Half Dollars Among Items That Recall Kennedy Years

Question: Since the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has just passed, I think many people would like to know the present value of Kennedy half dollars. How about an update?--J.F.P.

Answer: The era of Camelot ended 25 years ago last month when John F. Kennedy was assassinated after having served not quite three years as President. Public demand virtually necessitated his likeness on the half-dollar, the denomination chosen to add another presidential portrait to regular-issue coinage.

The first year of issue was 1964; these 50-cent pieces are the only ones in the set that contain 90% silver. Those from 1965 to 1970 are 40% silver; and since then, the coins are the copper-nickel variety.

No doubt there are collectors of Kennedy memorabilia, just as there are collectors of Washington, Lincoln and other Presidents. Other people undoubtedly specialize in Bicentennial and Olympic coinage, for example. It was interesting, in fact, to notice a dealer at the recent Glendale show who specialized in World’s Fair material, some going back to the Columbia Exposition of 1892.


Because Kennedy is so vivid in the memories of many Americans, he seems a popular subject. His likeness was designed by Gilroy Roberts, who modified a presidential medal he was working on at the time of Kennedy’s death. The reverse, an adaptation of the presidential coat of arms, was designed by Frank Gasparra. The key date in the series is the 1970-D; none were made for circulation, although the piece is hardly a rarity. A complete set to date, including proof and uncirculated coins, is worth about $225.

Incidentally, a new medal honoring President Kennedy (pictured) has been created by Paul Vincze. The memorial medals are available in bronze (1,000 at $27.50 each), silver (500 at $92.50 each) and 10-karat gold (250 at $950 each) from Numismarketing Associates, 5189 Jeffdale Ave., Woodland Hills, Calif. 91364; telephone (818) 884-1348.

Q: I have a few coins it would be nice to dispose of. However, I don’t wish to give them away. Will watch for your answer. Coins include: 1890-O $1, 1921 and 1923 silver dollars, no mint mark; 1776-1976 Eisenhower dollar; 1776-1976 Kennedy half dollar; 1937, 1948, 1958, 1962 and 1963 half dollars; nickels from 1899 to 1912; and a 1916-D quarter. Also, is there any value in Japanese paper money from World War II?--V.I.

A: The 1890-O $1 is $10; the 1921 and 1923 dollars are $8 each; the Bicentennial Eisenhower dollar is just face value, as is the Kennedy Bicentennial half dollar; the other half dollars are $2 each and up; the nickels are 25 cents each and up, and the 1916-D quarter is $1 and up. The Japanese paper money has little or no collector value.


Q: Could you tell me the value of a 1968 Olympic commemorative 25-peso silver coin? One side is inscribed “Juegos de la XIX Olimpiada Mexico 1968" and is followed by the five-ring Olympic symbol.--D.R.

A: Your Mexican Olympic piece is worth from $4 to $5.

Q: Recently I was given a 1935-F silver certificate. I do not know how to find the worth of this bill, and I wondered if you could help. There is another number on the face of the bill, M 8056, in case that is necessary in determining value.--N.L.

A: If your silver certificate is crisp and uncirculated, it will carry a slight premium. Otherwise it is worth face value.


Q: I have five Canadian silver dollars. I tried to exchange them when in Canada but was told by one of the local people that they would be worth more and to not get rid of them. The year is 1971. Can you tell me if they have any real value?--D.W.R.

A: There were two different dollars produced in Canada in 1971. One was in nickel and the other in silver. The coin honored the 100th anniversary of British Columbia’s becoming part of the Dominion of Canada. Circulated nickel versions are only worth face value. But silver versions are collector pieces and carry a premium. The silver variety is probably worth about $10 each.

Q: I have a pair of $5 gold pieces (1905 Liberty head) that were in mint condition and made into cuff links. My husband wore them no more than a dozen times. Now I would like to sell these coins. How much are they worth?--S.C.

A: Your coins are worth about $200 each, if they have not been damaged. The gold in the jewelry would have to be weighed separately to determine the total value.


Q: Today I happened to find a coin in my backyard. Hard to tell what metal it is. It’s about the size of our half dollar. The face of the coin has a figure sitting on a throne with a staff. The wording on top is Libertad. The back of the coin has 1/4 D and the date is 1860. I sure would like to know more about this coin.--S.J.C.

A: Your coin appears to be a quarter reel from the Republic of Mexico and probably is copper. It could be worth between $5 and $15, but since it was found in the yard, its condition would preclude much of a premium. As it stands, it’s more of a curiosity than a rare find.

Q: Some old bills were given to my daughter some time ago. She was hoping you might be able to give her some information about them. Copies enclosed.--F.McM.

A: Your daughter has a $10 gold certificate and three $20 bank notes. The $10 gold certificate, series 1922, is worth about $50. The Sacramento bank note is also worth about $50 while the two Kansas City notes are $80 each.


Q: I have a silver ruble minted in 1913, the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty. The other is a copper 5 kopek dated 1790, during the reign of Catherine II. I would appreciate knowing the value.--M.M.

A: Your 1913 Russian ruble is worth about $15; the Russian 5 kopek is worth about $5.

Coin News

A 1988 Christmas commemorative (pictured) is being issued by the Mexican mint, Casa de Moneda de Mexico. The medal depicts the Nativity on the obverse. The reverse features the first cathedral on the continent, built in 1573 and still standing in Mexico City. There is a proof 12-troy ounce silver version (only 200 copies for $195 each) and a proof 1-ounce version (1,000 specimens at $20 each) available from Colonial Coins, 909 Travis, Houston, Tex. 77002; telephone (800) 231-2392.


Still looking for holiday gift ideas? American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins would be welcome by anyone. Gold pieces are available in 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth-ounce sizes. The silver Eagle is a 1-ounce coin. For a list of banks, brokerage firms and coin dealers, call the U.S. Mint at (800) USA-GOLD, Ext. 87.

One of the fascinating numismatic stories of the 1970s was the acquisition and dispersal of the Redfield Hoard, which consisted of more than 400,000 silver dollars. The hoard was purchased for $7.3 million by A-Mark. Now, the remainder of the hoard has been purchased by Blanchard & Co. Blanchard is now offering these dollars with a minimum grade of MS-60 or better in plastic slabs and identified as part of the Redfield Hoard. For information, call (800) 877-7633.

Alpert cannot answer mail personally but will respond to numismatic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Coins, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.