By Thomas Daniel Bowers Jr. …..
The term “Proof coin” during the years 1950 through 1964 refers to the manufacturing method used to produce coins whereby the coins are struck using polished dies and planchets. Starting in 1850, only individual/single Proof coins, were produced upon a request to the U.S. Mint – and the requester had to pay an amount over face value. In 1936, Brilliant Proof coins (coins with brilliant mirrorlike surfaces and sharp, high-relief details) were produced in sets that included the cent, nickel, dime, quarter and half dollar.
Proof sets took a “vacation” from 1942 to 1949 for two reasons. Firstly, the country’s base metal resources had to go towards the war effort during World War II. Secondly, the Mint was busy with the production of military medals during the post war (cold war) era. The minting of Proof sets was resumed in 1950. Proof Coins minted between 1950 and 1964 I have personally named the “Resumption Proofs”.
The composition of the dime, quarter and half dollar from 1950 until 1964 was 90% silver. In 1964, Proof sets contained the Kennedy half dollar for the first time and were the last 90% silver sets to be produced at the Philadelphia Mint. In 1965, Proof sets were again suspended due to “coin hoarding” but were resumed in 1968.
Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross, the first female U.S. Mint Director, served from 1933 to 1953. She is known for resuming Proof coins for public sale in 1950 and establishing the Franklin half dollar.
In the 1950 Proof set the Roosevelt dime and the Franklin half dollar would appeared for the first time as a part of a Proof set. Each coin was placed in individual cellophane packets, stapled at the top and placed in a box for shipment. In 1955 the flat-pack was introduced, all the coins were sealed in one single flat cellophane sheet and shipped in a paper envelope.
The wheat ears were replaced by the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse of the Lincoln cent in 1959.
The resumption proof mintages by year are:
Wheat Cent Period Ends
- 1950 – (51,386)
- 1951 – (57,500)
- 1952 – (81,980)
- 1953 – (128,980)
- 1954 – (233,300)
- 1955 – (378,200)
- 1956 – (669,384)
- 1957 – (1,247,952)
- 1958 – (875,652)
Memorial Cent Period Begins
- 1959 – (1,149,291)
- 1960 – (1,691,602)
- 1961 – (3,028,244)
- 1962 – (3,218,019)
- 1963 – (3,075,645)
Kennedy Half Dollar Period Begins
- 1964 – (3,950,762)
This author exhibited the 70 coins that make up “The Resumption Proofs Set” at the June 1-3, 2018 Texas Numismatic Association Coin Show in Arlington, Texas. The coins were graded and slabbed and displayed by denomination.
The exhibited coins illustrate what numismatics is all about. It has all the elements of what coin collectors look for in the hobby! It allows an individual to connect to a period in history or to a time that you feel strongly about. Also, it provides you with the thrill of the hunt, as you travel from coin show to coin show looking for the best coin to complete the set!
NGC-Certified Kennedy Half Dollars Currently Available on eBay