Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-one years ago today, February 11, 1964, the ceremonial first strike of the Kennedy Half-Dollar was made at the United States Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Denver, Colorado.
Five days later, Herbert C. Bardes wrote in the New York Times...
"National distribution of the 1964 issue will begin in six to eight weeks. The first of the new half-dollars for general circulation purposes were struck in Philadelphia and Denver on Tuesday, but they are not being released now."
The United States Treasury Department made the Kennedy halves available to the general public on March 24, 1964. In Washington, D.C. the allotted 70,000 half-dollars were gone by the end of the day.
President Lyndon B. Johnson had issued a statement through Press Secretary Pierre Salinger on December 10, 1963, following the lead of Texas Congressman Henry Gonzales, proposing the Kennedy Half-Dollar.
The statement pointed out that with JFK's likeness on the 50 cent piece, there would be a president on every coin denomination from the penny to the half-dollar. JFK replaced Benjamin Franklin, a "founding father" who never served as president.
One Cent - Abraham Lincoln (16th)
Five Cent - Thomas Jefferson (3rd)
Ten Cent - Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd)
Twenty-Five Cent - George Washington (1st)
Fifty Cent - John F. Kennedy (35th)
Sculptors Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro were able to adapt their original designs of the Kennedy Medal produced by the US MINT for the new coin which bears the profile of JFK on the obverse (designed by GR) and the Seal of the President of the United States on the reverse (designed by FG).
Obverse of the Kennedy Half-Dollar
Ninety million of the 1964 Kennedy Half-Dollars were minted. The coin was made of 90% silver and 10% copper. In 1971, however, the silver content was completely removed and all future standard issue coins were made of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
Reverse Kennedy Half-Dollar
A 50th Anniversary Kennedy half-dollar with the dates 1964-2014 is now available from the US MINT for $1,165. The coin, limited to 75,000 pieces, is 3/4 ounce pure 24 karat gold and is the first gold half-dollar offered by the mint.
"News of Coins Last Word Is Issued on Kennedy Halves," by Herbert C. Bardes, The New York Times, February 16, 1964.
"The Story of the Kennedy Half-Dollar," www.usmint.gov/