Modern American Coinage – Proof Coinage Resumes: 1950-1964

Through Thomas Daniel Bowers Jr. …..

The term “proof coin” during the 1950s to 1964 refers to the manufacturing method used to produce coins in which the coins are minted using polished dies and blanks. From 1850 only individual/unique coins were produced at the request of the US currency – and the plaintiff had to pay an amount greater than the face value. In 1936, Brilliant Proof coins (coins with shiny mirror-like surfaces and sharp, high-relief details) were produced in sets including the cent, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar.

Proofing games took a “vacation” from 1942 to 1949 for two reasons. First, the country’s base metal resources had to be used for the war effort during The Second World War. Second, the Mint was busy with the production of military medals during the post-war (Cold War) period. The minting of Proof sets resumed in 1950. Proof coins minted between 1950 and 1964 I have personally named the “Resumption Proofs”.

The composition of the penny, quarter and half dollar from 1950 to 1964 was 90% silver. In 1964, the Proof sets contained the kennedy half dollar for the first time and were the last 90% silver sets to be produced at the Philadelphia Mint. In 1965 Proof sets were suspended again due to “coin hoarding”, but resumed in 1968.

Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross, the first female director of the U.S. Mint, served from 1933 to 1953. She is known for bringing Proof coins back to public sale in 1950 and establishing the Franklin half dollar.

In all of the 1950 evidence, the 1 Roosevelt penny and the Franklin half dollar reportedly first appeared as part of a Proof set. Each piece was placed in individual cellophane packets, stapled at the top and placed in a box for shipping. In 1955 the flat pack was introduced, all parts were sealed in a single flat sheet of cellophane and shipped in a paper envelope.

Ears of wheat have been replaced by Lincoln Memorial on the back of the Lincoln penny in 1959.

The recovery proof draws by year are:

End of the Wheat Hundred Period

  • 1950 – (51,386)
  • 1951 – (57,500)
  • 1952 – (81,980)
  • 1953 – (128,980)
  • 1954 – (233,300)
  • 1955 – (378,200)
  • 1956 – (669,384)
  • 1957 – (1,247,952)
  • 1958 – (875,652)

The commemorative cent period begins

  • 1959 – (1,149,291)
  • 1960 – (1,691,602)
  • 1961 – (3,028,244)
  • 1962 – (3,218,019)
  • 1963 – (3,075,645)

Beginning of the Kennedy half dollar period

This author exhibited the 70 pieces that make up “The Resumption Proofs Set” on June 1-3, 2018 Texas Numismatic Association Coin Exhibit in Arlington, Texas. The coins were sorted and spread out and displayed by denomination.

Exhibit of Resumption Proof Set: 1950-1964 at the 2018 Texas Numismatic Association Coin Show, courtesy of Thomas Daniel Bowers Jr.

The exhibited coins illustrate what numismatics is. It has all the elements of what coin collectors are looking for in the hobby! It allows an individual to connect to a period in history or an era that is close to your heart. Plus, it gives you the thrill of the hunt, as you travel from coin show to coin show in search of the best coin to complete the set!

NGC Certified Kennedy Half Dollars Currently Available on eBay


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