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On October 28 at 12:00 pm EST the U.S. Mint will launch the final product in its 2014 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy half dollar tribute series of coins.
During the summer a two-coin clad set which has so far sold about 132,000 sets and a gold half dollar that has current sales of about 64,000 coins were released.
Despite all the attention the launch of the gold coin received, especially as a result of the massive crowds of buyers and the chaos that surrounded in-person sales of that coin, the silver set is actually the product that collectors are most excited about. It is also expected to be by far the biggest-selling Kennedy half dollar anniversary product.
The special silver set will include:
The coins will be housed in their own removable capsules that fit into a blue leatherette folder which can be displayed. A special informative booklet will also be included.
Unlike the regular 2014 Kennedy half dollars that are sold in rolls by the Mint the coins in the silver set, like those in the clad set and the gold half dollar, will use the original 1964 profile of JFK. That profile uses a higher relief than subsequent coins in the half dollar series in which the sculpt was lowered and more detail was added to the hair.
The set is priced at $99.95, a price point that is accessible to virtually all collectors; includes four coins that are only available in this set, and two that use finishes that have never been used before on Kennedy half dollars, reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated; and it appeals to a wide range of potential buyers from Kennedy half dollar collectors to admirers of the former president, who is generally regarded as the most popular modern American president, to modern U.S. coin specialists, who will be eager to acquire this special set that has two unique modern issues.
Moreover, the silver set is also likely to be popular in other countries, especially in Europe, where President Kennedy is widely admired in part because of his famous visit to Berlin in 1963. In fact, JFK-themed coins typically have global appeal. Several have been issued in the past several years such as the 2013 San Marino 5 euro coin that marked the slaying of JFK in November 1963, a 2013 Irish 10 euro coin that honored JFK’s visit to his ancestral home, and others. Those coins were very popular in Europe and other countries.
The Kennedy half dollar tribute coins are one of two major highlights of the year from the U.S. Mint with the other being the Baseball Hall of Fame Commemoratives. Unlike the baseball coins all the special JFK issues are being struck to demand and in theory could be struck until the end of the year. The Mint did that because it anticipated very high demand for these products, but it has also imposed a five-set household limit for the silver sets. Mint officials have indicated that 150,000 of these sets were produced in advance of the launch and will be ready to ship when the set debuts. I would not be surprised if sales eventually reach around 400,000 sets.
When the set is launched on October 28 on the Mint’s web site and through its telephone ordering system it will be the first high-demand product sold through the Mint’s new retail web site and order management system. The waiting room feature that was used for the baseball coins no longer exists, and the new system is designed to better handle high traffic periods. Orders are also supposed to be processed and ship quicker.
While some collectors and numismatic writers have called into question the issuance of coins that honor a coin rather than a person or theme, most collectors have expressed strong interest in these tribute coins since they were first proposed in surveys the Mint conducted in 2013 and earlier this year. And the silver set consistently elicits the greatest level of interest of all the 2014 Kennedy anniversary issues, especially after photographs of test strikes were made available a couple months ago. The high degree of enthusiasm for the silver coins can be seen in all the positive comments made about them in the blogosphere even before the coins have been released.
The gold coin was too expensive for many buyers, and demand for it was driven in large part by speculators looking to cash in on graded examples of coins sold at the Chicago ANA. But demand for the silver sets is going to be very different. It will be driven by genuine interest from a wide range of collectors, especially Kennedy half dollar enthusiasts. I also expect the silver coins to bring in new collectors to the Kennedy series.
The gold coin was characterized by a number of numismatists as being out of place in the Kennedy half dollar series, but the silver coins have great appeal for those who collect the half dollar coins and will become essential components of this series that will be included in price guides like the Red Book right along with the rest of the Kennedy half dollar coins.
In addition to having great visual appeal the coins will have the added benefit of final mintage levels that will probably come in (along with the clad anniversary issues) as the one of the lowest in the series after the 1998 matte proof coin (mintage of 62,000) that was only sold in a special two-coin set that also included the Robert Kennedy silver dollar. Most coins in the series have mintages well into the millions with the exception of the silver proof coins issued since the 1990s with the lowest of those being the 2012 silver proof at 395,443.
The only specific critique of the silver sets I have seen is the rather absurd argument that for $100 the buyer is only getting about an ounce and a half of silver. Clearly these sets are not for accumulating silver, and their production involves lots of costs besides the silver planchets. Besides, the premium over melt for these coins is comparable to that for other numismatic products like reverse proof American Silver Eagles.
In terms of the market outlook for the silver JFK sets I would note the following points. First, the sets will not be difficult to obtain and several hundred thousand are likely to be purchased. In this respect they will resemble the 2012 and 2013 special two-coin American Silver Eagle sets, whose aftermarket values have tended to be stagnant. Second, in the short-term graded 70 sets are where I expect there to be price appreciation, and there will be considerable demand for 70 sets with NGC early release and PCGS first strike labels.
Finally, over time raw and graded sets will likely see some appreciation once the sets are no longer being sold by the Mint. That will be due to two factors: new collectors coming into the hobby who will want to acquire these coins, and the fact that because the silver sets are desirable collectibles, owners will probably not want to sell many of their sets, which may reduce the available supply.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|