets intended for young collectors that do not include a half dollar.) I have wondered if part of the cost increase is the fact that the Mint no longer strikes half dollars for circulation and therefore some of the previous cost efficiencies - due to volume - have been lost.

Though I heartily enjoy the classic silver half dollars of the 1892-1954 era, I'm fine with the continuation of clad half dollars in the modern series. We need to entice as many new and/or young collectors as possible and if the lower point of entry for the clad half helps with this, I say continue on!



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 Posted 08/30/2022  12:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great answer!

When viewing the cost differences between the silver and clad proof sets now, I am sure a silver half dollar would be priced out of reach for many of the new and young numismatists buying them now.
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 Posted 08/30/2022  6:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Understand your views commems - I still suggest that an occasional modern issue 90% silver half would attract a generation of collectors who could afford them.
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 Posted 08/30/2022  7:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add BadDog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It's important to realize that the copper-nickel (CuNi) clad commemorative half dollars are meant to serve as a lower-cost entry point for new collectors, young collectors and/or those collectors working with a limited hobby budget.


I agree that this WAS a reason for the clad halves, but it seems the Mint abandoned that goal long ago.

I believe that last Young Collector Half dollar set was way back in 1996 for the Olympic games.

Also IMHO, the current price of $38 for a single, uncirculated clad half dollar also limits the appeal to new and young collectors as well. A clad proof set is only $32 with 10 coins and the quarters and dollar have yearly changing designs.
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 Posted 08/31/2022  08:53 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@BadDog: I stand by everything I said in my original post.

Quote:
I agree that this WAS a reason for the clad halves, but it seems the Mint abandoned that goal long ago.

I believe that last Young Collector Half dollar set was way back in 1996 for the Olympic games.

Also IMHO, the current price of $38 for a single, uncirculated clad half dollar also limits the appeal to new and young collectors as well. A clad proof set is only $32 with 10 coins and the quarters and dollar have yearly changing designs.

While the cost of the half dollars has increased, along with all of the other Mint offerings, the half dollar remains the lower-cost option for each commemorative coin program that includes one. (I reference the price increases in my OP.)

My comments were not restricted to the Young Collector Sets - I stated "or similar" in my OP - the last such set was issued in 2019. It was called a "Kid's Set" and was for the Basketball Hall of Fame coin program.

I wouldn't consider arguing against your "limits the appeal" opinion, your opinion is not subject to debate - it is what it is. My only comment is that $38.00 is less than $74 (the price of the Silver Dollar) and so still represents a more affordable entry point for those with a more limited budget.

Thanks for joining the discussion!




Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 08/31/2022  08:55 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@nickelsearcher:

Quote:
I still suggest that an occasional modern issue 90% silver half would attract a generation of collectors who could afford them.

I agree! I'd line up to be a buyer of a silver half and encourage young/new collectors to do the same!


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