After almost 50 years, do we at last have a formula where our modern clad coins are no longer treated by collectors as the unwanted stepchildren as Cinderella was?
Is the term “clad trash” being replaced by “clad cash” in our minds?
We will see when the 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar uncirculated set goes on sale at the U.S. Mint’s website at noon Eastern time.
With major grading services creating early release labels to pump up the desirability of jumping on the Mint’s website in the first moment the coins become available will there high demand and heavy traffic?
Unlike the popular cupped-shaped Baseball Hall of Fame clad half dollar, there will be no gold or silver coins offered with the half dollars today. Clad will have to stand on its own appeal.
However, early signs are encouraging.
The two-coin set is just $9.95, a price that opens the door to affordability for more collectors.
Making these clad coins distinct is the fact that they will carry the design as it was in 1964, with higher relief than that of recent years. The date on them is 2014.
Naturally, there is a speculative impulse involved with orders today.
Coins that get the early release designation from grading services plus a grade of MS-70 might soar in value. Of course, they also might not soar in value, but it is the possibility that makes so many collectors eager to put down their $9.95 bets.
The creator of the Red Book, R.S. Yeoman, told many years ago that he thought clad coins were hugely underrated.
While they are not the objects of contempt that they were in the 1960s, they still have a long way to go to reach a status of respectability to equal gold, silver and copper coins.
Perhaps today’s sales results will be a big step on that journey to clad respectability.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."