The Kennedy half dollar, minted in honor of the charismatic President John F. Kennedy, stands as an enduring symbol of American history and numismatic fascination. With its iconic design and various versions, this coin has captivated collectors since its introduction in 1964.
The Inaugural Year: 1964
In 1964, the U.S. Mint released the first Kennedy half dollars, a poignant tribute to the recently assassinated President. Struck in 90% silver, these coins became an instant collector’s item. The mintage included versions from both the Philadelphia and Denver mints, each marked with mintmarks ‘P’ and ‘D’ respectively. Collectors often seek the 1964 Philadelphia minted coins due to their lower mintage, adding to their allure.
Shifting Composition: 1965 and Beyond
A significant shift occurred in 1965 when the Kennedy half dollar transitioned to a copper-nickel clad composition, reducing its silver content to 40%. Despite the change, subsequent issues retained their popularity among collectors. Beyond the sentimental value, these coins are sought after for their historical significance and diverse compositions.
The Rarity of 1970-D
One of the most elusive and valuable dates in the Kennedy half dollar series is the 1970-D. Interestingly, no Kennedy half dollars were officially released for circulation in 1970. However, a small number of 1970-D coins were accidentally struck and found their way into circulation. The scarcity of these coins makes them highly prized in the numismatic market, commanding significant value among collectors.
1987-D “S” Mintmark Variety
An intriguing variety within the series is the 1987-D “S” mintmark variety. This anomaly occurred when a mint worker mistakenly used a proof die to strike regular circulation coins, resulting in coins with proof-like qualities. The 1987-D “S” mintmark variety is a rare find and is esteemed for its uniqueness. Collectors appreciate the unexpected beauty brought about by this minting error.
Special Editions and Commemoratives
Beyond its standard issues, the Kennedy half dollar series includes special editions and commemorative releases. In 1998, the U.S. Mint issued a matte finish Kennedy half dollar as part of the Kennedy Collector’s Set. This unique finish distinguishes the coin and enhances its appeal among collectors. Additionally, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy half dollar in 2014 was marked with a special gold edition, struck in three-fourths of an ounce of 24-karat gold. The limited mintage and precious metal content contribute to its desirability among collectors and investors alike.
In conclusion, the Kennedy half dollar is not just a piece of currency; it is a numismatic treasure that reflects the nation’s history and collective memory. From its emotionally charged introduction in 1964 to the rare and valuable varieties that followed, this coin has retained its allure. Whether sought for its silver content, rare minting errors, or special editions, the Kennedy half dollar remains a captivating and collectible piece of American coinage, preserving the legacy of President John F. Kennedy for generations to come.