By Tony Davis
The release of the highly anticipated Kennedy gold commemorative half dollar is set to take place at the ANA Money Show in Rosemont, IL on August 5th and is sure to cause jubilee among the coin collecting community and beyond. Of course, jubilee is synonymous with excitement or a celebration, and oftentimes signifies the anniversary of a person or event, which is exactly what this coin is intended to do. The release of the coin commemorates the 50th anniversary of the original release of the Kennedy half dollar. President Kennedy was among the most beloved presidents in our history and has been seen billions of times on half dollars produced over the past fifty years. We believe that this coin has the potential to be a smashing success, as we anticipated would be the case with the release of the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins. In this article, we’re going to review the criteria that we discussed in a previous article on the four essential factors of a successful commemorative coin to see how this coin stacks up.
Image that Resonates
Without question, the side profile of John F. Kennedy emblazoned on the obverse of billions of half dollars produced over the past fifty years is an image that resonates. President Kennedy dealt with many crises during his presidency and may be best known for guiding the United States to safety during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was regarded as a principled, unwavering leader with strong convictions and was loved and adored; especially by U.S. patriots from the “Greatest Generation.” Of course, his assassination on November 22, 1963 shocked the world, and a tribute in the form of his image on a half dollar was released the following year. Amazingly, the first strike of the 1964 Kennedy half dollar took place on February 11, 1964, a mere two and a half months after Kennedy’s assassination! Even to this day, questions remain as to if Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. Numerous movies and documentaries have been released detailing the events of Kennedy’s assassination, including various conspiracies as to what occurred on that fateful day.
While the Baseball Hall of Fame coins had tremendous crossover appeal, considering that baseball is America’s favorite pastime, it goes without saying that the 35th President of the United States, and one of only four presidents to be assassinated while in office, will have broad appeal. As a long time coin dealer, we work on a routine basis with individuals that are unfamiliar with coins. While it’s fairly common for individuals to mistake the identity of presidents and historical figures on old notes and other coins, we have never had an individual mistake the identity of John F. Kennedy on a half dollar. In fact, we can’t think of a recently released modern commemorative coin that is likely to have as much crossover appeal as the 2014 Kennedy gold commemorative half dollar.
The shape and the design of the Kennedy gold commemorative half dollar is expected to be consistent with standard Kennedy half dollars; however, the coin is unique in that it will be the first ever three-quarter ounce gold coin produced by the U.S. Mint. Additionally, most commemorative gold coins are 90% pure, while the Kennedy gold commemorative coin will be .999 fine gold or 24k. While some investors may be concerned that it’s not a traditional sized gold coin, it’s important to note that the actual gold weight of previously issued $5 and $10 commemorative gold coins is .2411 and .4822, respectively. In fact, this coin has the potential to be a trail blazer, as its expected popularity may cause the Mint to consider adding another fractional gold coin to its American gold eagle lineup.
The eventual mintage of the coins is impossible to predict at this point in time, but as has been the case with recent commemorative offerings, there’s a limit of five coins per household. The U.S. Mint is expected to have 40,000 coins available for sale on August 5th, including 2,500 coins at the ANA show, and will adjust production levels based on initial demand for the coins. In our opinion, based on expected demand, this coin has the potential to be produced well into the six figures; however, it’s our hope that the final mintage is reasonable enough to help maintain strong demand and pricing. Too many previously minted commemoratives have been over produced, which has caused the modern commemorative coin market to struggle in recent years.
In conclusion, we expect the release of the Kennedy gold commemorative half dollar on August 5th to be a smashing success. It clearly has an image that resonates with all Americans, which also helps with crossover appeal. Crossover appeal historically has been one of the most important factors in creating initial demand and sustaining it over the long term. Additionally, the coin is unique in that it will be the first three-quarter ounce gold coin produced by the U.S. Mint. As long as the Mint doesn’t become overzealous with the production of these coins, we expect for demand and pricing to remain strong for the foreseeable future.