1964 Kennedy Portrait Restored for 2014 50th Anniversary Coins

by Mike Unser on July 29, 2014 · 4 comments

This article describes how the U.S. Mint restored the original portrait design on 1964 Kennedy Half-Dollars for 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollars in .9999 fine gold, .900 fine silver and copper-nickel clad.

This year’s 50th anniversary Kennedy half-dollars bear the vintage Gilroy Robert’s portrait of President John F. Kennedy, a design for inaugural 1964 halves that was "lost" over the years following a number of revisions. Shown side-by-side, the portraits vary greatly. The original presents a life-like sculpt of Kennedy whereas the revised versions turned almost robotic in appearance.

Changes in Design of Kennedy Half-Dollars

The portrait on Kennedy half-dollars has changed over the years. When comparing the original design (left) to modern issues (center and right), there are sharp differences around the hair, eyes, nose, chin, and cheek. The original obverse design was restored for the new 50th anniversary Kennedy half-dollars.

Digital Scans to Restore Original Portrait Design

Restoring Robert’s original 1964 portrait for the 50th anniversary Kennedy half-dollars took a bit of work, and modern technology. (Read about U.S. Mint sculpting technology.) The U.S. Mint could not locate Robert’s original plaster model but it did have a version in the form of a Galvano Bronze, and it also had an original die for the 1964 Kennedy half-dollar. Both were scanned, converted to digital models, compared for best replication of the original design and heightened relief, and then rendered to restore the design for the seven 50th anniversary Kennedy coins.

The following U.S. Mint-provided photos and captions outline the process used to restore Robert’s design.

Galvano Bronze of Gilroy Robert's Kennedy Half Dollar Sculpt

The only known existing version of Gilroy Robert’s Kennedy Half Dollar sculpt is this Galvano Bronze.


Original Die for the 1964 Kennedy

Original die, dated Dec. 28, 1963, for the 1964 Kennedy


Galvano Bronze and the original 1964 die

The Galvano Bronze and the original 1964 die were scanned and converted to digital models


Galvano and 1964 hub

These images show the differences in relief height between the Galvano and 1964 hub


Scaled Galvano sculpt

The Galvano sculpt was scaled and repositioned to match the size and orientation of hub effigy


Kennedy basin

A new basin was created using the 1964 hub basin curvature. The Galvano scan data was converted to a new digital model, then carefully adjusted to match the approximate relief height of the 1964 hub effigy.


Reliefs of 1964 Hub and Restoration

Measurement of maximum relief height showing consistency between the 1964 hub and the 2014 restoration


Concept render of the restored Robert's half-dollar design

Concept render of the restored Gilroy Robert’s Half Dollar design overlaid on the previous Half Dollar digital model

With everything digitally mapped, the restoration was completed and hubs and dies were created to strike 50th Annniversary Kennedy half-dollars. (Read how the U.S. Mint makes hubs and dies.)

The following photos were taken on July 22, 2014, from the production floor of the U.S. Mint at West Point. They show newly minted 2014-W 24K Proof Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Coins and 2014-W Reverse Proof Kennedy Half-Dollar Silver Coins.

2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Coins

Three photos of 2014-W 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Coins

2014-W Reverse Proof Kennedy Half-Dollar Silver Coins

Three photos of 2014-W Reverse Proof Kennedy Half-Dollar Silver Coins.

50th Anniversary Kennedy Products

Three U.S. Mint products will feature the 50th anniversary Kennedy coins. They include a two-coin clad set that launched on July 24 for $9.95, a 99.99% fine Gold Kennedy half that will be priced around $1,300 and launches on Aug. 5, and a fall release of a four-coin 90% silver set for $99.95.

In addition to the original 1964 obverse design, these coins feature varying finishes and are struck from four different U.S. Mint facilities.

2014-Dated Kennedy Halves

In all, there will be 13 Kennedy half-dollars this year. They include the 7 anniversary coins and the 6 regular annual issues. Here is a chart that offers specifications for each coin and describes the contents of the 2014 Kennedy half-dollar products.

  Unique to 50th Anniversary Composition Associated Product Release Date
2014-W Proof Gold 50c Yes, featuring original 1964 obverse design .9999 Gold Individually Sold as the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Proof Coin (See photos) Aug. 5
2014-P Proof Silver 50c 90% Silver, 10% Copper 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Silver Coin Collection (See reverse proof photos) Fall 2014
2014-W Reverse Proof Silver 50c
2014-D Uncirculated Silver 50c
2014-S Enhanced Uncirculated Silver 50c
2014-P Uncirculated Clad 50c 8.33% Nickel, Balance Copper 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Uncirculated Coin Set Jul 24
2014-D Uncirculated Clad 50c
2014-S Proof Silver 50c No, regular annual issue 90% Silver, 10% Copper 2014 Silver Proof Set / 2014 Limited Edition Silver Proof Set Apr 29 / TBD
2014-S Proof Clad 8.33% Nickel, Balance Copper 2014 Proof Set Mar 25
2014-P Uncirculated Clad 50c 2014 Mint Set May 13
2014-D Uncirculated Clad 50c
2014-P Circulating Quality Clad 50c 2014 Kennedy 50c Rolls and Bags Feb 13
2014-D Circulating Quality Clad 50c

 

For Kennedy products already issued, visit the United States Mint website at www.usmint.gov/catalog for more information or to order.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Victor DeCurtis July 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Incredible! I’m looking forward to ordering 5 sets.

Richard July 29, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Very interesting. And as I’ve said elsewhere, the mint really missed a bet by not emphasizing the higher relief when they advertised the clad sets. In fact, their official site doesn’t mention this at all. Hopefully they’ll be clearer for the others.

19Lyds July 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

The photo captioned “Original die, dated Dec. 28, 1963, for the 1964 Kennedy”
is actually a hub since a “die” is always a reverse image of the coin.

19Lyds July 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Also note that the picture of the December 28 hub is of the Accented Hair Variety.

Thank you for a thought provoking and informative article.

Leave a Comment