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Half Dollars Rarely in My Thoughts
April 09, 2010

I don’t find myself thinking about half dollars very often. They are almost never seen in circulation. If I happen to get one it is because someone at the Crystal Cafe was short of funds and happened to spend one for coffee.

My habit if I get a half dollar in change is to immediately turn it around by leaving it as part of the tip. I really don’t want to take it home.

There are so few uses for half dollars. They are not spendable in the average vending machine, so I cannot buy a morning coffee here in the break room with it.

The Mint, though, still sells rolls and bags of the coins and even though totals are small, there are some collectors who continue to buy them.

I bought a bag back in 2002. I wanted to see what might be in it. There really was nothing of interest in it for me, so over time, they gradually found their way into circulation. Yes, I took the loss for the amount I paid over face value, but that was better than storing the bag for the rest of my life.

So far this year, 4,072 bags of 200 coins have been sold. The price is $130.95 plus the $4.95 shipping charge. This gives the Mint revenue of more than $550,000. There have been 21,101 two-roll sets sold, which yield the Mint another $800,000 in revenue.

Of the roughly $1.35 million of revenue so far this year, about half a million is the amount over the face value of the coins sold.

That’s not a bad small business profit margin. And, the best part for the government is the face value of the coins is like a permanent loan to help keep the Treasury solvent.

So collect away from the Mint’s point of view, and any buyers of these coins out there please tell me what appeals to you about these half dollars.

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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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