Why on the Earth would one try to do such a thing?! Of course, it goes without saying all of us coin collectors will always strive to upgrade our little precious disks of metal wherever and whenever we could. However, I must confess the weird fact remains true: Yes, I did downgrade some of my pieces. And, yes, I’m guilty of that unspeakable sin. So, am I crazy or what? Please, before you deem me as crazy, just wait until you have heard my story, and then you can decide.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I go any further, I am honored and proud to present ... a consecutive run of slabbed Kennedy halves - eleven of them running from About Uncirculated-50 and all the way up to Mint State-66!
Granted, it’s not so difficult a project to accomplish for just about any year for the Kennedys. Grab yourself a box of Kennedy halves from your local friendly bank, and I’d bet you can achieve such a feat in one evening or two.
But, what if you focus on one particular year? A bit harder, yes, but it can be done with a little more time and effort.
OK, what about narrowing it down to only one die variety? To be more exact, how about that fabulous and dramatic 1974-D Double Die Obverse Kennedy half dollar?!
Although there are many double-die varieties in the Kennedy series, the 1974-D half is the only double-die variety listed in the 2003 edition of the Red Book, where a value of $150 is given for MS-63. The Kennedy Half Dollar Book by James Wiles has excellent close-up pictures of its very prominent doubling, especially the letters, “R U S,” in the word, “TRUST.”
While I don’t remember exactly when I first got the idea of putting together a Grade Set for this die variety, I am pretty sure I got the idea one day while I was surfing on eBay. You see, I would win my first slabbed 1974-D DDO on October 22, 2000 and later on, I would come across another one at a better grade and would win it, too. Then, there was still another one, and it was slabbed at MS-66! At the time, there were only three halves of this double-die variety certified at that lofty grade by all grading services. So, I made a strong bid for it and lost it to someone else.
A short while afterwards, there appeared on eBay another one also slabbed at MS-66! So, naturally, I made a stronger bid and yet lost again!
On March 28, 2001, a third MS-66 half showed up on eBay. I couldn’t believe my own eyes, and to my great dismay, its closing time was exactly when I would be out of state, away from computers. And so, I made one bid on it and eBay replied I was leading with two days left. Upon my return home three days later, I was dumbfounded when I learned I had won it! Incredibly, no one else had made a higher bid on it for the last two days.
And, you know how it is with eBay - always something interesting to bid on. That’s why I later happened to come across a roll of twenty circulated 1974-D DDO halves on eBay. After winning it for $150, it was probably the first time the idea of trying to complete a consecutive run of 1974-D DDO halves began to crystallize.
I brought all of the raw 1974-D DDO halves, including a few I’d found in bank rolls, to a coin show in Baltimore and submitted them to ANACS. That’s how I ended up with slabbed Kennedys at AU-50, AU-55, AU-58 and MS-62. But, none were slabbed at AU-53. In fact, ANACS’ Population Report of December 2000 showed a zero under AU-53 for this die variety.
And so, six months later, I brought back 16 AU-55 slabs and one AU-50 slab and asked Mike Farone of ANACS to take a good and long look and see if he can downgrade at least one of these AU-55 slabs. Sure enough, he did, and that is how ANACS ended up with its first two AU-53 slabs.
The hardest part were the last two missing pieces: MS-60 and MS-61 slabs. The same ANACS Population Report showed only four and two halves have been slabbed at these grades, respectively. Gee, here I am in this great country of ours and where can one go about locating one of each?
It was, however, not long before a friend of mine, Henry Adler, alerted me to a MS-60 on eBay, and that eventually took care of one of the last two missing “spaces.”
Seven months later on August 14, 2002, while surfing on WWW, I stumbled across an eBayer’s website. Lo and behold, he has a slabbed MS-61 1974-D DDO for sale! With this $45 addition, the run was finally completed from a decent AU-50 and all the way to the lofty MS-66!
Today, to my knowledge, no 1974-D DDO halves have been graded at MS-67 or higher by any grading services.
Yet, I’m not done.
I’m now working on the downside. Mike Farone has recently graded two more raw halves at EF-45 and EF-40.
Yet, I’m not done.
I’m now carrying a few 1974-D DDOs in my pocket.
One for a 35, another one for a 30 and still another one for even a 25 ...