Long lines outside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont have led organizers of a coin show to suspend in-person sales of a popular John F. Kennedy gold half dollar, officials said Thursday.
Collectors began lining up as early as Monday night for the chance to buy the Kennedy coins, unveiled Tuesday morning by the U.S. Mint at the World's Fair of Money convention. The new coins are dual dated 1964-2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Kennedy half dollars.
U.S. Mint officials said in a statement they decided to suspend in-person sales of the coin "to ensure the safety of those wanting to purchase the coin and the safety of its own employees."
The Mint also suspended sales at its three retail locations in Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., though sales are still available on the Mint's website, usmint.gov, at a limit of five coins per household.
Only 1,500 coins were sold during the first three days of the convention -- a limit of 500 each day and only one per customer. Retail price is $1,240.
Donn Pearlman, a spokesman for the American Numismatic Association, which sponsors the coin convention, said the first coin buyers began lining up at 10:30 p.m. Monday, even though sales didn't begin until 10 a.m. the next day. Once the first 500 coins were sold Tuesday morning, those who waited for hours in a long line stretching down River Road went home, only for many of them to return over the course of the next two days for the chance at getting their hands on the rare coins.
"Hundreds of people were lined up for blocks every night for the last several nights," Pearlman said. "Even though there were no serious problems, prudence indicates as a safety precaution, the sales were suspended."
Other products produced by the U.S. Mint remain on sale in-person at the convention, which continues through Saturday.