Kennedy Half Dollar coins remain a fertile and fascinating field of study for variety collectors. With numerous varieties existing and several new ones even being discovered in recent years.
In this presentation I'd like to present a Kennedy Half dollar variety that might be easily overlooked due to the nature of the variety and how the “error” occurred that led not only to it's existence, but would also explain how it remained undetected for nearly 30 years by the numismatic community at large. The coin in question is the 1968 Inverted “S” Kennedy Half Dollar.
By 1968 mint marks were still being punched into the individual coin dies by hand, leading to an abundance of over mint mark varies and re-punched mint mark varieties on circulating and even proof coins, of all denominations.
What is unique about this coin however, is the fact that the “S” mint mark for the San Fransisco mint – appearing in it's usual spot just under Kennedy's head on the coin's obverse - was inverted for this variety. Which is to say of course that it was punched upside down, most likely unwittingly by a mint employee! Whether this was due to fatigue, neglect or just a simple unintended mistake, no one will ever know.
Now, yes – while it is true that an “S” remains an “S” regardless of how you turn it. Which is again likely how this error occurred to begin with. It is also the case this specific mint mark style has a correct orientation that is always used by the us mint.
As you can see on the Above images on the inverted variety the “S” is oriented with the smaller loop with the pointed trumpet style end towards the south. The larger loop with the more rounded bulb style end is to the north. But on regular coins with the correct orientation this is the other way around. Which also makes this variety quite easy to identify. Simply compare the two if you are uncertain.
The variety was first discovered by a collector from Tennessee, and subsequently confirmed and reported on publicly by renowned varieties expert Ken Potter in the Numismatic press in 1997.
This variety is found in 1968 proof sets and can be quite valuable today as it's popularity and notoriety grows.
In 2016 a PCGS graded example of this coin at a grade of PR66 managed to sell for $705 at Heritage Auctions. Both PCGS and NGC report numerous examples graded higher, and we've seen reports of coins in grades of PR67 and PR68 selling via private treaty for between $2000 and $2500 each. Due to the nature of the private sale of the high grade coins the reports can not be confirmed independently, but taking into account the probable price progression from Proof 66 to Proof 68 it does seem credible.
At the time of publication the combined population reports from PCGS and NGC reflect 34 examples of this variety having been certified. This does not account for possible crossovers though.
So did you know about this variety? And have you checked your 1968 proof set yet to see if you may have one hiding in your collection? Let me hear from you in the comment section below.
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