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Half dollars rarely in my thoughts

I don’t find myself thinking about half dollars very often. They are almost never seen in circulation. If I happen to get one it is because someone at the Crystal Cafe was short of funds and happened to spend one for coffee.

My habit if I get a half dollar in change is to immediately turn it around by leaving it as part of the tip. I really don’t want to take it home.

There are so few uses for half dollars. They are not spendable in the average vending machine, so I cannot buy a morning coffee here in the break room with it.

The Mint, though, still sells rolls and bags of the coins and even though totals are small, there are some collectors who continue to buy them.

I bought a bag back in 2002. I wanted to see what might be in it. There really was nothing of interest in it for me, so over time, they gradually found their way into circulation. Yes, I took the loss for the amount I paid over face value, but that was better than storing the bag for the rest of my life.

So far this year, 4,072 bags of 200 coins have been sold. The price is $130.95 plus the $4.95 shipping charge. This gives the Mint revenue of more than $550,000. There have been 21,101 two-roll sets sold, which yield the Mint another $800,000 in revenue.

Of the roughly $1.35 million of revenue so far this year, about half a million is the amount over the face value of the coins sold.

That’s not a bad small business profit margin. And, the best part for the government is the face value of the coins is like a permanent loan  to help keep the Treasury solvent.

So collect away from the Mint’s point of view, and any buyers of these coins out there please tell me what appeals to you about these half dollars.

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4 Responses to Half dollars rarely in my thoughts

  1. Wesley says:

    I think what appeals to me most about half dollars is their uniqueness and semi-rarity. Almost nobody uses them, but they are still available (often but not always) from my local bank, and can be spent without feeling like you shouldn’t…often eliciting a remark about how they haven’t seen one of those in years! Or perhaps wondering what in the world it is. It is the sort of thing that might lead someone to become interested in collecting coins.

    The only reason I pick up the new date Kennedy’s is to continue completing a collection. However, I just buy one of each from a dealer and move on…I have no need or great desire for rolls or bags of them. The lower mintages could also cause them to have somewhat higher values in the long term…

  2. Anonymous says:

    What appeals to me about collecting half dollars is the continuation of the series. I would like to collect a full set of Kennedy’s, and as long as the Mint churns them out I will be collecting them. I would like to see commemorative half dollars like the classic ones. If the right subject could be found I think those would be very popular with collectors.

  3. JC says:

    I collect these mainly because of my father. I started collecting coins when I was 12. I still remember the first, a 1858 Flying Eagle Cent from a civil war reanactment. A few years later my dad entrusted me with his collection of half dollars. About 50 rolls of mixed Franklin and Kennedys. I am now 28 and still collect halve rolls. I like being able to buy them directly from the mint in the P & D sets. Before that I had to bank shop and usually turned up nothing exept worn slot machine halfs from the nearby casino.

  4. Vachon says:

    The most curious reaction I get is from older folks who ask me if the half dollar I just gave them is a dollar. They used to use halves in their daily lives!

    The shame for me is that Congress does not force the issue to get the coins circulating. They’re a forgotten coin by an accident of history whereby Congress changed the Franklin design during the last year of 90% silver coinage and by keeping some silver in the new issues until 1970. With all the 90% halves being pulled and the new Kennedys being both hoarded for sentimental and bullion value reasons, there were no other coins left. Had the denomination gone silverless in 1965, there’s a possibility the denomination would still be used today.

    It would be a simple matter of only allowing banks to purchase "fractional dollars" and getting an equal mix of quarters and halves for a few years until people got used to them again. Force vending machines as well to accept them (and dollar coins for that matter and $2 bills if they accept $5 bills and higher) too or have them suffer tax consequences.

    I work as a cashier and give half dollars out in change with no difficulty. The "rejection rate" is about the same as any other denomination. I don’t assume when someone asks for two fives instead of the ten I gave them that customers do not want five dollar bills so I’m not discouraged when I get the occasional "Can I have two quarters for this instead?".

    The argument that they are too big is subjective. Personally they feel like good, adult-sized coins to me. But the argument that they’re "too heavy" is complete nonsense seeing as how they weigh the same as two quarters or five dimes.

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