U.S. Coin Price Guide

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Low mintages, not rare
By Steve Roach

2008 was a low mintage year for Kennedy half dollars with 1.7 million produced at each of the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. But does this mean that they're instant rarities?

They were produced for circulation and sold to collectors and dealers directly from the Mint in rolls and bags, and there is sufficient supply to meet demand. They can be purchased from dealers for around $2 each.

Their mintages are lower than other issues struck just for collectors: the 1970-D half dollar at 2.15 million (which trades for around $15 in Mint State 63) and the 1987-P and 1987-D issues with 2.89 million each (which trade for around $5 in MS-63).

Instant rarities? Likely no. Rarities, ever? No again.

Most of the collectors-only issues will remain Uncirculated. And, the Kennedy half dollar series is a tough one for collectors to get excited about.

With few being circulated, most members of the public have forgotten that the Kennedy half dollar exists and is still being produced. This limits the excitement that the series can generate, which in turn, limits the potential for appreciation.

Several genuinely rare issues reside at the highest end of the Kennedy half dollar market. Deep cameo Proof 1964 Kennedy, Accented Hair half dollars are coveted. The variety refers to a design type where Kennedy's hair is well-defined with strong detail, and is also characterized by a broken serif on the i in liberty.

Rarely found with deep cameo contrast, it is considered a major variety in the grading service registry sets. A Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 68 deep cameo example sold at auction for $11,500 this past January.

Also at the highest end are rare 1964 Kennedy half dollars with the Special Mint set finish usually found on the SMS issues from 1965 to 1967. The 1964 coins seem to have held their value at the $10,000 level when offered at auction.

Judging by auction results, conditionally rare issues graded Proof 70 deep cameo have softened around 25 percent in the past year. This trend can be seen in many conditionally rare but ultimately common modern issues.


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