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Kennedy half unpopular in second year

The 1965 Kennedy half dollar, unlike the wildly popular 1964 Kennedy, has not been a well-liked coin.

The 1965 Kennedy half dollar, unlike the wildly popular 1964 Kennedy, has not been a well-liked coin.

The situation was unavoidable since there was going to be a decrease in demand under any circumstance. The 1964 Kennedy half dollar was released while the memories of the assassination were still fresh in everyone?s mind. In fact, to many it had been a sort of closure to a great national tragedy. People stood in lines for hours to get the first 1964 half dollars, and they cried when they looked at the coin.

There was demand all over the world. The coins were bringing $5 each in the streets of Europe and double their face value in third world countries. More than 430 million of the 1964 were produced at Denver and Philadelphia. The worsening coin shortage was promptly blamed on collectors.

The situation got worse in 1965 when the silver was removed from the quarter and dime, while it was reduced to just 40 percent in the half dollar. This caused hoarding to swing into high gear.

Signs of official confusion were everywhere. Silver dollars by the $1,000 bag had managed to fly out of the Treasury vaults. Congress authorized up to 45 million more silver dollars in August 1964. Denver made more than 300,000 1964 coins the following year, only to turn around and melt them.

It was in this environment that the 1965 Kennedy half dollar made its initial appearance. There was, however, more missing than the 90 percent silver composition. The government proclaimed coin collectors as the group responsible for the coin shortage. It was decided to have no mintmarks.

The very same Kennedy half dollar that brought premiums in 1964 had become a piece of junk to many. At 40 percent silver with no mintmark, very few would have been saved.

Before anyone gave the 1965 Kennedy half dollar a second thought, a large number of its 65,879,366 total mintage was melted. When silver went to $50 an ounce and the coin?s worth was well above its face value, people dumped it and the other 40 percent silver dates first.

Only recently has anyone bothered to take a second look at the 1965. It was priced at about $2.50 or less back in 1998. In recent times, however, the 1965 has jumped to $18 in MS-65. That is certainly an impressive move for a coin that was almost totally ignored at the time it was released and melted heavily in any grade later on. This combination of factors strongly suggests that nice Mint State examples of the 1965 Kennedy half dollar are tough to find and will come with hefty price increases that are likely to continue.