Mr_Norris_LKNS's Blog

13 Sep 2019

Half Dollar Roll Hunting

Collecting Tips | Mr_Norris_LKNS

Recently I made some hobby money that I was not going to need to spend for awhile. Rather than just let it sit idle (interest rates on savings accounts are still pretty low), I thought I'd use it for something I have wanted to try for awhile: roll searching.

For the uninitiated, roll searching is where you get some coins that have been rolled into those paper or plastic tubes, either by private people or businesses depositing their spare change at the bank, or by the cash companies like Brinks who supply banks with large quantities of change; and you open them up and look through them for rarities, or nice condition examples you need to complete your circulated collections. Sometimes you have interesting finds; other times not so much.

I have roll searched US cents before and found a nice variety of cents; but I had never attempted to search "with the big dogs" of half dollars.

If you want to roll-search in currently common denominations, it's not hard to get as many rolls as you'd like: banks keep cents, nickels, dimes, and quarters on hand all the time, as merchant businesses use and need large quantities of these. If you wanted a huge quantity, though, you might need to order a whole box of them, which is a special order the bank places with their change supplier; for example Brinks (yep, same folks you see driving armored delivery trucks to banks). This is especially true with denominations that are less common. You might have to place a special order to get small-size dollar coins. You definitely have to do it to get half dollars. The minimum order at my financial institution was one box, which is 50 rolls. Each roll of halves contains 20 coins; so that's 1,000 half dollar coins.

Well, I ordered some, and I redeposited most of them already (as you would expect)... and I doubt I'll do it again anytime soon. Out of $500 worth of coins, I found exactly one 1967 40% silver coin, and 3 or 4 post-circulation issue coins (they stopped making halves for circulation after 2001). I did almost manage to assemble a complete set of circulated clad business strikes, most of which were not in too bad of condition. That set is worth almost exactly face value. I might keep it, out of sentimentality regarding Kennedy halves... or I might break down and buy lunch with it someday.

I don’t think I expected much more than this when I started out role searching Kennedy halves. There’s always that daydream that you might find a whole roll of Walking Liberties or Franklins, or maybe even a Barber; but you know the odds are slim to none. People have been picking out silver coins out of circulation since 1965. Half dollars contain the most amount of silver in a US coin shy of full-size silver dollars. So when silver prices go up, the mad rush to find them is renewed, and by this day and age there are scarcely any left to be found. I managed to find one 40% silver half, and it happened to be a decent one in my birth year. So I am happy with that. But for the time and effort it took, and having to re-wrap them and return them to the bank because the bank won’t accept them unwrapped, I would have been better off just going to the coin shop and buying a 1967 half dollar.

I’m glad I did it so that I can say I did. I won’t brag that I did, because anyone in the know will realize what a waste of time it was. But really, any endeavor you set about doing is only a waste of time if you do not find value in the experience it brings. I rather look at it as playing the lottery, only you can get your money back for all your losing “tickets.” So the only thing I truly lost was time. Because time is precious, I don’t intend to do this much. But it can be a fun way to relax. Sometimes we just need that.

Next time, though, I think I will try nickels, dimes, or cents.



Level 5

Roll hunting still holds that thrill and excitement of what one might find. Reality eventually sets in that questions is it worth the time and effort? If you are in it for the fun then by all means have at it.


Level 7

I have heard of some success with well.fargo.. Any blog I read about silver halves came from there. The bank has them but very rare. However the fun will always be the hunt. It's a shame any silver coin from 1964 and going backwards are called.junk silver. That upsets me. More and more are melted every day. I cherish any silver coin. To melt our history is a shame. I try it I have the money to buy silver halves slabed. Why not there value but to save and enjoy our history. Yes there is money value but that is secondary to me. Collecting is to protect our history. Keep it alive. Thank you for such a good.blog. pat


Level 6

I love the hunt. My credit union has a Coin Star machine that members can use at no charge. That means no re-rolling. Saves a ton of time. Thanks..


Level 4

Mine does too, but they told me it wouldn’t take halves. (I think I should double check.)


Level 4

I usually hunt cent boxes, I don't have $500 for a half dollar box!

It's Mokie

Level 6

it sounds like a worthy experiment and probably very typical of the variety you will find nowadays. As you rightly mentioned, folks have been taking silver out of circulation since the day the government announced clad coins and we even had the huge melt when the Hunt Brothers were trying to corner the market. The days of finding even 40% Kennedy Halves in the Wild are probably mostly over.


Level 4

I think the only real hope anyone has of finding silver halves this way these days is if someone who didn’t know what they had dumped them all in a change sorter. Problem is, many change sorters these days don’t accept half dollars, so they get taken to the teller window... where the tellers set them aside before they get sent away to be rolled.

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