For the past salso years, I had longed for the chance to pore via a financial institution box of fifty percent dollars to look for old and also valuable coins. I’ve heard and review the stories for years around fellow collectors that had actually discovered silver fifty percent dollars, Franklin and Walking Liberty halves, proofs, arrays, errors, and more among rolls of half dollars. Until recently, I never before had a “spare” $500 to buy a box of 50 half dollar rolls, each containing 20 fifty percent dollars ($10 face).

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The first fifty percent dollar roll I ever before looked through as a coin collector came in 1993, once I was 12 years old. I had actually only newly check out around fellow collectors finding old silver half dollars among rolls. I found a bunch of high-mintage 1971, ’72, ’74, and 1776-1976 Bicentennial half dollars in that initially roll and a pair of pieces from the 1980s however no silver.

My fortunes readjusted for the better in 2009 upon my second fifty percent dollar roll hunt. That’s when I discovered 3 1964 Kennedy fifty percent dollars (which have actually a 90 percent silver composition) and also seven 40 percent silver halves among five standalone rolls I searched from random financial institutions. Had I more money, I would’ve bought even more rolls then, however at that suggest I was trying to wrap up my bachelor’s level and also was also strapped for cash to save temporarily pulling money from my checking or then-meager savings to gamble on trying to find silver half dollars.

In 2016, my financial photo ultimately readjusted to the suggest that I might finagle $1,000 to buy not just one however 2 boxes of half dollars. And so I did.

As is the situation at essentially eextremely financial institution in the USA these days, finding a amount of half dollars is harder than finding a 1982 no-FG Kennedy 50c. Well, not really – but you acquire the picture. You can walk in to your local financial institution and also find out they’ve “acquired a few” half dollars on hand also, possibly some collecting dust at the bottom of a teller’s till, or probably a token roll or two sitting in a vault.

But finding a box of half dollars? Two boxes? That usually calls for a distinct repursuit slip to fulfill. It’s “we need to order these for you – they’ll be right here following week” territory.

And that’s specifically what taken place.

I learned a week after phoning in my order that Loomis, the famous cash handling firm, had actually assisted in my one-of-a-kind order of fifty percent dollars. I was told to come by and also pick them up. So I came by. I finished up at the teller window staffed by a young woguy that appeared inquisitive around my admittedly inexplicable bank order.

“I’m a coin journalist writing a story around the forms of old and also practical coins I can find in boxes of half dollars,” I casually described.

“Oh, that’s cool,” she responded, seeming a small less at ease with the man who simply ordered 2,000 fifty percent dollars for no noticeable factor – other than maybe laundering money at the neighborhood casino or whatever various other odd things people execute with huge quantities of unexplained coins.

The teller took my $1,000 in $20s and also proceeded to a ago office where she retrieved the boxes. She labored to bring out the two thin boxes filled through half dollar rolls, which she yielded to her teller terminal one at a time. Each box is around the length and width of a quarter sheet cake and also weighs around 25 pounds – a quite awkward fill for anybody to heft. I closed the transaction through a signature on a withdrawal slip and also brought the 2 boxes to my car. I put them in the earlier seat and also drove the 50 pounds of priceless cargo house.

Let the fun begin…

What Did I Find?

I’m a diehard numismatist who is attracted to numismatic things: old coins, inexplicable arrays and also neat errors. But I’ll admit, I was really hoping to discover lots and numerous silver.

Remembering my previously half dollar roll searching endure in 2009, probably my optimism on that front deserve to be construed. So, through silver-lined memories of my previous enrespond to to inspire me, I broke into Box One, surely to uncover at leastern a couple of silver half dollars lurking in tbelow somewhere.

I was happy once the initially roll yielded a 1987-S Proof half dollar, and further intrigued as soon as a 1980-S Proof and a 1985-S Proof fell into my hands by the time I tore open the yellow wrapper on the 10th roll.

But as the evening wore on, points weren’t looking so silverlicious.

My fingertips, charcoal colored after three hours scouring through 50 rolls (1,000 fifty percent dollars), I begrudgingly proasserted to myself: “No silver in the first box.”

I did wind up with three Proofs, a 1987-D Kennedy half, and also a half-dozen or so collectors-only Kennedy halves made after 2001, the last year the denomicountry was developed for basic circulation.

Would the second box be kinder to me the next morning? Maybe.

After I had obtained 30 rolls into Box Two, I ultimately stumbled upon my first and also, as it turned out, only silver coin of the two-box lot. A streaky-surconfronted 1967 Kennedy half dollar I graded Extremely Fine-40. The only various other interesting finds from Box Two were a few even more post-2001 Kennedy fifty percent dollars and also a 1980 Kennedy fifty percent dollar with a post-mint counterstamped picture of Abraham Lincoln’s profile – surely a coin that was when the centerpiece of a Lincoln-Kennedy “strange coincidences” novelty coin display screen. Oh, and if you don’t understand about all of the eerie coincidences that attach the 2 assassinated pcitizens, then I urge you to perform some study.

At any kind of rate, after 100 rolls and also 2,000 fifty percent dollars, tright here were no silver coins, no varieties, no errors.

Does this mean half dollar roll browsing has little advantage to silver hoarders or collectors that are looking for some neat finds at challenge value?

I submit that the answer is “no”, bereason my unclinical sample of two Kennedy fifty percent dollar boxes sucount doesn’t reexisting the opportunities that await in the thousands of other fifty percent dollar boxes stacked deep in bank vaults roughly the United States. There’s plenty of hope for various other aspiring half dollar roll searchers out there.

Itemizing My Half Dollar Roll Finds

So, what specifically did those 100 rolls of fifty percent dollars I searched with yield? As you’d more than likely suppose, the majority of the half dollars were dated 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, or 1976. In truth, 64.75 percent of them–or 1,295 out of 2,000–were.

Here’s a rundvery own of which years I found and exactly how many of each:

1967 – 11971 – 3551972 – 2581973 – 991974 – 2511976 – 3281977 – 401978 – 231979 – 911980 – 501981 – 301982 – 111983 – 341984 – 251985 – 241986 – 141987 – 21988 – 211989 – 211990 – 201991 – 211992 – 181993 – 211994 – 311995 – 371996 – 371997 – 391998 – 211999 – 182000 – 232001 – 172002 – 72004 – 22005 – 12006 – 12007 – 12010 – 12014 – 6

Clat an early stage, my sorting table was awash via the muted glint of copper-nickel clad. But still I regulated to turn my numismatic lemons right into analytical lemonade.

My attention turned away from the absence of handy product in those 2 boxes and quickly focused on the neat possibility I had prior to me: the possibility to conduct some empirical research on the average circulation endure of the half dollars I discovered.

How many type of showed indicators of wear? How many kind of didn’t? What was the lowest-grade Kennedy fifty percent dollar I found? What does this say around our nation’s half dollar as a circulating denomination? I kbrand-new my research study wouldn’t be incredibly scientific; I’m looking at simply 2,000 half dollars from a single bank in one city, and also all the half dollars were presumably around the exact same time. But I thought it would still be insightful (and also fun) to look at these coins from that perspective anymethod. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve tackled the worry of the fifty percent dollar coin and its negligible location in day-to-day business.

In 2016, I created an short article entitled “The ‘Other’ Monty Hall Problem: Disappearing Half Dollars”. The item discusses the incredible infrequency via which 1970s Let’s Make A Deal game show organize Monty Hall would certainly uncover audience members moving half dollars in their pockets and purses. The gig, as some may recontact, would involve Hall supplying to profession cash for any type of unexplained items selected guests would have on their perchild once spontaneously called up from the crowd.

During one telling exreadjust from a circa 1974 episode, Hall tempted a female audience member with a trade of $50 for each fifty percent dollar she may have had in her purse. The dumbfounded guest staggered a crinkle on her face and replied “Half dollars? They don’t make those any type of more!” Hall wittily replied, “Well, all I know is I have a bunch of them sitting at residence in a jar!”

Aacquire, that exchange emerged in 1974 – in the time of the zenith of copper-nickel clad half dollar production. According to the Red Book, even more than 280 million half dollars were struck in 1974, and more than 1.1 billion cupro-nickel clad Kennedy halves had actually been made because 1971, as soon as the metallic complace of the coin was adjusted from silver to base steel.

The mid-1970s was a period when, based upon mintage numbers, tbelow have to have been hundreds of millions of half dollars floating about in pockets and purses across the USA. Yet, Hall was (maybe) accumulating his half dollars in a jar, and also the guest (probably) had no idea they were even being made anymore!

Of course, this is just one anecdote from a nationally televised game present. However, the story illustrates how also in 1974 the Kennedy fifty percent dollar was currently falling out of usage. It’s a socio-numismatic phenomenon many type of map ago to 1964, once President John F. Kennedy was initially honored on the fifty percent dollar and also millions nationwide conserved the coin as mementos of the beloved fallen president that had actually been murdered on November 22, 1963.

Did Half Dollars Circulate? What I Learned From My Survey

Public sentimentality over the Kennedy fifty percent dollar ended up being culturally engrained within months of the new coin entering circulation in 1964. Before long, the denomination no longer penetrated circulation beyond perhaps a couple of transactions. Many kind of world bought the coins at confront value from banks and also stored them ameans in jars and dressers, never before even offering those coins a chance to make it through in circulation.

This fact is basically evidenced in component with my survey of the 2,000 fifty percent dollars I searched via.

Not surprisingly, I found reasonably few Kennedy fifty percent dollars that confirmed actual signs of extreme wear. I think a full one-3rd of the halves dated from before 1983 could’ve qualified for a technological Uncirculated grade. A clear majority of the last, post-1983 half dollars appeared to have surencounters unworn by circulation-connected managing.

Many of the coins from the early 1980s onward exhibited complete cartwheel luster upon being tilted. This isn’t a mere guesstimate – I actually checked each of the coins for luster, a rather tedious undertaking once dealing with 2,000 coins! The major difficulty with these uncirculated halves was that the substantial majority of the lustrous coins were smothered with bag marks, nicks and scratches, which made them undesirable for maintaining and also unsuitable for selling.

Of the pre-1983 days, the year that showed the greatest as a whole grade was the 1976 fifty percent dollar. This is not surpclimbing, as numerous folks organized aside Bicentennial fifty percent dollars as keepsakes throughout and simply after their release.

Conversely, the dates mirroring the many wear all at once were the 1971 and also 1974 halves, adhered to by 1972 and also 1973 half dollars. The remainder of the half dollars I uncovered from the 1970s and those from the early 1980s displayed about equal quantities of wear.


Looking at the wear on these coins, especially those made considering that the late 1970s or early ’80s, I was left to wonder exactly how many of these coins observed wear with typical circulation versus substantial use in casinos (wright here fifty percent dollars have been the majority of extensively used over the last 40 or 50 years). Consistent via that suggest, many kind of of the latter dates–I’ll say those made after 1980–verified substantial edge wear, saying heavy usage in casino slot machines. On some of the coins with heavy edge wear, the reeding was completely gone, leaving completely smooth edges.

Using Kenneth Bressett’s The Official Amerideserve to Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins (Whitman) as my recommendation, I deserve to confidently say that fewer than 100 coins were worn to a grade of less than Extremely Fine. About 10 coins had wear significantly greater than the XF-40 threshost, possibly qualifying for a Very Fine grade – a grade reduced than also represented for Kennedy fifty percent dollars in the ANA grading standards book! However before, that only 10 fifty percent dollars out of 2,000 half dollars graded below XF argues that, also in casinos, a lot of of these coins didn’t circulate incredibly lengthy prior to winding up in the hands of hobbyists, silver hoarders, or various other folks that discovered value in keeping these coins.

Wbelow Did All of My Half Dollars Go?

I’ve counted my half dollars, I’ve sorted them, and I’ve scoured them for any unexplained errors, varieties, or other oddities. So, what next?

Well, it’s time to dump them and move on to the next collecting challenge!

I setup to roll a lot of of my fifty percent dollars up and deposit the funds into my financial institution – and also I’ll absolutely partake in more roll searching in the days, weeks and months ahead. But in enhancement to roll searching, isn’t it fun to additionally spend half dollars?

I absolutely think so, and that’s specifically what I’ve done. The finest part of spending half dollars in daily shopping and also dining is seeing the look of confusion, occasionally curiosity, on the deals with of younger cashiers who check out a fifty percent dollar (occasionally several) pop up throughout a cash transaction.

My favorite such case so far emerged at my regional Dunkin’ Donuts drive-with. I inserted a $7.78 drive-with order with a young woguy that I endeavor to say was around 22. I nonchalantly handed her the 16 fifty percent dollars and was fairly amused sitting in my automobile as I looked right into the drive-via window and watched her look at the coins for about eight seconds and also then in a humelted tone gesture towards the baker a couple of feet ameans who must’ve been no more than 25.

The baker walked over to the cashier and looked in the palm of her hands.

“Are these dollars?” I heard her quietly ask the baker.

“Nah, they’re fifty-cent pieces,” he assured her.

“Well where perform I put them in here?” she asked, pointing at her till.

“Just put ’em at the bottom,” he argued.

A few moments later, the cashier handed me 22 cents in adjust and also then passed me my 2 coffees and the chicken biscuit sandwich I ordered. She smiled at me throughout the remainder of the transactivity exceptionally kindly. Apparently, she more than likely assumed I was either peculiarly cute or downideal weird, though I’m pretty certain it was the last.

My experience at Wawa food market was equivalent. After ordering a cup of coffee, I walked as much as pay for my order and also handed the sales associate, an additional woman in her beforehand 20s, five fifty percent dollars and also 3 quarters to pay for my $3.21 (via tax) cup of café con leche. She counted the halves, picking via each one as she carefully inspected the reverses of each coin.

“These are fifty percent dollars, right?” She asked.

“Yep! Betcha you don’t check out these daily, huh?” I knowingly renoted.

“Nope!” She chuckled. “And I don’t have actually a area in my drawer for them, either,” she laughed as she tossed them right into the bottom of her cash drawer.

The least eventful of these half dollar transactions so much took location at a Wendy’s. The cashier, who was a woman most likely in her mid-40s, accepted 13 half dollars for a $6 order involving a hamburger, fries and a tool Coke (by currently you might have actually some feeling of the diet of a professional coin writer). I passed her the halves and also, remarkably, she took the half dollars without comment. Maybe she has actually handled a couple of half dollars in her lifetime? Maybe so…

I’ve dropped some fifty percent dollars for tithing purposes at church, too. I peppered some offertory envelopes with them, and I’ve dropped a couple of as donations when lighting votive candles. Though seemingly a quiet way to disperse fifty percent dollars, I wonder if using half dollars at church has actually really been without consequence. I sucount have actually been stubbing my toes a lot even more lately. Maybe I’m a little clumsier these days.

Or perhaps God is a little bit peeved bereason He doesn’t have actually a half dollar slot in His till, either.

Summing Up The Half Dollar Fun

I’m willing to say I was basically skunked on those two boxes of fifty percent dollars. In my opinion, one 40 percent silver half, three clad Proofs, and a dozen or so post-2001 collector-just company strikes really don’t make for a good take from two boxes of half dollars. Then aget, I didn’t specifically end up empty-handed. The project entailed around 14 hours of labor opening rolls, counting, sorting and inspecting each coin. I’d especially prefer to give a vast shout out to my girlfrifinish Jeanine for willingly aid me type the unrolled fifty percent dollars by date!

At the exceptionally least, I finally got to search via boxes of fifty percent dollars, just as I had actually wanted to execute for many kind of years. I may not have actually scored a complete “10” with my finds, but I nevertheless had an excellent time looking through every one of those rolls. I’m not discouraged – much from it. I’ll be ordering an additional box of half dollars shortly.

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The journey is part of why we coin collectors do what we carry out. Whether seeking coins for our collections through circulation, from coin dealers or at sophisticated auctions, it’s not constantly basic to find what we desire. Yet the thrill, the adventure, in tracking down the coins we want and also the victorious moments once we finally discover them–whether in coin rolls, dealer inventories, or auction catalogs–are sensations every collector loves, and also deserves, to recognize.