The 1967 Kennedy half dollar marks the last in a series of three years when the coin was struck without mintmarks. Like the 1965 and 1966 examples, we are learning that perhaps the 1967 should be taken more seriously.
Coming at the end of the series, it might well be the least saved of a group that saw very little saving to begin with. That could mean problems down the road if you want a nice example, and the first signs of this are starting to appear.
It is important to understand the times, which were troubled. Discontent was growing nationwide over the situation in Vietnam, as well as within the government when it came to numismatics.
It must be remembered that a number of dramatic steps had been taken back in 1965 due to a growing national coin shortage, which officials wanted to blame on collectors. This was nonsense. The coin shortage occurred after the elimination of silver from the dime and quarter, along with its reduction to 40 percent in the half dollar. This meant that average Americans were hoarding.
Matters were not helped by the U.S. Mint’s production during the previous year of 90 percent silver Kennedy halves, which of course were promptly hoarded as well.
Rather than admit confused silver policies were at the root of the problem, officials decided it would be easier to blame collectors. But neither collectors nor dealers were causing the problem. Tons of relatively ordinary, 90 percent silver coins were being pulled from circulation, ones that no collector or dealer would have wanted.
In 1965, you see, no one thought silver would ever reach $50 an ounce. Average dates were just junk silver that collectors and dealers did not really want.
To combat the imaginary menace posed by the nation’s coin collectors, it was decided that proof sets and mint sets would not be issued. The really devastating decision, however, was not to use mintmarks.
After all, the mintmark was vital to collecting as it was practiced at the time. Moreover, this decision meant that mintage totals would be the combined number from all mints producing a specific coin. The totals would be very large, and many collectors were immediately discouraged, just as the government wanted.
In all fairness, the half dollar was still a higher denomination than many collected. But eliminating mintmarks removed whatever little motivation there might have been to save Kennedy halves.
It turned out that the 1967 had the highest mintage of the three non-mintmarked coins at more than 295 million. It also became the most heavily saved, although that came later when the 40 percent silver composition of half dollars was eliminated after 1970. Of course, having been in circulation for some years, the 1967 coins that were saved were all in circulated condition.
Then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the Kennedy halves that had been saved were melted. It was a simple case of $50 silver, meaning that even 40 percent half dollars were worth premiums.
By 1998, the 1967 was still sitting at $2.25 or so in MS-65 condition. If you wanted to buy one, you could probably find a dealer to give you a break on the price simply to get it out of inventory.
Now, however, the 1967 is $18.50 in MS-65, and there are not a lot of them around at that price. With no supply of the 1967, any demand makes its price rise. That rising may not be finished, so keep watching!
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
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