Adam Starkey

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Kennedy Half Dollars

It has been said that every American alive in 1963 remembers exactly what he or she was doing the moment they heard that President Kennedy was assassinated. A profound sense of loss overtook the nation, which resulted in the dedication of numerous civic structures and landmarks in honor of the fallen leader. Of all these memorials, one that may very well persist the longest is the Kennedy half dollar. Within a few days of his tragic death, serious consideration was underway to place the President’s portrait on a new silver coin. Mrs. Kennedy asked that her husband not replace George Washington on the quarter, and so President Johnson requested the half dollar. The depiction of Kennedy on his inaugural medal was chosen for the obverse, and the presidential seal from the same medal was chosen for the reverse. On March 24th, 1964, Americans waited in line for hours at banks across the country to acquire the new 1964 Kennedy half dollar, but supplies quickly ran out. Mintage continued at enormous levels, yet few of the coins ever achieved actual circulation. From its very inception, the Kennedy half dollar became a keepsake, cherished by generations of Americans.

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