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Viewpoint: Too many special Kennedy halves

 (Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

By Todd Starbuck

Just a note to thank you for the heads-up in your Nov. 23 “Best of Buzz” column that the Mint intends “to go beyond what the (Apollo 11) law authorizes and create a special two-coin half dollar set.”

One coin will be the Apollo 11 clad half and the other “an (enhanced?) reverse proof 2019 Kennedy half dollar.” Hmmm, wasn’t the 2018-S reverse proof clad half enhanced enough? With mintage of just 100,000 sets, a quick sellout seems likely, especially if no ordering limits are placed at the outset.

You may recall earlier this year you got me some information on the 2018-S silver reverse proof set that popped up on the Mint’s product schedule without much fanfare. The set proved popular and sold out quickly. A windfall for the Mint and also the grading services, which everyone rushed to to get their coins slabbed.

I was right with the pack, standing at the counter at the Mint gift shop in Washington, D.C., at noon on the day of the set’s release. I then turned it over to NGC at the World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia, and the coins were slabbed as first releases A nice-looking set, but all in all a rather expensive proposition. It looks like the Mint is setting up a replay for 2019, assuming I am lucky enough to snag one of these sets.

This will be the third “special set” in three years. Excuse me for feeling like a cash cow for the Mint. As a Kennedy half and Lincoln cent collector, I’m more or less compelled to obtain these coins to keep my sets complete. The Mint is well aware of that and seems intent on riding this horse as far and as fast as it can. I can’t quit now, and although I do like the coins, I feel like I’m being taken.

While talking Kennedy halves, I love them, but it’s time to lower the curtain on this series. 2014 or 2017 (100th anniversary of JFK’s birth) offered good opportunities to do so, but the Mint seems determined to exploit it for as long as it can, producing four (or five or 11!) different “must have” Kennedy halves every year. The set became unwieldy 15 or 20 years ago.

If we need a half for the annual proof and mint sets, then the Mint can come up with something new going forward. Granted, tampering with the current formula would be risky, but this has been going on long enough in my opinion.

Looks like I got a little carried away with my “note,” but maybe I’ve livened up your inbox for a few moments.

This “Viewpoint” was written by hobyists Todd Starbuck of Arlington, Va.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 5225 Joerns Drive, Suite 2, Stevens Point WI, 54481. Send email to

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