I have to say I am excited by the prospect of a special set of Kennedy half dollars to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the coin. I think I can safely write that I will be a purchaser no matter what the set comprises.
Decisions have not yet been made as to what will be in it. Will the set be all silver, all clad or a mixture. Will there be proofs, reverse proofs, enhanced uncirculated or simply uncirculated coins in it, or a mixture?
The hint provided to me by Deputy Mint Director Richard Peterson that there would be something from the three mints, PDS. Already, I have had an email asking that West Point’s “W” also be included.
What the ultimate selling price is will determine a significant portion of collector response to the set as will an ability to get the coins certified by a third-party grader that will increase their value.
Playing the numismatic lottery these days by taking a chance on getting something slabbed is an increasingly common phenomenon as is cancellation of orders to the Mint when the buyer realizes he will not get them in time to slab.
This is understandable, but it is a far cry from how I will view whatever set is created.
For it is the Kennedy half dollar that best represents my time in numismatics. I had only just started collecting coins in 1963. President John F. Kennedy is the first President I remember. I saw his inauguration on TV. My 5-year-old mind tried to decipher what “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” meant.
Learning about the Peace Corps, seeing John Glenn launched into orbit on a TV at school seeing news clips of the Kennedy family at Hyannis Port seemed to be natural parts of my growing up years – until they were ended by the President’s assassination Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. I grew up a little that day. Perhaps the rest of the country did as well.
I also learned when the Kennedy half dollar was to be released in March of 1964. I was not a subscriber to a numismatic newspaper. I was not a member of a coin club, but somehow I was made aware of the new half dollar.
I wanted it. I simply wanted it.
I stood in a long line at a bank on the day of issue. I bought the two that were allowed. One was for me. One was for my younger brother.
It meant something to me. It still does. I still have the coin.
It is my hope that all collectors will see next year’s 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar set as having the right number of coins struck in the right metals, having the right finishes and be sold for the right price.
Too much to ask?
But whatever that set happens to be, in it I will see virtually the entirety of my coin collecting life. It will once again put me in touch with my hobby roots. It will evoke the same emotions as did that long ago first issue when I simply knew that I had to have that coin.