Unnamed set - 210196
1964 Proof





Coin Details

Origin/Country: UNITED STATES
Item Description: 50C 1964 ACCENT HAIR
Full Grade: NGC PF 68 CAMEO
Owner: Cellgazer

Set Details

Custom Sets: This coin is not in any custom sets.
Competitive Sets: Latest and Greatest   Score: 2851
Latest and Greatest, 2nd Ed.   Score: 2851
Third time's a charm   Score: 2851
Round 4   Score: 2851
Cameos and Stars   Score: 2851
Unnamed set - 210196   Score: 2851
Unnamed set - 225113   Score: 2851
Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy   Score: 2851
Unnamed set - 210576   Score: 2851
Unnamed set - 226548   Score: 436
Not my type   Score: 436
Unnamed set - 209805   Score: 2851
Research: NGC Coin Explorer NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

Some of the most intriguing stories in numismatics involve major personalities (often politicians) who had the ability to influence coinage design with just a few words or pen strokes. There is such a tale about this coin, the Proof 1964 Kennedy half dollar Accented Hair variety. After the president’s assassination on November 22, 1963, discussion immediately began about how to commemorate his life with a circulating coin. Within only a few days of Kennedy’s death, Mint Director Eva Adams contacted the Mint chief engraver, Gilroy Roberts, and told him to begin work on a design. Roberts quickly adopted his profile portrait for the Kennedy presidential medal. While this design work was ongoing, a new coinage bill was passed by Congress on December 30, 1963, allowing Kennedy to replace Benjamin Franklin on the circulating half dollar. The first trial strikes were shown by Adams to the president’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, and to his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. They provided comments on the design and a modified version was prepared. It’s this exchange, which took place less than a month after the president’s death, that has implanted itself in the annals of numismatic lore. It is thought that Mrs. Kennedy objected to the heavily inscribed lines that showed the direction of the president’s delicately coiffed hair, and that this aspect of the design was changed because of her personal recommendation. In fact, this is a striking dissimilarity between the otherwise-parallel portraits used on this coin and Paul Manship’s design of the Kennedy inaugural medal, in which the hair detail is only faintly hinted. The very first examples struck were Proofs; the Mint rightly recognized that many would want the new coins as souvenirs, and nearly four million Proofs were struck. Two distinct varieties could be seen. One, known from only one Proof die, was the Accented Hair version, best distinguished by a series of accented hair lines in the area above Kennedy’s ear. The other showed much-reduced detail and depth of lines in this area. Although not exactly rare, this Accented Hair variety accounts for fewer than 1 in 20 Kennedy half dollars struck in 1964 (less than five percent); many estimate that about 120,000 were struck. Clearly, some coins had been produced with this original feature still in place. Perhaps during the rush, dies for Proof coinage had already been prepared relying on Roberts’s original design. Although we do know that the Kennedys were consulted about the coin’s design, any specific objection to this aspect of the coin, or how these Accented Hair examples came to be released, is left open to speculation. Numismatists, quite frankly, enjoy the good story. Another theory posits that the deeply incised grooves in the original version caused production problems, such as reduced die life, and the design was quickly changed so that the Mint would be better able to accommodate the aggressive demand for this coin in 1964. Sometimes, spotting an Accented Hair Kennedy half dollar without another specimen for comparison can be tricky by looking at the hair detail alone. A tell-tale flaw at the bottom of the I in LIBERTY is the best diagnostic. On the Accented Hair variety, the lower-left serif will always be missing. Garrett, Jeff; Schechter, Scott; Bressett, Kenneth; Bowers, Q. David (2011-03-04). 100 Greatest US Modern Coins (Kindle Locations 1817-1844). Whitman Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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