By CoinWeek ….
After a 1964 “SMS” Kennedy half dollar sold for $108,000 USD on April 25, a rare opportunity to own a complete set of high-grade 1964 Special Mint Set coins presents itself this week at GreatCollections.com, with bidding ending at 8:34 pm EST this Sunday, May 12.
Only 12 of the unofficial “Special Mint Sets”–assembled a year before the United States Mint began to sell Special Mint Sets officially to the public–are known to exist. Unlike the official consumer products issued a year later, the Special Strike 1964 sets were not put together in pliofilm packaging – though they do share the sharp detail and satiny surfaces in common with the later releases.
The Kennedy half that achieved last month’s world-record price (including buyer’s fee) is graded PCGS SP67, and so is the specimen in the GreatCollections set. In fact, all five 1964 Special Strike coins offered by GreatCollections are among the top graded specimens of each denomination and issue.
A major rarity for specialist Kennedy half dollar collectors, the 90% silver 1964 Special Strike Kennedy half dollar being offered is one of seven reported by PCGS at SP67, with five finer (four at 68 and one at 69). As mentioned above, the April price is the current record, but an example saw a strong $47,000 at a September 2016 sale, and another went for $16,100 almost a decade ago in January 2010. At the time of writing, after 37 bids the high bid for the 1964 SMS Kennedy on GreatCollections.com stands at $20,500.
Also consisting of 90% silver are the 1964 Special Strike quarters and dimes. Here we have a PCGS SP67 quarter and an SP66 dime. PCGS reports 13 quarters in 67 with one finer (68) and four dimes in 66, with 13 finer in 67 and one in 68. Prices realized for a 1964 SMS Washington quarter graded PCGS SP67 climbed to a $6,325 high in January of 2010 after falling from $7,763 in May 2004. The record, however, belongs to a specimen in 66, which sold for $9,000 only a week ago on April 28.
The record for a 1964 SMS Roosevelt dime is held by another 66-graded example, which sold for $10,200 at the same April 2019 sale as the quarter, though average prices an SP66 1964 Special Strike dime cluster around the $3,500 level.
At the time of writing, the high bid for the quarter stands at $7,500 after 26 bids and the high bid for the dime sits at $913 after 28 bids.
The Jefferson nickel and Lincoln Memorial cent are both likewise in a high mint state condition, graded SP68 Full Steps and SP66 Red, respectively. PCGS reports seven nickels at 68 with the Full Steps designation with none finer; PCGS also reports only three 1964 Special Strike cents with the Red designation at 66 with five finer in 67 and two graded SP68. Recent prices realized for the nickel include $17,625 in June 2016 and a record result of $32,900 in January of that year. The high watermark for a 1964 SMS Lincoln cent was in January 2019 when an SP67 RD example went for $15,600. The most recent auction record for an SP66 is from January 2010, where a specimen sold for $7,188.
Currently, the nickel sits at $2,151 after 21 bids and the cent has a going price of $2,001 after 51 bids.
For auction prices specific to GreatCollections.com, check out the company’s Auction Archives, which cover more than 600,000 certified coins that have been sold over the past seven years.
On the 1964 Special Mint Set
All known 1964 SMS coins have a satiny surface, strong details, and a sharp rim. A lack of contact marks and sometimes die polishing marks identify these coins as being specially struck. Furthermore, they do not display the mirror-like reflective surfaces of Proofs, yet the strike is clearly stronger than either the 1964 Proof coinage or the SMS coinage of 1965, ’66, and ’67.
The coins were unknown to the numismatic community at large until the 1990s. For many years, the first appearance at auction of pieces from a 1964 Special Mint Set was thought to be 1993, but researchers later discovered an unusual five-piece set of coins dated 1964 and struck at the Philadelphia Mint was offered at auction in 1991. The five Special Strikes in the ’91 sale were originally contained in the same plastic coin holder.
Numismatists believe that the 1964 Special Mint Sets may have belonged to former U.S. Mint Director Eva Adams, who was instrumental in bringing the Kennedy half dollar from concept to circulation in just a couple of months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
The former Mint director died on August 23, 1991, and her estate was sold soon after. Coin dealer Lester Merkin is known to have bought some if not all of the coins from that sale.