Collecting Treasures: The Franklin Half Dollar
Franklin half dollars made their debut in 1948 and ended their short mint run in 1963. With only sixteen years of minting, these American fifty cent pieces make an ideal coin to collect and complete a set with. The coin was designed by John Sinnock who was the U.S. Mint Chief Engraver at the time. His design for the new coin replaced the Walking Liberty half dollar which had been minted since 1916.
The Franklin Half Dollar Design
The Franklin half dollars are not known for their elaborate or complex decoration. The obverse side displays a simple bust image of Franklin with the words In God We Trust below and Liberty above this portrayal. The date can then be found to the right of the Franklin neckline. The edging of the coin is reeded.
On the reverse, United States of America appears above a depiction of the Liberty Bell and the denomination of Half Dollar is prominently seen along the bottom. Beside the bell on the left is E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one). To the right of the bell, a small eagle was added to comply with an old 1837 requirement for all half dollars to display an eagle. The mintmark would be noticed centered above the Liberty Bell beam.
Collecting Franklin Half Dollars
A complete collection of Franklin half dollars, consisting of different years and mints, would include thirty five coins. The Philadelphia Mint struck Franklin halves each of the sixteen years they were in production. However, the Denver Mint only released coins in fourteen of those years. In the years of 1955 and 1956, the halves were only coined from the Philadelphia Mint. The San Francisco Mint produced Franklin half dollars in the years 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, and 1954.
All of these coins can be relatively easy and inexpensively found. Depending on the grade or condition of a coin will determine its value and cost for a collector. For example, a MS-60 1948-P Franklin half can be acquired and added to a collection for around twenty to thirty dollars. While a MS-65, a higher grade, may cost a collector one hundred twenty five dollars.
Full Bell Lines and Bugs Bunny
Another factor which may affect prices of the Franklin Halves is known as full bell lines. On the reverse side of the coin, the Liberty Bell is displayed. With a bold and strong struck half, the seven lines detailed on the bell will be complete and visible. Non full bell lined coins or lines of the bell which are broken, mushy, or smeared sell for less.
There is also a Franklin half which has become known as the ‘Bugs Bunny’ Franklin. Although not necessary to complete an official Franklin collection series, it is a coin that is highly sought after. The coin receives its names because of a die clash resulting in the appearance of ‘teeth’ protruding from the mouth of Franklin. The most common year for this ‘error coin’ is 1955. However, other dates have surfaced with the same anomaly and collectors are now forming sets which include these varieties.
Completing a Franklin Half Dollar Series
Setting a goal to complete a series of minted coins may at first seem daunting for a new collector. Most coins are produced for over twenty five years and from many different mints; making the task a large one. The Franklin half is an exception, though. The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 23rd, 1963 created the desire to mint a coin honoring the lost President. It was voted the coin to replace would be the Franklin half. And so, in 1964, the new Kennedy half dollar was circulated.
Finding and placing the last coin in a slot to complete a series is a wonderful feeling for a collector. Since only thirty five coins are needed for a whole Franklin series, making and achieving this goal can be accomplished. The finished product will be an attractive display of history and illustrate a collector’s determination and delight.
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