Many collectors have long thought that the half dollar because it has hardly circulated for many years and now basically does not circulate at all could be used as a commemorative vehicle much like the quarter was used in the state quarter program.
The obverse would retain the portrait of John F. Kennedy and the reverse would be changed regularly to appropriate designs.
Some even went further and suggested both sides change regularly.
However, though it was suggested often, nothing has ever happened.
Twenty years ago collectors would have been astounded if we had forecast that the quarter would carry five or six different designs each year starting in 1999 and running at least until 2021, that the nickel would have multiple new obverse and reverse designs in 2004-2006, the dollar would have five different designs each year starting in 2007 and the cent would have four different reverse designs in 2009.
Of course, any change at all would have surprised collectors of two decades ago. An effort to change all the designs on circulating coinage that had begun in 1988 petered out by the early 1990s. The outcome seemed only to confirm that American coin designs were immutable.
Almost no one would have guessed that once the door to design changes opened that it would affect virtually every denomination but the half dollar, and of course, the dime.
Will the multiple annual design template ever be applied to the half dollar? I expect it will. It is simply a matter of time before someone will wake up to the realization that there is money to be made for the government by doing this.
The Roosevelt dime might turn out to be the ultimate numismatic loner, unchanging and unloved. That would be odd since the addition of the 1996-W issue to mark its 50th anniversary was the first foreshadowing for hobbyists that the factors that kept American circulating coinage unchanged would no longer hold.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”