WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President John F. Kennedy is getting his old look back on new collectors' coins.
The slain president's profile debuted on the half dollar 50 years ago, and the image was subtly tweaked and sharpened in the 1990s. Now the U.S. Mint is producing collectors' coins that restore the original 1964 design, which incorporated suggestions from a grieving Jacqueline Kennedy.
Gold coins being stamped at the mint's West Point plant this week portray JFK's famously tousled head of hair a bit fluffier, his part is less severe and his cheeks less chiseled than on the half dollar discontinued in 2001. The throwback design being featured on the coins this year is truer to both the president's appearance and his widow's wishes, mint officials say.
"We felt we got away from the original," said West Point plant manager Ellen McCullom. "This really does look a lot more like him ... one of the things that struck me was even the little differences in the nose, and in the face and the lines around the eyes."
Kennedy replaced Benjamin Franklin on the half dollar in early 1964, months after the president was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. Mint officials had begun discussing a Kennedy coin shortly after his death and were able to show his widow and brother Robert Kennedy trial strikes of the coin within a month after the assassination.
Jacqueline Kennedy liked what she saw, but suggested making the hair part less pronounced and adding more accents. Her suggestions helped inform the final design by mint chief sculptor Gilroy Roberts.
In the 1990s, improved technology allowed for tweaks in the design to show more detail — sort of the engraver's version of a high-definition broadcast. Not only did JFK's part become pronounced, but the strands of his hair became more defined, a characteristic collectors sometimes refer to as "spaghetti hair." His cheeks became more angular, too.