Franklin Half Dollar (1948-1963)

Image Courtesy of David Lawrence Rare Coins

The U.S. Mint has been around since shortly after the founding of this great country, and since its inception the U.S. Mint has produced coinage not only for the United States but for other countries as well. The mint was originally founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but later began to branch out as it grew. With each new facility producing coinage for the U.S. Mint, a new mintmark was added to coins to identify the location they were minted at.

Since the U.S. Mint first began operations, it has minted many different types of coins over the years. The mint has produced not only coins for circulation, but also many commemorative and symbolic coins as well. The Founding Fathers played a vital role in shaping the United States, and the Franklin Half Dollar pays tribute to one of the most famous of the Founding Fathers-Benjamin Franklin.

The Franklin Half Dollar is a very popular silver coin and carries a face value of $.50. These coins were minted from 1948-1963. These coins remain in demand today due to their historical significance and symbolism. The following sections will discuss in detail the history, design and popularity of these coins and why they are sought after by collectors.

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Franklin Half Dollar History

The Franklin Half Dollar came about because then-mint director Nellie Tayloe Ross was an admirer of Franklin and wanted his likeness depicted on a coin. In 1947, Ms. Ross instructed the mint’s chief engraver, John Sinnock, to begin working on designs for such a coin. Unfortunately, Mr. Sinnock passed away before the completion of his designs, and his successor, Gilroy Roberts, completed the coin’s final design.

The coins were first released in April of 1948 and soon after experienced a degree of controversy. Sinnock’s initials, JRS, appeared on the coin at the cutoff of Franklin’s shoulder. Some believed that these initials were actually a tribute to former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The mint explained, however, that these initials were simply Sinnock’s initials-nothing more-and the mint made no changes to the coin’s design. Franklin Half Dollars were then regularly minted until 1963. In 1964, the coin was replaced by the Kennedy Half Dollar.

Franklin Half Dollar Design

The design of the Franklin half Dollar was the work of John Sinnock. The design pays tribute to one of the most highly recognized Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin.

The coin’s obverse features the portrait profile of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’s profile appears with flowing hair and is cut off at the shoulder. The obverse, although featuring a detailed profile of Franklin, is relatively simple in terms of additional details. The top of the coin bears the word “Liberty” while the bottom of the face features the phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The year of minting is also featured.

The reverse of the Franklin Half Dollar contains the Liberty Bell, along with eagle. The Liberty Bell displays the crack in the bell, and was originally ridiculed. In addition, the initial reaction to the coin’s design objected to the small eagle although the mint went ahead with the design anyway. In addition to the detailed bell and eagle, the reverse also features several phrases including “E PLURIBUS UNUM, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR.”

The Liberty bell is wonderfully detailed with an intricate design, and the coin’s design makes it one of the most symbolic coins minted.

Popularity Among Collectors

For coin collectors, the Franklin Half Dollar is popular for several reasons. This coin features a design of historical significance and features the profile of one of the most famous Americans in history.

The Franklin Half Dollar is also a fifty cent piece, making it different than many other coins available with face values of $1, $5 or more. In addition to the coin’s face value, these coins are also valued based on their silver content. This coin was minted from 90 percent pure silver with a reeded edge.

Another reason that collectors may gravitate towards these coins is their advancing age. The Franklin Half Dollar ceased being minted over a half century ago and with age may come increasing demand for these historical fifty cent pieces.

Franklin Half Dollars were produced in limited mintages in the early years, and collectors may desire to own some of the original editions. These coins are not considered rare, however, and may be fairly easy to come by.

Franklin Half Dollar

DATE GOOD FINE EXTREMELY FINE UNCIRCULATED
1948 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $16 N/A
1948 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $16 N/A
1949 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $18 N/A
1949 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $18 N/A
1950 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1950 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1951 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1951 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1951 Franklin Half Dollar (S) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1952 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1952 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1952 Franklin Half Dollar (S) N/A N/A $17 N/A
1953 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1953 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1953 Franklin Half Dollar (S) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1954 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1954 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1954 Franklin Half Dollar (S) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1955 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $22 N/A
1956 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1957 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1957 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1958 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1958 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1959 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1959 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1960 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1960 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1961 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1961 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1962 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1962 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
1963 Franklin Half Dollar N/A N/A $14 N/A
1963 Franklin Half Dollar (D) N/A N/A $14 N/A
Source: Red Book