American Coins – Jack and Ike: The 40% Club Short Set

Through Ron …..

Collect strategies to create a short set at 40% money

1965 was a momentous year for the US currency. It was the year we transitioned from silver alloy to plating, and for many it marks the boundary between “real” money and what you would like to call our money ever since. For some collectors, the word “modern” is synonymous with “degraded” coinage of the current era.

It is an understandable argument.

But not all “modern” era coins are made of plating. The production of precious metal coins and bullion has only improved since then, with technological and technical developments allowing purity of up to five decimal places in marketable products. Lots of respect to Royal Canadian Mintabove all.

And in 1965, not all coins in circulation were plated either. the kennedy half dollarthe largest coin in circulation, still held silver and did so until 1970. In 1971, following the same law that removed silver from the half dollar, a collectible Eisenhower dollar would use the same alloy – a 40% silver mixture.

Since then, there have been special silver releases for both coins (most notably the bicentennial), but no regular silver coins. The years between 1965 and 1971 may have been less historic than one might think (much of the rest of the world had already embraced pegged currency), but for the world’s most powerful economy, they were a period of transition between two great epochs.

The binomial “40% club” is the kind of representative short that we may never see again.

Silver Clad Kennedy Half Dollar: 1965-1970

The half dollar saw a design change in 1964, only 16 years later Ben Franklin had replaced by Adolph Weinman freedom to walk design.

At first glance, this seems to flout the Coinage Act of 1890 provision that part designs can only be changed after 25 years. What the law really means, however, is that the Mint cannot change the design of the nation’s coins independently of Congress until said design has been around for a quarter of a century (after that, it’s is every man for himself, I guess; it didn’t really happen that way).

After the assassination of the president John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Congress acted quickly and a bill was passed in late December that places a revised version of the effigy of Gilroy Roberts’ Kennedy Inaugural Medal on the obverse of the silver half dollar. Quick congressional action and the use of pre-existing assets allowed the mint to produce the first Kennedy half dollars in January 1964.

Since 1964 was the last year before the clad transition, this year’s Kennedy halves are made of 90% silver. In fact, that was sort of the point of honoring Kennedy on the half dollar—Congress wanted it on our silver coinage, and First Lady Jackie Kennedy didn’t want to move george washington quarter. Keep these facts in mind when talking about the Ike dollar.

the Currency Act 1965 was the legislative tool used by Congress to remove silver from the majority of the nation’s circulating coins. This was done in response to the rising price of silver on the open market and the resulting coin shortages (not to mention the fear of them). The law also kept silver in the production of the half dollar, albeit at the reduced level of 40%.

Technically, however, the law authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to mint 90% silver, quarters and half dollars for a period of up to five years if there were not enough plated coins in circulation to meet the business needs. Enough was done, however, and the public seemed to accept it, so it never happened.

The Currency Act of 1965 also ended the production of a silver dollar coin during this same five-year period. This was in reaction to the peace dollar debacle of 1964 and was seen as a way to combat those in Congress who for a hundred years or more had helped fill the pocketbooks of Western mining interests at the expense of the rest of the world. nation. Practically though, it meant that the U.S. Mint could avail itself of the necessary silver supplies to issue the other denominations, whether the Treasury Secretary chose to continue production of 90% silver or opted for the 40 Kennedy half dollar. %.

According to red book, the first year saw a mintage of nearly 66 million coins. This nearly doubled by 1966, and at its peak in 1967, over 476 million 40% Kennedy halves had been produced in the first three years.

In 1968, production of Kennedys on business strike moved from Philadelphia to Denver, and San Francisco hit the series’ first proofs. Circulations were still quite high, with around 250 million business strikes made and just over 3 million proofs issued.

The numbers were definitely on the way to decline by 1969, and by 1970 only 2,150,000 Kennedy Trade Strike Half Dollars were made, exclusively for that year’s Mint sets. BE drawdowns recalled fairly constant until the end, at around three million per year.

Unfortunately, the 40% Kennedy halves did not circulate effectively (as did the 90% silver issue of 1964). Simply put, the public knew our coins were being replaced with a plated composition and people were hoarding the money. Gresham’s Law knock again.

Some numismatists suggest that this abrupt disappearance from circulation made the coin unfamiliar to the general public and too exotic to be taken seriously as useful in day-to-day business. This in turn established a habit of disuse of our nation’s largest coin denomination that continues to this day – and likely contributes to the psychological inertia blocking acceptance of even larger denominations, such as the coin of a dollar.

Silver Clad Collectors’ Coin Eisenhower Dollar: 1971-1974

The story of the Silver Eisenhower dollar started in 1969 with Mint Director Mary Brooks, who wanted to ensure that at least one of the American coins had silver in it when the Kennedy half became fully clothed in a few years. Congress was aware of the proposal, so when the five-star general, Supreme Allied Commander Europe and former President Dwight. D. Eisenhower who died in March of that year at the age of 78, a bipartisan legislative process created the bill authorizing the first dollar coin in circulation in the United States since 1935.

silver_clad_ikeInterestingly, since we’re talking about honoring a beloved past president, the bill called for the Eisenhower dollar to be made of plated composition instead of silver. But, overall, it was a common-sense bill aware of the limited use Americans had of a silver dollar at the time; he also removed silver from the composition of the Kennedy half dollar.

Nevertheless. How strange that five years ago Congress demanded that Kennedy be honored on a silver coin, but now passes a law insisting that the Eisenhower dollar is only for clothing. Some members of Congress protested, but it was the Senate that came to Ike’s rescue, and in March 1970 the two houses compromised and agreed to produce a collector’s version in 40% money that would be fabricated alongside a clad business strike.

But before that happened, world history was written when on July 20, 1969, mankind first set foot on the surface of the Moon. A proposal to honor Apollo 11 The Moon landing took place later that year. It was eventually folded into the Ike dollar bill, and the result was the familiar Eisenhower dollar coin.

The first Ikes rolled off the presses in 1971. Now, compared to the 40% silver Kennedy half of 1965-70, clad Ikes had much smaller print runs – 25% to 50% smaller if you go by the year of issue. And the 1971-74 40% silver collector coin had exponentially smaller mintages than clad Eisenhower dollars. Again, according to the Red Book, the silver-plated 1971-S Eisenhower had a total mintage of nearly seven million. 1972-S had a circulation of over two million. 1973-S and 1974-S saw 1.8 and 1.9 million produced respectively.

A clear difference from the Kennedy half. Why was that, exactly? Was the money really too expensive? Has Congress finally seen through the silver dollar hoax of the previous century? Was the high circulation of Kennedy halves the result of the trauma of his assassination? If times had really changed, like Bob Dylan claimed, and a five-star Republican president and general was simply no longer “fashionable”? To a greater or lesser extent, I’m sure it’s all true.


As I said before, the money came back on both the Kennedy half dollar and the Eisenhower dollar coin. First came the bicentennial program overseen by Mint Director Brooks. Over the next few decades special 90% silver issues were added to the Kennedy series in 1992, which as a whole became officially collectors-only in 2002.

I wish I could talk about the 1992 and 2002 Ike dollars, but alas the series ended in 1978 after it also didn’t circulate effectively and polls suggested that a one dollar coin smaller and lighter would be more widely accepted. Starting with the Susan B. Anthony and continuing through the Sacagawea, American by birth and $1 Presidential Coinsthe United States never returned to a dollar coin the size of a crown or a cartwheel.

Which makes sense rationally if not emotionally. Why change the size of a coin if its composition does not determine its value?

I guess that’s another reason why the “40 Percent Club” short is so unique.


Eisenhower silver dollars currently available on eBay


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