Today, August 5, 2014 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin accepting orders for the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar Gold Proof Coin. This will represent the second of three special numismatic products issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the series.
The Kennedy Half Dollar was launched in 1964 to memorialize President John F. Kennedy following his assassination. The pieces were quickly hoarded by the public who were eager to obtain a memento of the late President. This early hoarding behavior served to diminish the appearance of the denomination within circulation. Mintages for the half dollar had fallen to minimal levels by the 1980’s and 1990’s, and from 2002 onwards the coins have only been struck to fulfill demand from collectors.
Over the course of the series, there have been modifications to the design resulting in recent issues carrying a much different appearance than the original. For the 50th anniversary products, the United States Mint restored the original obverse portrait design.
The obverse of the gold proof half dollar features the original portrait of President Kennedy designed by United States Mint Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts based on the presidential medal he had previously prepared. The inscriptions include “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and the dual date of “1964-2014”. The gold half dollar is the only Kennedy product this year to carry the dual date.
The reverse design was created by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Frank Gasparro based on the Presidential Seal. A heraldic eagle appears at center with a shield on its breast and talons clasping an olive branch and bundle of arrows. The eagle’s beak holds a scroll reading “E Pluribus Unum”. A ring of 50 stars surrounds the eagle representing the 50 states. Additional inscriptions include “United States of America”, “Half Dollar”, and the precious metal weight and purity in small lettering beneath the eagle. The “W” mint mark for West Point appears in the original location next to the stem of the olive branch.
Each coin is struck in 3/4 of a troy ounce of .9999 fine gold to proof quality. The coins have a diameter of 1.205 inches (30.61 mm) and thickness of 0.085 inch (2.16 mm). This is the same diameter and thickness as the standard half dollar.
Packaging for the coins consists of a custom designed, brown mahogany hardwood presentation case with a removable coin well. Each coin is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
The 2014 Kennedy Half Dollar Gold Proof Coin carries an initial price of $1,240 per coin. During the course of the offering, the price will remain subject to change based on a grid which uses the average weekly market price of gold. The initial price is based on an average gold price within the $1,250 to $1,299.99 range.
There is no stated mintage limit for the offering, however the Mint has indicated that an initial inventory of 40,000 coins has been produced and will be made available for sale through various sales channels. The Mint will evaluate sales activity during the first week of availability and make adjustments to its production schedule accordingly.
An initial ordering limit of five coins per household will apply to web and phone orders. An ordering limit of one coin per person will apply to over the counter sales. This reduced limit was announced late last week.
For website sales, the Mint will be using their online waiting room to help deal with the expected influx of traffic. The waiting room will be deployed at 11:45 AM ET ahead of the release.
There will be four retail locations carrying the gold Kennedy Half Dollars. A total quantity of 2,500 of the coins will be available at the Chicago World’s Fair of Money held in Rosemont, Illinois from August 5-9, 2014. These will be offered at a rate of 500 coins per day. The ANA had previously announced public safety procedures for those seeking to purchase the coins.
The remaining retail locations will include the gift shops at the Philadelphia and Denver Mint and the sales counter at US Mint headquarters in Washington, DC. Each of these locations will have an initial quantity of 500 coins available. There will be an additional 100 units per day made available at each location for the first three days after the product launch.
History and Considerations
Anticipation for this year’s special 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar products has been building for some time. Late last year, a survey distributed to customers raised the possibility of a range of products with different combinations or mint marks, finishes, and compositions. In February of this year, the Mint provided the CCAC and CFA with mockup images of a potential 24 karat gold version. Some changes to the final product appear to have been made in response to feedback provided by the CCAC, including the use of the dual date, moving the mint mark location to the reverse, and adding an inscription of the precious metal weight and purity.
The final 50th anniversary products were announced in June, and included clad, silver, and gold coins. This covered a spectrum of prices from the affordable clad set to the mid-priced silver set to the high-end gold coin.
The 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half dollar Uncirculated Coin Set was released on July 24 and included uncirculated clad coins from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The two coins were struck with the original portrait design, making them distinct and separate issues from the previously released 2014 half dollars. Despite an ordering limit of five sets per household, initial sales far exceeded the Mint’s initial production level of 37,000 sets. After the first day, sales had reached 68,974 units. As of the latest sales report, sales have reached 84,593 units.
After today’s release of the 24 karat gold coin, the Mint will release the silver coin collection, which includes four 90% silver half dollars struck at different mint facilities with different finishes. The coins will include a proof from Philadelphia, an enhanced uncirculated coin from San Francisco, an uncirculated coin from Denver, and a reverse proof from West Point. The set is expected to be released in the fall.
The 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar Gold Proof Coin seems poised for an extremely strong opening. Over the past few weeks, there has been a high level of buzz and anticipation surrounding today’s launch. Arguably, more than any other current coin series, the Kennedy Half Dollar holds a personal connection and significance to Americans. This may very well translate into a larger audience for the 50th anniversary products than traditional coin collectors.
As a few points of reference from previous special gold products, the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Gold Coins had sold out of the combined 50,000 maximum mintage for proof and uncirculated versions in less than 24 hours. There was an ordering limit of 50 coins for each version. The 2013 Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo, which were offered without an ordering limit during a four week window, had opening day sales of 21,009 and eventually reached final sales of 47,836 units. The 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin had opening day sales of 18,173 units despite an ordering limit of one per household. By the end of the year, total sales reached 115,178.
Finally, there has been a previous special Kennedy product, although it was released more than a decade ago. The 1998 Kennedy Collectors Set, which included a special matte finish silver half dollar, was offered during a four week ordering window. Final sales reached approximately 62,000 units.