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Amid huge demand, U.S. Mint suspends sales of JFK gold coin at Illinois expo

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Michelle Manchir
Chicago Tribune
Thursday, August 7, 2014

Coin collectors like those bringing sleeping bags and waiting in line outside a convention center in Rosemont (Illinois), eager to get their hands on a new gold half dollar, will now have to turn to cyberspace to get one, officials said.

Organizers on Thursday halted sales of the New Gold Kennedy Coins at the World's Fair of Money at the Stephens Convention Center in the Northwest suburb after hundreds of people lined up there each night this week. Some were in line at 4 p.m. Tuesday with the hopes of buying the coin when sales began at 10 a.m. Thursday, said Donn Pearlman, spokesman for the American Numismatic Association.

"It just got to the point where, out of prudence, just to be careful, they decided to halt sales at retail locations," said Pearlman.

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"The Mint made this decision to ensure the safety of those wanting to purchase the coin and the safety of its own employees," the U.S. Mint said in a statement Thursday.

The special half dollar, a coin valued at $1,240 that depicts President John F. Kennedy, is considered so attractive to collectors because it's dual dated -- 1964-2014 -- and because it's struck in gold, said Pearlman. It had also been on sale at Mint retail locations in Philadelphia, Denver and Washington, D.C.

"The Kennedy half dollar, when issued in 1964, was a very popular coin and still is for people who collect," Pearlman said.

The decision to halt sales is purely precautionary, Pearlman said, as no issues, injuries, or arrests involving the crowds have been reported, except for a couple of brazen line-cutters who were escorted away by security guards.

Rosemont police, who have monitored the lines in the evening and overnight, have not made any arrests, said Rosemont Deputy Police Chief John Aichinger.

"One hundred percent civil," Aichinger said of those gathered in line. "No problems whatsoever."

New gold Kennedy coin seekers aren't completely out of luck. Customers who still want to purchase the half dollar proof coins can visit the Mint's website,, or contact its call center, 1-800-USA-MINT.

Buyers can purchase up to five coins per household, according to a news release from the American Numismatic Association.

And while collectors can't any longer buy the special coin at the money fair, other Mint products will be for sale at the event, which runs through Saturday.

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