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Stack’s Bowers Galleries Sets Record for Most Valuable Modern U.S. Coin

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries official auction of the 2019 ANA World’s Fair of Money set several records for United States coinage earlier this month in Rosemont, Illinois. Among these was lot 5231 of their Rarities Night session, a 1964 Kennedy half dollar produced as part of an unreported Special Mint Set (SMS) and certified SP-68 by PCGS. After intense bidding, it sold for an astounding $156,000 USD, setting a new record for the most valuable non-error modern United States coin ever sold at auction.

Excitement over the 1964 SMS Kennedy half dollar has grown steadily in recent years, with several examples selling for mid-five and low-six figures over the past decade. There are just over a dozen known for this rare issue, among which this piece ranks with the finest. It represents a holy grail for specialists and advanced PCGS Registry Set participants.

These coins emerged onto the market as part of five-piece SMS sets sold by Stack’s in various auctions throughout the early 1990s. The very first set appeared in the Stack’s sale of June 1991, and additional sets were sold through 1995. These were offered by Stack’s from the estate of dealer Lester Merkin, but they can likely be traced back to Eva Adams, director of the United States Mint from October 1961 through August 1969.

While Special Mint Sets were produced in high numbers and offered to the public in 1965, 1966 and 1967, there were no official SMS sets struck for 1964, raising questions about the existence of these sets and the coins therein. Whatever the circumstances surrounding their production, these coins are some of the most elusive issues of the modern U.S. era.

While the 1964 SMS half dollar sold in the Stack’s Bowers ANA Auction represents a new record for non-error modern U.S. coins, the firm has actively traded in “modern” coinage since the 1930s, offering newly-struck pieces directly from the Mint for collectors to fill in their sets.

More recently, Stack’s Bowers set the record for modern U.S. error coins in August 2011 with their sale of a 1975 No S dime for $349,600. With just two examples known, the 1975 No S is the rarest of the several No S die errors that have been found on Proof coinage from the late 20th century. While technically die errors, the No S issues are actively collected alongside the regular Proof issues from the era.

To learn more about this record-breaking 1964 SMS half dollar, or to discuss your own treasured collection, please contact Stack’s Bowers Galleries at 800-566-2580 or [email protected].

Stack's Bowers
Stack's Bowershttps://stacksbowers.com/
Stack's Bowers Galleries conducts live, internet, and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company's 90-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection, The Sydney F. Martin Collection, and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Salton Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection. The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California with galleries in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Offices are also located in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Hong Kong, Paris, and Vancouver.

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    • This isn’t really a “whatzit worth” site, but if you search for coin values you’ll find plenty of guides.

      Unfortunately so many 1964 halves were saved as mementos that unless your coin is in uncirculated or proof condition it’s only worth its scrap-metal value, maybe seven bucks retail. A metal buyer would of course pay less, maybe 50-60% of that if you’re lucky.


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