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Community Voice Responses (01/24/2012)

From the Dec. 30 Numismatic News E-Newsletter: Should the Mint stop making modern commemorative halves? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor, Dave Harper.

No the Mint shouldn’t stop making them. I just think it should offer less of an assortment of these products. Maybe concentrate on one really good commemorative idea and heavily promote it, instead of several mediocre designs. I personally am not a big collector of commemorative coins, but maybe one really nice coin design would spark my interest. I couldn’t afford to collect everything it offers in a year in every composition it’s offered in and don’t know to many collectors who could. So I don’t think the Mint should completely stop producing them but cut it down to one a year. And maybe more people would consider starting a set.
David Tortorice Buffalo, N.Y.
Funny, the photo on your question is a Kennedy half, which I did not know was in the commemorative category. Technically, it is a memorial piece, not a commemorative piece. Yes, so long as the Mint can produce an artistic design and make a profit, commemorative halves should be continued. The Kennedy is another story. I think that if the Mint dropped the cent, made a steel 5-cent piece, and stopped the BEP from making $1 bills, then the Kennedy might make a reappearance. Unless the BEP stops making $1 notes, the Kennedy should be for numismatic and bullion purposes only.
Jerome J. Ghigliotti, Jr. Address withheld

Editor’s note: Thanks for pointing out the incorrect photo.
I think the Mint should continue to make commemorative halves. They are affordable for the low budget collector, and you can pick some of them up certified for little more than the original price.
Mike Heidman Eveleth, Minn.
Stop minting them.
Charles Coleman Sinking Spring, Pa.

Personally, I think the Mint should still mint commemorative half dollars, especially if the metallic material is basal. However, I personally think that the Mint should slow down on minting silver and gold commemorative coins, if not stop for a while. The Mint’s attitude with these particular coins does not reflect the economic conditions. There are just too many. Who really can buy these in large numbers? Also, lately, the subjects on the silver and gold commemorative coins are no longer interesting. Though the subjects are noteworthy of importance themselves, I do not see why they should be placed on these overpriced precious-metal commemorative coins. At least, with the basal-material commemorative half dollars, they can be affordable, at least.
Adam Baig Chicago, Ill.
Yes, keep them coming
Eldridge Norton Nantucket, Mass.

Should the Mint stop making modern commemorative halves? I say no, but most would argue with me on that one. Today, if it’s not 90 percent silver, if it’s clad only, and you’re trying to sell one, people don’t want it because it’s not silver, and come up with a excuse that it’s common, or they don’t want modern stuff. All they wanted it for in the first place, if it were silver, is to buy it for a few dollars, and then melt it down into bars of silver.
Is that for passing it down to kids, and getting them into the hobby, or is it for greed, for mounds of melted silver? You tell me.
Chuck Schroeder St. Petersburg, Fla.

At the present time, all of our coins are commemoratives, therefore, I think the production of commemorative coins should continue. However, the commemorative half dollars, besides the Kennedy half, should be limited to only about two or three a year. The current run of commemorative half dollars is very similar to the first era of commemorative halves (1893-1956) and the old Soviet Russia stamp program from the 1950s to the ‘90s, when just about anything was commemorated.
The government should do something to get the Kennedy half dollar circulating. The Federal Reserve Bank should advise all banks to issue half dollars when an amount of 50 cents or more, up to a dollar is requested. Instead of giving two quarters, hand the customer a half dollar; 75 cents will get a half and a quarter, etc. A paper dollar could also get two halves or a dollar coin. Whenever I get a roll or two of pennies to take to the bank, I ask for half dollars.
It gives me an opportunity to talk about coins to the young clerks who have no idea what a half dollar is – until I show up with one.
Bill Tuttle Cleveland, Ohio

With the significant rise in the price of silver, the intrinsic content of a silver dollar may well be unaffordable for younger and less affluent individuals whom we should welcome to the hobby. Therefore, the continuation of commemorative half dollars would be useful to include these budding numismatists, many of whom may become hooked into the hobby this way. The size of the coin was adequately large to produce almost 50 designs in the 1892-1954 era.
The main problem with the 2011 commemorative series was the jump in issue price as a result of speculation in the commodities market.
While the commemorative halves should be continued, the Mint may wish to place the Kennedy half on hiatus. The coin has never circulated, and is currently used only in casinos as gaming chips.
The continued production of a couple of million coins annually for rolls of non-circulating clad pieces is a waste of time, energy and money. While not as consequential as the latest dollar coin fiasco, it involves the production of non-circulating legal tender pieces that are not even given the pretense of being units of currency.
The Kennedy halves should be stopped until the gaming industry has new requirements, and then an actual run of coins for use in circulation should be again undertaken.
Joel Kahn Green Valley, Calif.

I think so. The Mint should take about a five-year break and then maybe come back and show a more intensive focus toward what they are doing and try to produce halves (and all commemoratives for that matter) that display much better art with a little more thought behind the designs. To me, so much of what is produced today is an insult to the Mint’s storied history, collectors, the public in general and the nation as a whole. Allow me to further state that there are just too many coin programs that are churned out that flood the country in overkill. With fewer programs maybe there would be more pride and time taken in what is produced.
Bryan New Columbia, Ky.
I think the commemoratives should continue but the half dollar itself is no longer needed in circulation.
Steve Janka Chicago, Ill.
Yes, the Mint should definitely cease making half dollar commemoratives. They are a waste of time and money, and are still being made only for political reasons. This could save the treasury much more money than the bit to be saved by cutting down on the number of presidential coins.
Griff Carnes Kerrville, Texas

No, but they should be made of silver.
Robert Lynch Maryland

I say keep them coming.
Chuck Landess Evensville, Tenn.

Yes. The Mint should stop making modern commemorative halves. As an alternative, in place of the halves, Kennedy’ profile should be the new face of the presidential dollar coins. Doing so would breath new life into the dollar coin distribution, and would probably be the catalyst needed to encourage American to replace dollar bills with dollar coins. What American wouldn’t want to have the privilege of honoring John F. Kennedy in this manner and be able to share in that honor by circulating the new dollar coin that displays his portrait?
Mercury R. Williams Seattle, Wash.

The Mint should quit making regular issue JFK halves and create an annual half dollar commemorative program with the coins in silver.
On completion of the America The Beautiful quarters series, they should stop making commemorative quarters, the quarter is simply too small for an appropriate commemorative issue. Can you imagine, though, the ATB coins if they were on half dollars? They would be beautiful coins.
Same would apply to the dollar coin commemorative program. Both the quarters and dollars are ‘circulating’ commemorative programs, but neither of them really circulates (I have never received a dollar coin of any sort in change and I believe I’ve only had one or two of the ATB quarters). The half dollar already does not circulate, we are wasting money making JFK half dollars and it is a far superior platform for commemoratives than either the quarter or dollar coin.
T. Dvorak Leawood, Kan.