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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.



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Recent Comments
On May 14, 2011 JOE FLANAGAN said
DEAR DAVE,

BITE YOUR TONGUE !

THAT WOULD MESS UP THE SYMMETRY OF MY COLLECTION.  ALTERNATIVELY, YOU COULD RECOMMEND; ELIMINATION OF THE CENT AND
FIVE CENT PEICE. (THEY COST TOO MUCH TO MAKE.)  AND MAYBE BOTH THE NATIVE AMERICAN DOLLAR, PRESIDENTIAL
DOLLAR. (NOBODY WILL USE THEM, ANYWAY.)  ALSO, HAVE YOU SEEN MANY DIMES IN CIRCULATION LATELY ?  THAT LEAVES US THE WASHINGTON QUARTER.   (THE EARLY ISSUES OF THE STATHOOD ONES ARE JUST  NOW MAKING IT INTO CIRCULATION.  NO TELLING WHEN WE'LL SEE THE TERRITORIES OR PARKS CIRCULATING.)  
SEE WE DON'T NEED ANY COINAGE.  HOW ABOUT GOVERNMENT ISSUED PLASTIC CARDS.
(OH, WE HAVE THOSE ALREADY; THEY ARE SPREADING WIDELY AND RAPIDLY).

JOE

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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