Half Dollar's Time Has Passed
May 11, 2011
Remember the half dollar?
I do. I even try to spend one every now and again.
However, more than 40 years of disuse by the American public has taken its toll. I have to make a conscious effort to think of half dollars. It does not come automatically.
The half dollar is my topic this morning and it was selected for me by former American Numismatic Association president Gary E. Lewis.
After reading yesterday’s blog, he emailed me the following:
“My obvious observation when you said ‘I was due two quarters ... ,’ what happened to the half dollar?”
Lewis has a logical question if this were 1963.
In 2011 the denomination just doesn’t count any longer, does it?
One of my early memories of the hobby occurred in the spring of 1964 when I stood in a long line at a bank in New Ulm, Minn., to get the new Kennedy half dollar.
The public went wild for that coin. It was a memento of a President who had been assassinated just four months before.
That was its undoing.
People saved it rather than spent it.
Shortly thereafter hoarding affected all half dollars because of the rising price of silver. The half dollar hoarding habit the public found hard to break. They basically never did.
Use of the denomination plummeted over time and nowadays just cranks and coin collectors use the coin.
During the financial crisis in 2009 I decided to spend a Mint bag of $100 of 2002 half dollars. I had bought it to see how the Mint packaged and shipped it and to see what kind of quality the coins had. I even looked for errors.
Then I forgot about it for seven years.
I decided that when everybody was worried about earning money of any kind it was a good opportunity to spend the coins into circulation.
Most of them I spent at the Crystal Cafe and never once was one returned as change.
You can prime the pump, but some wells are just dry.
The half dollar’s time is gone. It should be abolished.
On May 14, 2011 JOE FLANAGAN
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