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The Coin Analyst: U.S. Mint Surveys Customers about Possible Special Sets in 2014 to Mark 50th Anniversary of JFK Half Dollar

by Louis Golino for CoinWeek ………

John F. Kennedy remains one of the most admired and beloved presidents in American history as the 50th anniversary of his assassination, which will be on November 22, approaches. Already the Republic of San Marino, the oldest constitutional republic in the world and one of the smallest countries, is issuing a special 2 euro coin to honor the anniversary this spring, and pre-orders for that coin are selling well on e-Bay.

At the time of his death Americans were so grief-stricken that plans for a special circulating coin to honor him were made quickly, and the coin has been issued ever since 1964, although it is now only made for collectors and sold in annual proof and mint sets and in rolls at a premium.

jfk_setThis week news surfaced in internet coin forums that the U.S. Mint is considering issuing some special sets to mark the half-century anniversary of the issuance of this very popular modern coin.

No decisions have been made by the Mint. A survey has been sent to some Mint customers asking them about their preferences for various set options, and the Mint shared with me the various options they are considering.

The Mint may issue both silver and clad sets with coins from different branch mints, and the sets may include reverse proof coins. Both a silver reverse proof and a clad reverse proof half dollar would be firsts, and I am sure many collectors will be eager to acquire such coins and sets, even if they do not collect the series.

The sets will include a special booklet on the history of the JFK half dollar that was authorized by Congress a little over a month after President Kennedy’s death.

Some people will, and are already, grumbling that this is another ploy by the Mint to separate collectors from their money, but the same thing could be said about anything the Mint issues for collectors. Besides, no one has to buy anything they don’t want to buy.

Others will say this will mean there are too many different types of Kennedy halves to collect, a curious argument since most collectors enjoy such diversity.

Yet that was the reaction of Coin World editor Steven Roach recently to the enhanced uncirculated American silver eagle that will be included in the West Point silver eagle set that goes on sale on May 9. He said it would be confusing and complicate the series, especially to less experienced collectors.

The Mint is evaluating customer interest in a broad variety of special JFK half dollar set options.

The first option would be a 4-coin 90% silver set with each coin made as a reverse proof, and coins would be minted at the West Point, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Denver mints. The coins would come in a special presentation case and include the booklet mentioned above.

The second possibility is a set with clad halves in proof minted at West Point, Philadelphia, and Denver, and one silver reverse proof coin plus the special case and booklet.

The third option is a three-coin set with a clad proof, clad reverse proof, and an uncirculated clad coin each bearing a mintmark for where they were minted, but no decisions have been made on which branch mint would issue the coins, and they would also include the booklet.

Fourth, a silver version of option three with a 90% silver proof, reverse proof, and uncirculated coins plus the booklet, and again no decision yet on where they would be minted.

The fifth possibility would be a two-coin set in clad with a clad proof and clad reverse proof coin with mintmarks to be determined later plus the booklet.

Finally, a silver two-coin set with a proof and reverse proof with mintmarks to be determined later and the booklet.

It is not clear at this point whether the sets would have limited mintages, or be issued to demand and sold during a limited window like the special silver eagles sets for 2012 and 2013.

One coin forum posting quoted from the survey and said that the 4-coin silver set would be sold to demand and priced at $77.95, while the 4-coin clad set would be limited to 100,000 units and priced at $16.95.

Initial reaction is mostly very positive about these possible sets, which is not surprising. The JFK half is indeed a great coin, and an easy one to collect since only a few coins are hard to find. But it is also a coin that has been issued continuously for 50 years, and it makes sense to do something special and different for the anniversary.

I know I would be very interested in these sets, which I think would be a nice way to mark an important moment on our history.

My preference would be to issue both the 4-coin silver set and the 3-coin clad set, but to make the silver set limited to 100,000 sets, and to make the clad set to demand since more people would be able to afford the clad set, which should therefore have a higher mintage. In addition, if the regular clad half is also issued next year, for one-year only it should be put into circulation to stir up more interest in modern coins and in the Kennedy half series.

Please indicate in the comments what your preference would be, and if we get a lot of responses I will forward them to the Mint.


Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.

Louis Golino
Louis Golino
Louis Golino is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern U.S. and world coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern numismatic issues and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s (NLG) award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to Coin World, where he wrote a bimonthly feature and weekly blog, and The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins. He is also a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum sponsored by Modern Coin Mart. He previously served as a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and as a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s when he began writing op-ed articles and news analyses.

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  1. Hello Louis,
    Yes, this would be very nice indeed, as I would add this set to what little I have, in this type. I agree with your opinions on the total mintage’s numbers to be produced. Right on the mark, as always.
    I do think that with the ASE total numismatic collectors we have in the world, that even fewer are collecting these (jmo). So with this, I estimate that we most likely have about 10,000 or so real Kennedy collector’s (probably fewer than this). Most orders will probably be for multiple sets, and then factor in the thousands ordered by the dealers. So the 100,000 mintage, if enacted on the Ag, sets, will be a quick sellout, and most likely, premiums will be very, very high, or at least in the first 1 year. I just sold 2 more of my unopened 25th 2011 AGE sets, and was surprised ,and very happy what I recd, since it has been almost 2 years, and just reinforces that if a low mintage number is put into effect, the same will happen. I am thinking that 2/3 years down the road, these sets will continue to do very well. I think if I am able, I will invest heavily in this one, but only if the total minted is not exceedingly high, but either way, and if their are not any product limits put forth, I will get mostly the silver sets. But, we will all just have to wait and see. NOTE: I love the idea of a smaller denominated US coin getting a reverse proof coin, and hope it happens, this allowing for another series of coin type’s to start. Looks like our mint is finally listening to its core collectors/buyers.
    Louis, aren’t these new ideas mostly under the new mint director ? as I do not know. I do not follow these kinds of things, and also do not care to pay extra for all those signatures that other will pay to have on top of those slabbed 1 oz. ASE’s. Now if George Washington had endorsed those silver Eagles, maybe, and just maybe, I would fork out some extra pesos to acquire them. LOL Louis….

    some thoughts from Dave in Ct….

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dave. As far as the six set options discussed above, what would be your preference? This is your chance to voice your opinion to the mint.

      • Louis,
        actually I would like to see a silver 9 pce set with RP’s from all 3 mints, then the 3 reg. proofs, then 3 burnished/reg silver, but lets not stop here, change the comp to .9999, and boy !, wouldn’t this be something. This would be a first, it would make these a world class pure coin, and then because of this, our mint could profit even more off of this set, and to us collectors, this would be hotter than the 2011-25th Anniv ASE set, as I mentioned in my earlier post. And can I say “WOW” again, Louis. Other than that, I would pay $250 for a set like that, and get few extra. US MINT: are you reading this ?..

        Dave in CT…..

        I would otherwise elect the first option you mentioned. But I have another idea, just mint 3 silver .9999 Reverse proofs, with all the booklets, special case etc., and limit these to one a person, and a product limit of 100,000. I truly think their is only 10,000 or less JFK collectors worldwide. I would even go out on a limb, and say maybe only a couple of thousand, in these current times that is. But I think, if the US MINT actually promoted this, as you, Captain Overkill, and I have talked about, think of all the new folks that would see these on TV, papers, etc. even though this is not the baseball coin that this topic is related too. Oh, well, this is such a grand opportunity for the mint to do some good for everyone, since they always seem to miss the mark.
        US MINT: please do not disgrace yourself with putting out colored coins, leave that to the kids, and to the woman, who mostly enjoy that type of coin.


        • There are four mints if you include West Point. It’s been discussed doing a reverse proof from each mint in 90% silver… A “price” of $79.99 has also been discussed. If they did that, I’d like to see a “true” limited edition in addition to the “regular” P, D and S. But, as mid October, no solid news or decisions yet – unless I missed something.

    • Dave,
      I forgot to mention that as far as I know there is still no new Mint Director. I think she will have to be re-nominated at this point, as so much time has passed since the original nomination. The problem from what I have heard is the Congress’ dragging its feet.

  2. I was very excited to hear about this. The Kennedy half dollar is my favorite “circulating” coin, even if it doesn’t really circulate anymore, and I have a complete collection of Kennedy halves. I have always thought Kennedy was the only president which looked any good on a coin. So, I am really looking forward to these sets and hope the mint issues one.

    In terms of the actual sets given, I would like to see choices pretty much identical to yours – a four coin silver set with two BUs, a proof, and a reverse proof. It would be neat if this set also used the mint’s new laser technology you discussed in your recent article. I would also like to see a three coin clad set released alongside the silver set. I would probably buy multiple issues of both, as these seem like they would have excellent gift potential. Mintage limits I don’t care too much about as long as the sets are produced and I can buy them.

    Some folks in the Mint News Blog comment section were also suggesting a “history of the half dollar set” where the Mint would theoretically release a set containing a Kennedy, a Franklin, a Walking Liberty, and a Barber. I thought this was an very interesting idea as well, and I always like re-releases of classic coins. However, since the purpose of the proposed half dollar set is to honor Kennedy, I am not sure how realistic it is.

    • Thanks, CO. I agree on the “history of the half dollar” set. It’s a nice idea, but it would not be related to the upcoming anniversary of the JFK half dollar, plus it would require authorization by Congress. In terms of the proposed JFK sets, they would be using the existing design, so it would already be authorized.

      I am pleased to see the Mint proposing ideas that appeal to many collectors.

    • CAP, how are your feelings on the looks of Washington/Lincoln on coins, since you say that JFK looks the best on a coin. I know their pics have “that era look” to them, but they look great to me, and I never get tired of looking at their faced, always makes me feel proud to be an American. Truly Classic, and they better not mess with perfection.

      Very Off Topic Here: Wouldn’t everyone like to see FDR on a coin. I always thought he was one of the top 5 presidents..

      thanks Louis/CAP..

      Dave in CT..

      • Hi Dave,

        I am okay with Lincoln, but to be honest I’ve never really liked the Jefferson nickel, the FDR dime, or the Washington quarter. I really prefer the classic depictions of liberty on our coins for the most part. I don’t really want to see the current presidents on our coins swapped out for other presidents or other famous people, either. I don’t especially like the Franklin half dollar.

        I just think most of our presidents don’t really look very good on coins. Kennedy, at least to me, seems to be the big exception to this rule, though obviously this is just my opinion. I feel that something like the presidential dollar coin series is probably best if we want to honor the presidents on our coinage.

  3. Yes I would love to see the 4 silver coin set and indeed it would
    be nice to have it limited to 100,00…The clad set is more affordable and so it makes more sense to have it as the unlimited set.

  4. OK, to answer your question on what the US Mint should do to celebrate the 50th year anniversary of the Kennedy half dollar.

    First, what ever they do, I hope they go back to the original design and get rid of that ugly “spaghetti” hair.

    Second, some collectors save Proofs and others business strikes so I hope the US Mint does it fairly and offers an equal amount of each. I like the idea of one business strike and one proof from each minting facility using the 90 percent silver content. It would be nice if the Mint would punch the mintmark on the reverse like they did in 1964.

    Third, a set of Reverse Proofs would be nice also and would be a great way to end the series.

  5. I would welcome a tribute set of Silver half dollars in all four mints.I would buy any and all types of finishes. BUT, I would like to see for the first time from the mint is some sort of customer loyalty appreciation. Offer these sets to pre-existing mint customers and website subscribers first! Set a mintage limit to make the coins desireable.Keep the large bullion pushers at bay for at least a week by allowing pre-existing customers the opportunity to purchase thier collectables first.
    Personally , the hype of early release , and diferent labels really turns me off of collecting. I’m all for profetiering ,but if the little guy cannot buy the coins at least at mint prices whats to become of future collectors?

  6. Thanks to everyone who has indicated their preference, and please keep them coming. It is also best if you can indicate which of the six options you prefer by noting the number (1 to 6). If the Mint does do this, it will probably be one of those specific options.

  7. How much longer will this series continue, given that none of the coins minted after 2001 was available for face value, none of the dates are in general circulation and no vending machines (with very few exceptions) accept half dollars? Perhaps making the 2014
    circulation strikes available through your local bank for face value would be one good way to honor Kennedy with the general public as well as with collectors.

  8. JFK is certainly an important icon to so many of us, especially to those who grew up with the public’s fascination all around them. I have always liked the reverse of the coin, about as much as like the reverse of the Barber halves. If we do see a special set from the US Mint I hope laser enhancements are incorporated.

  9. We did not respond to the survey. They now ask too many questions like how much money did you spend on coins so far this year and how much did you spend on coins last year? ETC! However, we would be interested in the History of the half dollars with the Kennedy, Franklin, Walking Liberty and a Barber coins. We would buy several sets for family gifts. Also we would like the FOUR coin silver set of President Kennedy (PDSW). We would buy several of those sets for family gifts. In our family we collect a variety of coins!

  10. I would like the 4 coin silver BU/Matte/Proof/Reverse Proof set with limited mintage including a per house hold limited mintage, so that the dealers don’t buy them all. I would be will to pay a very healthy premium for a set like this.

  11. 1) I HATE reverse proofs with a passion. Gimmick! Kill them all and keep the Kennedy half out of that junk.
    2) Love the frosty Matte Proof 1998 version (SMS, my tuchas; it’s a Matte Proof!). Reprise that.
    3) Do a 2013 (preferably – it is the 50th issue) with the 1964 hub’s relief in circulating clad, 90% silver, and .999 fine. Do the 90% in normal cameo proof.

  12. Oh, then end the series and put Ronald Wilson Reagan on the halt starting in 2014. 50 years (twice the classic interval) should have been enough for anyone on a coin. Eliminate FDR and Washington, too, unless you change their denominations. The cent needs to go completely, for all the Canadian reasons.

  13. K.I.S.S. one 90% silver proof S minted anniversary dated(of first 90%)1964-2014 like the 1776-1976. Maybe a special limited production of the copper-nickel P+D rolls same dates, one two roll set per person, no dealers

  14. I really like the idea of a set of various commems each of a different composition and finish. I would like to see multiple reverses each depicting a different theme of the Kennedy years from staring down the USSR to peace and human rights in SE Asia to batling organized crime to the Peace Coros and VISTA to integraton to voting rights, and to Civil Rights. We owe such a debt to his years and it would be nice to acknowledge them forever. Finally I would to see the coin retired as suddenly as this great man was taken from us. With one last commem with a reverse depicting JohnJohn saluting his father at Arlington

  15. Hi Louis,

    For many years I have fought in the defense of the $2 bill and the half dollar coin. I tried to get the $2 bill redesigned, to sort of refresh the denomination and hopefully, breathe more life into the denomination. Well, at last, around the early to mid 2020s, the $2 bill is slated for a redesign, in the next U.S. currency redesign known as the “Meaningful Access” redesign, which currenly is set to start with the $10 bill first, to test out new features for the blind and visually impaired, with such features as embossed shapes and high-contrast numerals, as well as possible other features that I may not be familiar with. The Meaningful Access redesign onlu effects the $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills, but not the $1 bill, due to the fact of costs to vendors and small businesses (The $1 bill should be history by 2020 for the dollar coin, anyway)

    As for the half, I would like to see four new reverse redesigns for general circulation related to John F. Kennedy, introducing a new design throughout the entire year of 2014 until each design is released, similar to the 2009 Lincoln Cent and the (2003, was it?) Jefferson Nickel programs, while keeping the obverse of the Kennedy design the same, then, in 2015, convert to a new, permenant design on the reverse of the half, (possibly, a flowing American flag design) while leaving the Kennedy obverse alone. And in 2014, Congress should mandate legislation, that all vending machines and self checkout machines and any coin and currency accepting machines, be reconfigured, so they can both accept and dispense both, Kennedy halves and Jefferson $2 bills as any other denomination, and banks and credit unions should also automatically hand out $2 bills and halves as needed, as their policy, unless someone requests otherwise, to get these two denominations back into wide circulation. You should not have to “ask” for $2 bills or halves. They should be handed right out in the place of two $1 bills or two quarters, however, with self checkouts and vending machines dispensing halves, and although most self checkouts already accept $2 bills, and some accept halves as well, they do not dispense $2 bills or halves, but need to be configured to, so that the general public is sort of “forced” to accept the new currency, and for a while, there will be three groups of people, the complainers, the hoarders, and the neutral group. The hoarders will first hoard the new Kennedy halves and Jefferson $2 bills, then after a while, they will realize that $2 bills and halves are not “rare collectibles” and after they got so many, they would stop hoarding them and start to spend them. The complainers will just grumble for a few weeks or months, and complain about minor confusion issues, but will eventually give up, and come to see that the $2 bill and the half are circulating denominations and accept them in every day use. And the neutral group will just think “Whatever. It’s money. It all spends the same. As long as all machines accept them”

    And one more thing I would like to say about the half in general is that, some people I have been talking with on a coin message board claim that there are rumors, and it has been stated by U.S. Mint workers that 2014 might be the last year before the U.S. Mint halts half dollar production completely. Please let the Mint know that us half dollar fans DO NOT want this. Thank You for reading.

  16. I have several customers that are wanting a gold coin to be in this set as well. Maybe have the silver, clad and gold in a set? Then have a set of the same in reverse proof? I am pretty sure that there will be buyers that will jump all over this, just like they did the reverse proof gold buffalo this year.

  17. Ho hum, ho hum. Reverse proofs & burnished coins have been hawked on TV ad nauseum! How about a nice 4 coin set, .999 fine silver, with the reverse honoring the great achievements made during his lifetime? PT 109, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Rights come to mind. If we are going to honor the man, let’s honor his achievements!


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