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Viewpoint: Will 5-Star General Half Be a Key?
By William H. Brownstein, Numismatic News
September 06, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Two years ago I wrote an article about the uncirculated 2011-D Army half dollar that had a mintage of 39,464 coins and my observation that this was a new key to the modern commemorative half dollar series.

At the current market price for this coin of about $45, it has doubled in price since it was issued, although it has plummeted from its initial sale prices ranging as high at $180 in early 2012.

With the introduction of the Five-Star General uncirculated half dollar this year I was wondering whether history would repeat itself with another low mintage coin.

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I believe that the U.S. Mint has repeated the same mistake that it made in 2011 by offering a nickel clad half dollar for $20.95. The marketing experts in the Mint obviously never heard of the law of supply and demand and that when they price something out of the market sales suffer as to profits. In my opinion charging $20.95 for a coin with almost no intrinsic value doesn’t promote collector interest or, for that matter, interest from the general public. Also, the interest in spending hard earned money on a coin depicting someone who probably wasn’t alive when most collectors were born doesn’t generate much interest.

Last week the Mint in apparently trying to give the program a boost started offering a 2013 Five-Star Generals Profile Collection with a maximum mintage of 50,000 for $74.95.

When considering that the price for the uncirculated dollar is $55.95 and the uncirculated half dollar is $20.95 by themselves, the price for the set of $74.95 is a bargain even without the bronze reproduction of the 1962 MacArthur Congressional Gold Medal and an educational display.

As of Aug. 4, the number of uncirculated dollars sold was 21,245 and the number of uncirculated half dollars was 20,542. How many more individual coins will sell is anyone’s guess. Also, whether the Mint will keep the sets in stock until all 50,000 are sold is anyone’s guess.

Only time will tell if there will be a repeat of the low mintage realized with the 2011-D Army uncirculated half dollar. I wonder how popular sets of Five-Star Generals are to the current generation of coin collectors. Looking up their history, four of the Five-Star Generals obtained their ranks in December 1944 and the fifth, Omar N. Bradley, in September 1950. Thus, I wonder if the modern collecting community is more interested in buying a coin with any of these heroes on them than possibly General Pershing, Ulysses S. Grant or for than matter, George Armstrong Custer.

This “Viewpoint” was written by William H. Brownstein, a southern California hobbyist. To have your opinion considered for “Viewpoint,” write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to

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