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Celebrate half, then kill it

The U.S. Mint has a notation on its website of how many days it is until the 225th anniversary of its founding on April 2, 1792.

Two years later will come the 225th anniversary of the half dollar coin. This, too,  is worthy of a special celebration.

Perhaps a gold version of the 1794 Flowing Hair half dollar would be in order.

But that should be it. The half should then be abolished.

The fact that it should be abolished doesn’t mean that it will be abolished. There are many things that Congress should do, but doesn’t.

The coin will limp along being struck so they can be sold to collectors by the roll or by the bag.

Sooner or later you would think that the buyers of these coins will decide they have had enough. It is one thing to have a half dollar in a proof set or uncirculated set, but it is something else entirely to be accumulating them in 200-coin bags.

Eventually a spouse will put a foot down, or the high storage costs for coins basically worth face value will put an end to further purchases.

Also, these accumulations will eventually end up in the banking system, there to languish without demand by the public as the dollar coins have done.

The saving grace for the half dollar is there are not as many of them as dollar coins, and the public has so thoroughly forgotten about them that there are no complaints.

We don’t see headlines about hapless would-be half dollar spenders threatened with arrest because they are trying to spend a fake as happens when people try to spend the barely used $2 bills.

So the half dollar will continue to be offered each year to a shrinking band of a few thousand collectors, who for whatever reason, continue to buy by the roll and the bag.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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5 Responses to Celebrate half, then kill it

  1. Fred762 says:

    How about..instead of abolishing a decent US coin..we go back to 90% silver coins, paper silver certificates and gold coins..like we used to have. Much more soundness in the money and take back control of the money from the bankers.

  2. Vachon says:

    The half dollar could easily be restored as a circulating coin if banks could be made to only order “fractional dollars” for a few years. That is, if they wanted $1000 in “fractional dollars”, $500 would arrive as quarter-dollars and the other $500 would arrive as half-dollars (since transactions would only ever require up to one of both, this shouldn’t be an issue). Knowing they’re out there, vending machines would retool (why they don’t accept them already is beyond me…you may not get them often, but why pass up a sale…same with dollar coins) and people, after some initial grumbling, would just get used to them.

    The denomination suffered from some bad luck. Had the Kennedy half not debuted until the Franklin had had its 25 year run (1973), maybe we’d still be using halves. Instead you had a coin everyone wanted and was hoarding and made of an alloy that was being phased out. The prior coins which should’ve filled the gap were also being taken out as were the ill-advised 40% silver alloy ones (maybe if the dime and quarter had also been 40% silver until 1970, the half would’ve survived).

    The half died from bad luck, not a lack of demand. If what I proposed however, led to the loss of the half once banks could order quarters and halves separately again then yes, I’d support abolishing the denomination.

  3. hpcoinllc says:

    The half is such a rarity in circulation now that everyone hoards it when they see it. That alone says there is reason not to quit minting it. As Vachon said, the change in composition is what caused the disappearance more than anything else. In reality its size is of no more inconvenience than two quarters. It weighs the same. If banks started using them, circulation would resume.

  4. hpcoinllc says:

    If they are going to kill anything, it should be the Federal Reserve that caused all the problems in this country to begin with.

  5. Now you want to get rid of the half dollar. Your fast. Penny, mint sets,nickel,now the half. At least you consistent. Like I said get rid of everything. Why collect any of these coins. Every year they come out thousands and thousands go looking for the best to put in there albums. But why should you care. You can buy gold by the bag. Forget how you started? I think you have. But read one of your articles about keeping this hobby alive for the kids. Remember them! You were one. You want to get rid of everything they can afford so why bother with the kids. Ask the ANA. Your always for them. But your articles in truth are against them? How do I know that? Let’s get rid of this and that now you have made it to the half dollar. How long before he dollar? Just my opinion Mike.

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