The Hype about the Golden Kennedy Half Dollar

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By Ursula Kampmann
Translated by Honeycutshome

August 14, 2014 – It is neither new nor a great work of art, this golden Kennedy Half Dollar. Strictly speaking, it is nothing but a golden jubilee version of the Kennedy Half Dollar that was designed for circulation. Having said this, thousands stood in line the whole night long when it was sold for the first time on 7 August, 2014. And it got worse with each day. So many people tried to acquire a specimen that the Mint had to stop selling it after just three days.

The line in front of the Convention Center Rosemont on 7 August, 2014. Photo: wehwalt / Wikipedia. CC-3.0.

40,000 specimens of the golden Kennedy Half Dollar have been produced by the United States Mint so far, said Mint Deputy Director Dick Peterson. Only a portion of this sum was available for sale during the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. It was said that over the course of five days 500 pieces a day were to change hands – which makes 2,500 in total – for a price of $1,240. Every potential customer was given the opportunity to purchase one of these coins while supplies lasted.

The object of desire. Photo: Dirk Löbbers.

Seen without prejudice, this price is interesting but certainly no bargain. The ¾ of a troy ounce of gold cost about $980 at the moment. This makes a premium of slightly more than 25% for the golden Kennedy Half Dollar. Let it be understood that this premium is valid even though the mintage is not even fixed yet. Hence, the US Mint announced on its website: “An initial inventory of 40,000 coins will be available for sale on August 5 through various sales channels. The United States Mint will evaluate sales activity during the first week and make adjustments to its production schedule accordingly.” What this statement most likely means is that the Mint produces as many coins as it takes to supply the demand.

Despite that, 1,100 people spent the night prior to the first sale waiting in line in front of the Convention Center of Rosemont where the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money was conducted between 5 and 9 August. They turned out to be the lucky ones since they not only got their coin but a certificate as well stating that the coin had really been bought on the first day on sale. The very first four buyers really hit the jackpot. They immediately sold their four Kennedy Half Dollars to David Hendrickson of SilverTowne and his partner Kevin Lipton for $20,000. The others still obtained $3,300 for every specimen. That was a profitable business that no one who heard about it wanted to miss.

It was only logical that even more people stood in line the following night. Rumor had it that very few of these were actual coin collectors. Rather, coin dealers paid them a bounty of $300. According to reports, something similar happened at the three other retail locations – Washington, Philadelphia and Denver. And a Casting Agency is said to have made an offer via Facebook to pay people willing to wait in line as much as $400.

There were signboards everywhere informing the people that the sale had stopped. Photo: Dirk Löbbers.

Although the prices that were being paid in the bourse of the ANA fell to $2,400 on the second day, and even to $2,200 on the third, the crowd grew bigger and bigger still. And that made room for safety concerns. After all, every potential buyer brought with him $1,240 cash and that is generally just the thing robbers are waiting for. People are said to have jostled for the best position in the queue and things only got more civilized once the police showed up. And so the Mint decided heavy-heartedly to stop the sale.

The golden Kennedy Half Dollar is only available for purchase on the internet therefore. In the evening of the second day of the sale, already 61,700 coins had been ordered that way. In the aftermath of the media frenzy the number of orders surely has further increased. According to Dick Peterson, the United States Mint has enough material to produce 75,000 golden Half Dollars, though. Plus, in order to supply the demand, more raw-material is being requested.

If, on the other hand, the ones who had bought the first dollars at a price far higher than the issue price are also likely to appreciate that is a debatable point.

Scenes from the line for the golden Kennedy Half Dollar can be viewed on Coin Update.

Meet the four proud first buyers here.

Even abc News reported on the goldrush.

If you prefer placing your order on the internet, just click here.

We thank coin dealer Dirk Löbbers for providing us with photos. His website you can find here.