The United States Mint has started accepting orders for the 24 karat gold 2014 Kennedy Half Dollars, specially issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the series.
Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, legislation was passed which authorized Kennedy to appear on the half dollar. Production for circulation would begin on February 11, 1964, with the first coins made available to the public on March 24, 1964. The new half dollars were immediately hoarded by the pubic who were eager to obtain a memento of the the late President.
The Kennedy Half Dollar features an obverse portrait designed by United States Mint Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts. The portrait was based on an existing bust of Kennedy he had prepared for his presidential medal. The design had incorporated changes performed following an in person meeting with President Kennedy and later suggestions made by his widow. The reverse design by United States Mint Sculptor Engraver Frank Gasparro was based on the Presidential Seal and features the heraldic eagle a shield at its breast and talons grasping a bundle of arrows and olive branch.
The 50th Anniversary 24 Karat Gold Kennedy Half Dollar features a restored portrait of President Kennedy, which brings the obverse of the coin design back to its original appearance. The coin carries the dual date of “1964-2014” representing the first year of the series and the current date. On the reverse, an indication of the precious metal weight and purity has been added. The “W” mint mark appears to signify mintage at the West Point Mint.
Each coin is struck in 3/4 of a troy ounce of 24 karat (99.99% pure) gold with a proof finish. The coins have a diameter of 1.205 inches (30.61 mm) and thickness of 0.085 inch (2.16 mm), matching the specifications of a standard half dollar.
The coins are encapsulated and packaged in a single custom designed, brown mahogany hardwood presentation case with removable coin well. A certificate of authenticity is also included.
For the start of sales, the coins are priced at $1,240 each. This price may be adjusted throughout the course of sales based on the average market price of gold. Initial ordering limits of five coins per household for web and phone orders and one coin per person for retail locations has been imposed.
Retail locations include the gift shops located at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, the sales counter at Mint headquarters in Washington DC, and the sales booth at the Chicago World’s Fair of Money held in Rosemont, Illinois from August 5-9, 2014. A total quantity of 2,500 coins will be at the World’s Fair of Money, offered at a rate of 500 coins per day. The remaining retail locations will have an initial quantity of 500 coins available and an additional 100 units per day for the first three days after the product launch.
The United States Mint has indicated that an initial inventory of 40,000 coins will be available for sale through the various channels. The Mint will evaluate activity during the first week and make adjustments to its production schedule accordingly.
The 24 karat gold Kennedy Half Dollar represents the second of three special products issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the series. An uncirculated coin set was previously released containing copper-nickel clad composition half dollars struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. A silver coin collection will be released in the fall containing four 90% silver half dollars featuring four different finishes.
I’ve been a regular subscriber to several different mint sets for years. I’m not a wealthy collector, so $1300 for a gold coin is too expensive for me. I wrote to the mint and asked them to consider a 1/10, 1/20, or 1/25 oz. gold coin (as Canada has) for the Kennedy so those of us that can’t afford the bigger coin might be able to buy one. No one responded. I think there would be a lot of collectors that would buy the smaller coins.
If you’re a collector of the Kennedy series, the coin is a must-own. It’s brilliant. No doubt about that. However, buyer beware: because of the way the Mint has structured sales (no mintage limit to date), this issue will not be rare in any grade. And for those of you looking for a “first strike” opportunity, unless you were lucky enough to be at the two big coin shows where they were available, or, were able to use lightning-fast Internet connection speed in the first nanosecond of the “waiting room,” forget it. I have a T-1 line at work (with 35mgbs per second speed) got into the waiting room at precisely 8:45 a.m. PDT, and my wait was 75 minutes. When my turn came up, the coins I ordered came with an email confirmation receipt that said “Backordered to Sept. 8.” Translated: the Sept. 8 date is 3 days outside the 30-day requirement that PCGS has for first-strike designation on slabbed coinage. I’m not arguing for or against “first strike” or “first issue” designations by these coin grading services, — they are a clever marketing scheme — but those coins are the ones that do command a premium in the aftermarket. Unfortunately, the rest will be trading at or near bullion value.
Collectors and especially A.N.A. Members have a right to know the “dealer of the year” paid hundreds of people or stand in line so he could corner the market on these coins.