By William H. Brownstein
In my opinion a 50th anniversary of the Kennedy half dollar commemorative issue would be meaningless.
I come to that conclusion because the fact that its issuance date of 1964, which is the first year that the Kennedy half dollar was minted, means nothing and has no historic significance other than it was the year that the Franklin half dollar was eliminated and replaced with the Kennedy half dollar in commemoration of his assassination the prior year.
Kennedy was born in 1917. He died in 1963 and the only issuance occurred in 1964 due to logistics reasons associated with approving the issue and preparing the dies.
If there is to be a commemorative my opinion is that it should be issued to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Not to say that there is any sense in what Congress approves or what the U.S. Mint produces.
I point to the one-ounce gold $20 issued in 2009 to commemorate the Saint- Gaudens 1907 High Relief. That coin was a beautiful example of a high relief of the double thickness 1907 Saint-Gaudens gold piece, but why wasn’t it issued in 2007, the 100th anniversary of the first and only issue of a high-relief Saint Gaudens?
FDR has been on the dime since 1946 and the only thing unusual done on the 50th anniversary of that coin’s issuance was making a coin with a “W” mintmark. There was a gold commemorative $5 coin with FDR on it also.
Washington is on the quarter dollar since 1932 and there was nothing to mark the 50th anniversary of that coin in 1982. There was $5 gold coin with Washington’s portrait on it in 1999, one of my favorite coins I might add.
The same is true of Jefferson but he didn’t warrant a gold coin when a commemorative set was made with his likeness, although that set included a first, a Matte nickel.
So what’s all hype about a 2014 Kennedy half dollar?
In my opinion 50 years seems to be long enough for JFK to grace our half dollar. Maybe it’s time to come up with an entirely new design and possibly we will actually see half dollars back in circulation.
Another thought that will enrich the Treasury and should be accepted with wide popularity is to follow the lead of our northern neighbors and issue high denomination precious metal coins at face value. For the past few years Canada has issued $100 and $20 silver coins in limited quantities at face value. The mintages of the $20 coins are in the range of 200,000 to 225,000 and the $100 coins at 50,000 each. However, since the $20 coin only has about a quarter ounce of silver and the $100 coin one ounce, for each coin issued, and undoubtedly stashed away for either investment or gifts, the Canadian mint makes a substantial profit. The consumer can use them for transactions and the profits made on their issuance is substantial. It appears to be a no loss situation, even though I doubt many of those are actually circulated.
If the U.S. Mint issues a three-quarter ounce gold Kennedy commemorative honoring the 100th anniversary of President Kennedy’s birth in 2017, and it charges a 100 percent premium over its gold content, both collectors and the Mint will make out. The coin can have a face value of $1,500 and have legal-tender status and anyone who has one can eventually use it to buy goods and services. In reality, however, I would imagine that any of the high denomination coins will be stashed away and never see the light of day.
Finally, as with other commemorative issues honoring past presidents and famous Americans, the Mint can issue commemorative coins honoring JFK, with those in the same metal content as issued for the likes of George Washington and FDR, maybe instead of a $5 nominal value having a $500 value and sold at face value.
This “Viewpoint” was written by William H. Brownstein, a southern California hobbyist.
Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to email@example.com.
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