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Coins - 1966 Special Mint Set


For the 1966 Special Mint Set, the US Mint changed the package. A hard plastic lens held the five coins in individual circles and was inserted into a blue box. The 1966 half dollar was the only coin to contain silver at 40% of its metal content. In 1966, the mints continued to make coins without identifying mint marks.

The 1966 Special Mint Set arrived in a long narrow blue box with "United States Special Mint Set" on the front.

1966 Special Mint Set Package

1966 Special Mint Set

The back of the box did not include any additional identifying marks.

1966 Special Mint Set back

Opening one end of the box allows the 1966 Special Mint set to slide out.

1966 Special Mint Set open 

1966 Special Mint Set Uncirculated Coins

In the 1966 Special Mint Set each coin was held separately in its own circle of plastic within the clear lens. Blue plastic with individual circles for the coins provided a background. The coins were arranged from the largest to smallest denomination.

1966 Special Mint Set obverse

On the reverse, the clear lens allows easy viewing of the various designs on the coins.

1966 Special Mint Set reverse

At the top of the obverse side of the lens, a silver colored heraldic eagle resides between "United States" and "Special Mint Set."

1966 Special Mint Set eagle on lens

1966 Special Mint Set Coins and Metals

The 1966 Special Mint Set's coins contained the following metals:

Penny: 95% copper; 5% zinc
Nickel: 75% copper; 25% nickel
Dime: 91.67% copper; 8.33% nickel
Quarter: 91.67% copper; 8.33% nickel
Half Dollar: 60% copper; 40% silver (.1479 troy ounce of pure silver)

Click on Mint Set Population to view the contents of the sets through the years. Take a look at the overall Mint Set page to see how the values compare among the sets.

1966 Special Mint Set Year - News about Coins and the US Mint

(note: the below links to newspapers open in a new window)

New Half Dollar Is 'Clad' Coin 
Reading Eagle - Feb 6, 1966
The Denver Mint worked around the clock to produce the half dollar and relieve the shortage. Bankers and mint officials blamed 'hoarding' of silver for the coin shortage. The Denver Mint used equipment from the Carson City Mint and the San Francisco Mint dating from the 1870s. The Carson City Mint equipment broke down making pennies, but the old San Francisco Mint equipment was still striking the new quarters. The mint had struck 11 million new 'clad' half dollars and would mint roughly 80 to 100 million by the end of June.

Coin Collector's Corner 
Schenectady Gazette - Feb 24, 1966
Since the US Mint was no longer minting silver dollars, the gaming tables of Nevada needed new 'cartwheels' for their gamblers. The Franklin Mint started operations to address the medallic needs not being met by the US Mint. Their first efforts included making coin-like rounds for the Nevada casinos. Gilroy Roberts, the former chief engineer at the US Mint, headed the new Franklin Mint.

More Money 
Eugene Register-Guard - Feb 26, 1966
The article blamed speculators who bought coins by the "tons" and the Treasury Department who chose not to produce sufficient coins for the increased need for the coin shortage.

Shortage of Coins Eases, US Fills Panama Order 
The Milwaukee Journal - Mar 1, 1966
From 1876 to 1966, the US Mint had produced more than seven billion coins for 37 countries. The peak was in 1945 with more than 1.8 billion coins in 27 denominations for nine countries. In 1963, the mint stopped taking outside orders, fulfilled the existing orders by early 1964 and focused their efforts domestically on the US coin shortages.

Shortage of Coins Seen Easing As US Gives Assist to Panama 
Reading Eagle - Mar 2, 1966
After working diligently to reduce the coin shortage, the Mint Director allocated resources at the recently re-opened San Francisco mint to satisfy a 1904 Treaty with Panama. This Treaty included a provision whereby the US would make coins for Panama. The San Francisco mint began the seven million coin order. Supposedly, other countries wanted the US to mint coins for them, but, per the Mint Director, they would need to wait until the new Philadelphia mint facility opened.

Coins Possibly Sighted Here 
Lewiston Morning Tribune - Mar 17, 1966
Area bankers started to receive a few of the new Kennedy half dollars. Some claimed the new 40% silver coins have a different ring when dropped on a hard surface. Regardless, the bankers and merchants were glad to receive any half dollar coins - 40% or 90% silver.

Half-Dollars Becoming More and More Scarce 
Gadsden Times - Jul 24, 1966
They claim the continued half-dollar shortage is due to the remaining 40% silver content, but that hoarders would be better off putting the money in the bank in an interest bearing account. With silver trading at $1.293 per troy ounce, it would have to go to $3.38 for the new halves to contain 50 cents of silver. As for the 90% silver coins, the silver rate per ounce would need to be roughly $1.38 to equal the 50 cents.

Half-Dollars Still Scarce, Little Need for Hoarding 
The Morning Record - Jul 29, 1966
With the Mint's efforts, the coin shortage was over - except for the half dollar. Even with the increased distribution, the half dollar coins were not circulating. The article compelled people not to hoard as the coin's image would be around for 25 years. But, if the shortage continued, the new Joint Commission on Coinage, meeting later in
the year, would discuss the next steps.

Mint Worker Arrested For Coin Sales 
Reading Eagle - Aug 16, 1966
A 26 year old Philadelphia Mint employee, an assistant foreman, was arrested and charged with embezzlement from the mint when Secret Service agents determined he was selling mint errors to the public. The man had been an employee for four years. Errors are normally destroyed by the mint making any errors that do go into circulation valuable to collectors. But, this employee had been selling them for 18 months for "practically nothing."

Half Dollar Seen On the Way Out 
Reading Eagle - Nov 17, 1966
The Vice President of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank predicted the half dollar would be phased out soon. People collected the new half dollar coins with the late President Kennedy's portrait as soon as the mint produced them. The Mint's increased production of the half dollars just meant more of the coins were put aside in people's collections. He speculated that the mint would at least reduce production levels and might even phase out the half dollar coins.

The 1966 Special Mint Set Year saw news of the clad half dollar and continued coin shortages for the US Mint.


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