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Just what is it about the half?

I have always had a fond spot for half dollars, but it has been four decades since I have attempted to do anything serious with them.

Perhaps the warm and fuzzy memories of a childhood in the distant past when I became acquainted with Walking Liberty halves and Benjamin Franklin halves as gifts from the tooth fairy account for this.

Perhaps my experience of waiting in a long line at a local bank in March of 1964 to obtain my first examples of the new John F. Kennedy half dollar accounts for it.

It might even be the 1938-D Walker that I found in change when I was a paperboy, or even the frustration I felt for not having ordered more 1970 mint sets when it was announced that the only way to get that year’s issue, the 1970-D, was in the set.

Halves are peculiar things as they have been a part of my numismatic life from the beginning. They always are around, yet they never seem to quite live up to their potential.

That just might be their great strength.

They are simply part of collectors like me.

What else explains the consistent demand for bags and rolls of Kennedy half dollars that are being sold by the Mint to collectors?

I checked the latest sales figures.

The U.S. Mint has sold 1,395,760 of the 2012 coins in 200-coin bags and 40-coin two-roll sets so far this year without fanfare.

That works out to almost 700,000 coins each from Philadelphia and Denver that have been sold since May 15.

Last year collectors took a little more than 1.5 million each of “P” and “D” coins in bags and rolls.


Are we hoping for better days to come for the series, or is it that with each purchase we are keeping a little piece of our past alive, a memory of when the half dollar actually was used and had significant purchasing power?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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2 Responses to Just what is it about the half?

  1. kejun99 says:

    Hi Dave !
    Like you, I’ve always had a “thing” for the half.. The convenient size for easily handling.. easier on the eyes to enjoy the designs,, spot the date & mm. The full set of the Walking Libs gives satisfaction,, even though mostly well circulated.. It’s slightly surprising that more has not been noted about the obverse/reverse mm of the 1916 and 1917 walkers. Their popularity is probably in most part because they’ve given birth to today’s bullion dollar, the Ultra Popular SAEs, Uncs & Prfs.
    The Barbers are elusive and/or expensive now.. even the circulated. And then, there are the wonderful Commemorative halves.. They are my favorites.. , truly treasures… The older set primarily.. starting in ’92 and ending ’52. Some almost untouchable with the higher price of Silver. NOW, we can weep for not foreseeing the future, back when prices were reachable/realistic; this is our wake-up call to take heed of present commemoratives… and realize this is the “NOW”, we will be looking back on in the future,, the time to act and grab a sample…
    Kenyon Miers. Esperance NY

  2. kieferonline says:

    I really enjoy the size and weight of the half dollar. I think the format is almost perfect for artwork. Being a rather young coin collector, I don’t recall a time it was ever used in daily life. It simply was always a curio that was only spent after some guilt-ridden hesitation. I just wish this coin was more practical in daily life. For example, growing up many soft drinks cans cost exactly $.50 in vending machines. How perfect during the softdrink boom of the 1980s and 1990s! Only if the vendors would have embraced this coin. It would have been a great match up.

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