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Community Voice Responses (11/15/2011)

From the October 21st Numismatic E-Newsletter: Should half dollars be commemorative themes only from now on? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
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From the October 21st Numismatic E-Newsletter:

Should half dollars be commemorative themes only from now on? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

They might as well be commemorative in nature. I don’t see the half dollar ever becoming a circulating coin again. We’ll probably soon see the day when the cent and 5-cent pieces are no longer minted for circulation. Whatever is done with the half dollar, I hope there is a totally new design for the obverse and reverse. Let me further add that I hope there are completely new designs made for all circulating coins. How about getting back to symbols of Liberty and Freedom?
Bryan New Columbia, Ky.
I really think that the half dollars should be used as circulating coins. I also think that if we got rid of the $1 bill and used $1 coins, forcing people to use larger denomination coins, they would probably use half dollars more too.
Tara Bowman Brookfield, Conn.

I do favor the half dollar to be used as a base for commemoratives. Fifty years ago the half dollar circulated as commonly as the dollar bill, but not in today’s America.
For this reason alone would be sufficient. When was the last time did Mr. or Ms. Average receive one back in change at a grocery store or pharmacy? Can’t remember? Then it has been too long.
Gary Kess Escalon, Calif.

In this world of debit cards and smart phones, money will be used less and the half dollar is rarely used now. Making it a commemorative is the way to go.
John Cawley Bath, Pa.

From a purely selfish point of view, no. I love going through halves for silver and great die varieties. I also love to use them as tips which often starts great numismatic conversations.
However, almost nobody outside of active numismatists and coin dealers has any idea what they are. From a practical point of view, it is time we rid ourselves of the denomination with the exception of commemoratives which should not be used as circulating coins. This may even lead to a greater chance of mass circulation of the dollar coins.
Mike Ellis Camilla, Ga.

Good question. On the one hand, commemoratives were traditionally half dollars. It’s bigger than a quarter or a dollar coin, so it could be a potentially better palette for a commemorative design. And Kennedy halves rarely circulate, so they’re de facto commemoratives anyway.
On the other hand, we have too many other commemoratives already: quarters, dollars, etc., so do we need yet another commemorative series? And what would we commemorate? Great events during the Kennedy presidency, like declaring the space race? I guess why not, as long as they don’t mess with the obverse.
Sandy Campbell New York, N.Y.

Although I realize that half dollars have little place in present day commerce, I’d hate to see them done away with entirely. This of course is a very selfish point of view because halves are my main collecting interest. In my way of thinking, discontinuing halves would diminish the desirability of yearly proof and mint sets.
Bruce B. Hayes Fairfield, Conn.

Should half dollars be commemorative themes only from now on? Good question.
I feel that the half dollar is probably one of the least used coins and probably doesn’t have any sort of huge demand other than for collectors. Turning it into commemorative themes only from now on seems to make sense, or they could use it instead of the quarter for the America The Beautiful series or the like.
When I was in my teens in California, the half dollar was widely circulated and was simply a part of normal transactions, but then 1964 came along to change all that.
Dennis Post Minneapolis, Minn.

Yes, they should be commemoratives.
Like the proverbial voice calling out from the wilderness, I think our entire coinage system should be reorganized to an eight coin system similar to the euro system.
Chris Budesa West Orange, N.J.
Yes. They should be commemorative themes, after all none have been minted for circulation in 10 years, so it’s already a commemorative coin anyway. Might as well make the conversion complete.
Jim Haefner Rochester, N.Y.

The Kennedy half is way better than the half dollar commems issued as modern commems, which are boring at best. Now if they were made of silver, that would make them attractive as were the old halves of our fathers’ time. Coins made of the sandwich method are not exciting and a real waste of time to collect with the values the Mint places on them a bit over board. They tend to be too busy in design. The Bald Eagle 50 cent piece is a good example of an uninspired coin. Each year the mint creates new ways to entice the collector to “keep current” by minting coins which to keep a set complete, forces one to play along.
That said, it would be nice to see the Kennedy retired so that one can say “I have the entire set,” much like one can do for the Peace dollars or the Ike dollars, or Susan B. Anthony dollars or even the state quarters.
Just like the American Silver Eagle series. To collect them means that one has to buy the circulation piece, the burnished piece, a proof, and one from the San Francisco mint this year. For the latter, we were forced to buy a slabbed one to meet the requirement as the little collectors were sidelined by the Mint.
Alan Hepler Laytonsville, Md.

I vote for half dollars to be only commemoratives. I have not spent a half dollar coin in, I bet, 10 years. They are just too heavy to carry around in your pocket. No need for them as coin machines usually take only up to quarters.
George Arthur, Cotati, Calif.

As a commem collector, this would take away from the silver commems sold each year. Anyone can get a silver half in the silver proof set or a regular half in a mint set. They haven’t been produced for circulation in so long they might as well be commems now for the common collector, unless you’re a dealer and buy them by the bag.
Looking at the total of the Army and Medal of Honor Commems of this year the sales are way down. Mostly it’s the cost of silver. I have one of every one ever minted including the older ones, so I’ll buy each year anyway, to keep the set going.
There are more important actions that need to be taken. Dropping the cent and abolishing the paper dollar would be a good start. I love using the dollar coins. Easy to reach in your pocket for a coin for a cup of coffee or soft drink then it is to get out your wallet and dig for a dollar bill. I use half dollars for tips every now and then and people don’t know what they are. I had a girl call her supervisor at a local McDonalds to see if she could accept a half dollar. She had never seen one. What a pity.
Don DeLancey Dallastown, Pa.
2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. It would be a good occasion to either redesign or eliminate the half dollar from American coinage. We do not need a commemorative half with the same design for another half century.
Given the purchasing power of today’s coinage the time has come for radical change. Eliminate the cent, nickel and dime. Keep the quarter, downsize the half dollar, eliminate the dollar bill and mint only quarters, halves and dollars. If this is too inflationary, go back to the twenty cent coin and eliminate the quarter. The teeming pile of cents, nickels and dimes in my car’s cup holder and on my night stand are more nuisance than necessary for daily commerce.
Timothy Scharr Aviston, Ill.

Why would one consider the Kennedy Half as anything more than a failed effort? There are enough in circulation now that the government would be catering only to the collector by making the coin a commemorative. I’ll bet most collectors have a tray filled with them.
They have, basically, only face value, excepting the silver proofs. The most prized was the original issue, the 1964 90 percent coin. Since then, it has been all downhill. Just stop production, 47 years of presence in the commercial market is enough. If they desire a half dollar coin for commerce, let’s come up with a new one that is more popular, if at all possible.
The half dollar coin, like the dollar coin, is a dying breed. Americans like the use of paper and lightweight coins, the quarter the largest coin they like to carry. This is history repeating.
Eastern dwellers did not like the dollar coin during the early 20th century, it was a western coin, highly prized in gaming meccas, plus pushed by silver interests. Since the silver has been removed from it, the dollar and the half, are prized by no one.
Ray Mueller Address withheld

I think I would like the Kennedy half to continue until 2014. If it is kept as a commemorative, I would like to see only silver half dollars. I think the only way the half dollar size coin will ever circulate again is with a change to a $5 coin. We have had a lot of new coin designs since 1999: 60 new quarter designs, 16 new presidential designs and two new Sacagawea reverses. All that circulate are nickels, dimes and quarters. I know designs don’t drive circulation. Denominations dictate what we like. Drop the cent, nickel and the dollar bill. Get the dollar coins out of costly storage and into circulation. The idea of using $2 bills for commemoratives sounds good to me. A 50-year run of Kennedy halves is enough.
Donald Cantrell Address withheld