This article first appeared in the magazine
Hartselle Living, published in Hartselle, Ala. Reprinted here with
the author's permission.
A little known annual event, National Coin Week,
is sponsored by the American Numismatic Association of Colorado
The ANA was chartered by Congress in 1912 and is
a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people to study and
collect money and related items.
This year National Coin Week will be observed
April 20-26, and the theme is "Coin & Country: Celebrating
Civic Service" and the
50th anniversary of the Kennedy Half
In President Kennedy's inaugural address, he
inspired all of us to recognize the importance of civic action and
public service. The President said, "Ask not what your country can
do for you - ask what you can do for your country." These words
were a challenge for each of us to do something for the public
Shortly after the popular young president was
assassinated on November 22, 1963, there were demands on Congress
to honor him on a coin. The quarter and half dollar were under
consideration. It was decided by the end of December 1963 to honor
President Kennedy on the half dollar, the largest coin in
The designer of the obverse, was Gilroy Roberts,
who was a sculptor for the U.S. Mint. Roberts used the portrait he
had designed for a presidential medal to be used for the new half
The reverse was designed by Roberts' assistant
Frank Gasparro, who also was a sculptor at the U.S. Mint. The
reverse design is based on the presidential seal and has a field of
50 stars in a circle around the eagle. This coin has more stars
than any other circulating coin.
The late President's widow, Jacqueline, and his
brother, Bobby, both approved the design for the new
By January 30, 1964, the U.S. Mints in Denver
and Philadelphia began striking the new half dollar in 90 percent
silver. Pictures of the new half dollar were printed in all the
newspapers and the public was eager to own one when they became
Finally, it was announced by the U.S. Mint that
banks would release the new coins to the public on March 24, 1964.
People stood in long lines waiting for the banks to open with some
lines extending around several blocks.
Eager citizens exhausted the supply of half
dollars on the first day and many had to wait until the Mint could
produce more coins. The Mint output for 1964 half dollars was a
total of $429 million coins from both mints.
From 1965 through 1970 the half dollars were
minted in 40 percent silver. After 1970 they were made with new
clad construction consisting of a copper core sandwiched between a
copper nickel alloy.
Kennedy half dollars were last struck for
circulation in 2002. After 2002, the Kennedy half dollars are being
minted only for collectors and must be purchased directly from the
U.S. Mint. Today there are very few half dollars in
To recognize the 50th
anniversary of the Kennedy Half Dollar, a special exhibit
will be on display at Bank Independent in Hartselle from April
21-25 during regular business hours.
According to Bank Independent Vice President
David Burleson, "We are proud to host this exhibit honoring 50
years of the Kennedy Half Dollar during National Coin
A special drawing will be held on Friday at 3
p.m. and three winners will receive a genuine 1964 Proof Kennedy
Half Dollar. A proof coin is made from highly polished dies and it
gives the coin a mirror-like finish. Proof coins are highly prized
coins by collectors. Anyone can enter the drawing by filling out an
entry card and placing it in the provided box. Any duplicate
entries will disqualify a winner.
To commemorate this 50-year milestone for the
Kennedy Half Dollar, the U.S. Mint announced it will make a
double-dated half dollar in .999 pure gold for collectors. Each
coin will bear the dates 1964-2014. The price has not been set as
of the deadline of this publication.
Be sure to register at Bank Independent for an
opportunity to win a proof 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar.