Dallas-November 22, 1963

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, is assassinated and history is changed dramatically. Little did I realize as a 15 year old boy that this event would change my life as well. I had little knowledge of politics or fate, but one thing is sure, the next year would see me focus my life in a whole new direction. No matter what you what you feel about the man, the myth, or the mystery, John Kennedy’s death affected the masses and he was immortalized in many, many ways.

1964 saw the introduction of a new design for half dollar. John Kennedy replaced Benjamin Franklin as the new face of money, a commemorative event that created millions of new collectors and accumulators. Kennedy was extremely popular, and everyone wanted an example of the coin. Even today, millions of Kennedy half dollars are produced for circulation, but rarely do you receive one in change. They are still hoarded today, fifty years after Kennedy’s death.

Interestingly, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy half dollar is also my 50th anniversary in the coin business. You might say that John Kennedy got me started in the business in 1964. As the mint produced proof sets at $2.10 each, I purchased nearly 70 sets from the mint. They were so popular that the price in the marketplace quickly rose to a high of $35 each. I sold out at $28, a lofty profit of about $26 per set. This gave me the “seed money” to begin buying and selling many different numismatic items at weekly local coin shows. It was the start of a tremendously enjoyable career in numismatics.

No matter your opinion of the man, John Kennedy was an icon of his time, and still enjoys great popularity today. Putting together a collection of the Kennedy half dollars is a fairly easy task and relatively inexpensive. You might want to consider this if you are a fan and want to express your appreciation of the man who inspired millions of Americans in the “age of Camelot”.

Next year, I will be celebrating my 50th anniversary as a professional numismatist. I hope to share more memories of my experiences.

Gary Adkins