Today, July 24, 2014 at 12:00 Noon ET, the United States Mint will begin accepting orders for the 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar Uncirculated Coin Set. This is the first of three special numismatic products which will be released to celebrate the milestone for the series.
The Kennedy Half Dollar was first issued in 1964, authorized following the assassination of President Kennedy. The obverse designed by Gilroy Roberts featured a portrait of Kennedy based on his inaugural medal. The reverse was designed by Frank Gasparro based on the Presidential Seal. A large portion of the initial mintage for the coin was hoarded by the public, limiting the number of pieces that actually circulated. The tendency for the public to save rather than spend the Kennedy Half Dollar is often linked to the decline in use for denomination. Since 2002, the half dollar has only been struck to fulfill demand from collectors and not minted for general circulation.
Since the launch of the Kennedy Half Dollar series, the obverse portrait has undergone a series of changes leaving the current portrait with a much different appearance than the original. Shown above is an image of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar next to the 2014 Kennedy Half Dollar, which was released earlier this year within bags, rolls, and annual sets.
The United States Mint has indicated that the coins included in the special 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar products will feature the original 1964 Kennedy portrait design. This will make the coins distinct and separate issues from those released previously.
The 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar Uncirculated Coin Set released today includes one coin each from the Philadelphia and Denver mint facilities. These coins contain the original 1964 portrait design on the obverse and carry the 2014 date to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the series. Each coin is struck in copper-nickel clad composition with an uncirculated finish.
Packaging for the product consists of a folder and coin card. The folder includes an enlarged partial image of the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar and information on the 50th anniversary of the series. The two coins of the set are mounted on a card allowing both the obverse and reverse to be viewed. The back of the card includes information on the coin design, specifications, and a certificate of authenticity.
Each set is priced at $9.95 with an ordering limit of five sets per household. The Mint has indicated that the ordering limit will be re-evaluated and adjusted as necessary during the period of availability. A maximum mintage or production limit for the sets has not been established.
Leading up to the start of sales, the Mint indicated that 37,000 of the sets would be available and ready for immediate shipment to avoid delays in fulfillment. Based on the first sales week, the Mint will evaluate demand and adjust production plans accordingly.
Anticipating a high level of initial demand, the US Mint will be utilizing their “online waiting room” in an attempt to alleviate issues related to heavy traffic to their website. The waiting room will be deployed at 11:45 AM. The last time the Mint used the waiting room was for the high profile launch of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. Based on my personal experience, collectors should go to the online catalog at 11:45 AM in order to get to the front of the line within the waiting room and minimize wait time. The sets may also be ordered from the US Mint by phone at 1-800-USA-MINT.
Forthcoming products to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Half Dollar include a 3/4 oz 24 karat gold proof coin scheduled for release on August 5, 2014 and a four coin set of 90% silver coins each struck at a different mint facility with a different finish. The four coin set will be released in the fall.