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What are the rare Kennedy halves?

I just had an e-mail asking me what are the rare years of the Kennedy half dollar.
I have been aware of the series since its very beginning with its roots in a national tragedy.

On black and white television I watched the funeral cortege of the assassinated president. I saw the assassination of the assassin on TV as well.

I was a kid, but I was ill, so I probably napped through a great deal, but I saw enough to remember and to be motivated to stand in line when the Kennedy half dollars were released the following March.

The coins I got for my brother and me are significant, but they are not rare.

With the benefit of nearly 50 years of watching each coin issued year by year, it is hard for me to say that any of them are rare.

There was talk of abolishing the 50-cent denomination almost as soon as the national remembrance period ended and the practicalities of a denomination that was rarely used became the focus of some.

The half dollar obviously was not abolished, but in the 1980s and 1990s I used to get calls early in the year from the same person asking the same question: “Are they going to make half dollars this year?”

What are the rare ones?

For me it is easy to cite the issues of 1970 and 1987 that were made only for uncirculated coin sets, but current prices don’t make them seem rare.

There was a silver version in a matte finish sold with the Bobby Kennedy commemorative dollar in 1998. It has the highest price in grades generally accessible to most collectors.

Then you can run through whatever listings you can find for MS-69 and MS-70 pieces and see how that would change your mind.

While I know those ultra grades exist, they don’t quite seem like the same coin that I stood in a line at a bank to obtain back in 1964.

What are the rare ones?