By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for PCGS ……
Kennedy half dollars are among the most popular United States coins, offering a wide variety of common dates, conditional rarities, and notable varieties. Among these varieties are the No FG Kennedy half dollars, which lack the “FG” initials of the coin’s reverse designer Frank Gasparro. No FG Kennedy half dollars are popular with series specialists and have been for years.
These peculiar varieties are born from heavy die polishing, which was intended to remove clash marks. Sometimes, United States Mint employees became a bit overzealous with this and abraded the “FG” initials off the die entirely. No FG coins rank as among the most important varieties to Kennedy half dollar enthusiasts, often collected alongside the 1964 Heavily Accented Hair Proof Kennedy half and the 1974-D Doubled Die Obverse Kennedy half . One of the most intriguing characteristics of the No FG variety is that it can potentially be found on any issue in the series – leading to many cherrypicking opportunities for keen-eyed collectors.
Those who are looking for No FG varieties need only flip their Kennedy half dollars over to their reverses. Gasparro’s “FG” initials are located just under the eagle’s left leg (the right side, in the viewer’s eye), above and to the right of the tailfeathers and to the left of the bundled arrows. If the FG initials can’t be found under 5x magnification, then the coin is a No FG variety. However, there must be no trace of the FG initials – light indications of the lettering do not count as a No FG variety, and numismatists don’t presently recognize “Weak FG” as a variety. Often the surrounding details, including the eagle’s tailfeathers and stars, are also found weaker on No FG pieces.
While the No FG variety can potentially be found on any Kennedy half, there are particular issues on which the No FG is both widely attributed and quite valuable, too. The most sought-after examples include the 1966 SMS, 1972-D, and 1982-P No FG Kennedy half dollars. These varieties have been long documented by collectors and are also recognized by PCGS.
The 1966 SMS No FG Kennedy half is among the scarcer No FG halfs. Presently, PCGS has graded 271 examples ranging SP62 to SP68, with prices of approximately $200 for an SP65 example up to $2,365 for a PCGS SP68 that traded hands in 2014.
Meanwhile, the rarest of these varieties is the 1972-D No FG Kennedy half. PCGS has graded 68 examples ranging from the moderately circulated grade of XF40 up to MS64+. Few auction records exist for this variety, but prices for an uncirculated specimen routinely march well into the hundreds of dollars, with the rare Choice Brilliant Uncirculated or Gem-level pieces realizing thousands of dollars. One of the most recent choice examples to command big bucks is a PCGS-graded MS63 1972-D No FG Kennedy half dollar that realized $2,485.13 in 2016.
The 1982-P No FG Kennedy half dollar is much more common than either the preceding 1966 SMS or 1972-D No FG varieties and is one of the most well-known examples of this variety. To date, PCGS has graded 329 examples, with most of these in the MS65 grade range. Prices for the 1982-P No FG in MS65 hover around $75, and one of the two PCGS-graded MS67 specimens took $2,820 in a 2016 auction.
No FG Kennedy halfss are often collected as part of a larger series run, though there are plenty of numismatists who pursue only varieties such as these. PCGS Registry Set collectors will find accommodations for the 1966 SMS No FG Kennedy half dollar in the Kennedy Half Dollars with Major Varieties, Proof (1964-Present) Registry Set.
Those who wish to include the 1972-D No FG Kennedy half dollars will find a home for them it in the Kennedy Half Dollars with Major Varieties, Circulation Strikes (1964-Present) Registry Set. There is also the combined Kennedy Half Dollars with Major Varieties, Circulation Strikes and Proof (1964-Present) Registry Set that gathers together the proofs and business strikes into one large virtual cabinet.
Meanwhile, the 1982-P No FG Kenendy half can be included in the Kennedy Half Dollars Complete Variety Set, Circulation Strikes (1964-Present) Registry Set, an ambitious assemblage of more than 150 coins that also includes the 1972-D No FG and a number of rare and more obscure doubled dies.