Oh great. The guy in front of me at the Cumberland Farms is paying for his purchases with a bag of coins. Yay me. Like I really need this in my life.
To her credit, the cashier dutifully took the bag of coins, counted out the currency, and handed the man his purchases and a receipt.
Okay. I can deal with this. I know it’s difficult to get rid of loose change, and you don’t want to have it jingle jangle jingle in your pockets as you go riding merrily along.
I put my items on the counter. “Just a moment, sir,” the cashier glumly said. “The man before me gave me a ton of half dollars and dollar coins, and I have to put them in the tray.”
“How much did he give you?” I asked.
“$20 worth of them,” she replied.
And I had a tiny flashback. As a kid, my Grandma Betty started me with a small penny collection, and taught me how to search through penny rolls for certain coins – 1955 double die stampings, 1909 VDB pennies (or the even rare 1909 SVDB pennies), and the 1943 steel pennies (copper was a rationed war weapon that year).
And although I never became a big-time numismatist, I did know the differences and nomenclatures of rare U.S. coinage. The difference between proof sets and uncirculated stampings; the “D” and “P” under the coin’s year of stamping (Denver and Philadelphia mints), and why you should always glance at your coinage to see if there’s something special in the pocket change.
$20 later, the bagful of half dollars and dollar coins were mine.
Okay. I looked through the dollar coins. Nothing impressive, nothing surprising, there was a Susan B. Anthony coin and a few Sacajawea coins, but that’s about it. And then I peered through the half-dollars.
All Kennedy half-dollars. And the earliest one in the batch was from 1964.
Wait … 1964?
I looked again.
In case you’re wondering why I’m geeking over a 1964 Kennedy half-dollar… that I found in the loose change at a Cumberland Farms … let me explain.
1964 Kennedy half-dollars replaced the Ben Franklin half-dollars after 1963 because … well … November 22, 1963. Look it up, you millennials.
But there’s one other reason to find these coins.
1964 Kennedy half-dollars were the last half-dollars manufactured in nearly full silver. In fact, 1964 was the last year of silver mintage for dimes and quarters as well. Halves from 1965 to 1970 were 40% silver, and halves from 1971 to today are a mixture of copper and nickel.
Now if I took this coin and melted it for its silver content, I’d have maybe about eight dollars of spot silver. And it would cost me about $25 to do that.
I have a better idea, though.
Little coin, you’re going to be my “Ceremonial Last Coin.”
See, I may have mentioned before that my goal is to pay off my car – my 2013 Chevrolet Cruze nicknamed “Dracourage” – with a target date of August 25, 2018 – my 55th birthday. And when I get down to that final payment…
This coin will be the final 50 cents to transfer the car note from my credit union to my personal ownership.
I’ll actually set a personal record as well – fastest payoff of a motor vehicle in my lifetime.
Nice goals to achieve.
And I’ll do it with this special 1964 Kennedy half-dollar, rated maybe G+ or G on condition.
Yeah, its currency value is barely half a buck.
But as far as I’m concerned, it’s going to be the last “half a buck” I’ll spend on Dracourage, if all goes well.
Count on it.
Count up to 50 on it.