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thatcoinguy's Blog

22 Sep 2021

Benjamin Franklin Half Dollars: A Personal Favorite

Coins-United States | thatcoinguy

Benjamin Franklin Half Dollars were struck from 1948-1963. It was the last full coin design change before the ones we are familiar with today. It was struck in 90% silver. This was the fifth coin with an actual person, and the first with a person who had not held office as a president. The obverse has a bust of Mr. Franklin, one of the most liked, and in my opinion, interesting founding fathers to this day. The reverse of this particular 50 cent piece has the Liberty Bell in all of it's cracked glory, along with a tiny Eagle, which is the smallest of our national animal ever depicted on a coin. The Ben Franklin Half Dollar has a reeded edge. The circulation strikes were struck at the San Francisco mint, along with the Philadelphia and Denver mints. The proofs were made by the Philadelphia mint, in addition to the circulation coins.


The coin was first designed by John R. Sinnock, who also designed the Roosevelt Dime and sculpted the current Purple Heat design, before he died in 1947.Gilroy Roberts finished the design after Mr. Sinnock passed. I have not found (though I may have missed) Roberts' initials on the final design, only Sinnock's.The initials on the coin, "JRS" were badly received by the public, who though a Kremlin infiltrator had put it there for Joseph Stalin (even though Stalin's middle name did not start with R).


A total of 465,814,445 circulation coins were struck. Another 15,886,955 were struck as proofs. There are only 35 different dates and mink marks you need to finish the series. The key date in an MS-65 set is the 1949-D ($175 wholesale in MS-65), although if you are collecting the proofs as well, the key is the 1950 proof specimen ($400 wholesale in PF-65). A popular and interesting variety resides in the 1955 "Bugs Bunny" half, as it appears that Ben is sticking his teeth out. Though I have had many opportunities, I have never purchased this particular variety, though it is on my list to one day belong in my collection.


If you have a membership with CONECA, you may have read the recent article on type-1 and type-2 varieties. If you have the magazine and somehow have no red that article, I strongly recommend you to read it. Another important factor in pricing in the coins is Full Bell Lines, or FBL. FBL is when all of the seven parallel lines on the bottom half of the bell are complete and unbroken. The three wisps of hair to the right of Franklin's ear must also be visible. PCGS and NGC designate FBL when a coin comes in for grading and it meets the requirements, although there are a few raw ones that may have the opportunity to be cherry picked, as the FBL coins have a higher value than non-FBL Franklins of the same grade.


Keep collecting,

thatcoinguy.


P.S. You may notice that I said "In an MS-65 set the key date is the 1949-D..." I said that because in any grade MS-64 or lower, the 1949-S is the key date ($82 wholesale for the '49-S in MS-64, $60 wholesale for the '49-D in MS-64.


P.P. S. You guys know if any shows other that WFM that needs pages? Trying to earn a little more crash for my collection, and that sounded fun.

Comments

Kepi

Level 6

Nice blog! The Franklin is a great coin! I have the "Bugs Bunny" and it really does look like rabbit teeth... haha ; )

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I've always loved this coin and completed my set last year

thatcoinguy

Level 4

Congrats! Hopefully I’ll complete the set one day too…

Long Beard

Level 5

While the Franklin half has been towards the low side of average among the many other U.S. series based on popularity, there seems to be an increase in interest over the past five years looking at previous and current auction results. While the commodities market always factors into silver coinages value I believe collectors are slowly taking note that they have been undervalued far too long. Especially the all important full bell lines.

Golfer

Level 5

I have a 49 S , but not much else. Great series to collect. Saw a beautiful set of 12 proofs at last weekends coin show. I think our club president bought it.

TheNumisMaster

Level 5

Literally just came from that article! Thanks for the read, just got a bulk load of franklins from my lcs. Be well, my friend!

"SUN"

Level 6

Having put a set together. One of hard series to grade.

thatcoinguy

Level 4

Definitely! I usually am pretty accurate grading by myself, but when I am buying this series, I definitely use a grading guide!

user_9073

Level 5

You might want to check your Redbook on where the proofs were struck.

thatcoinguy

Level 4

They were made in Philadelphia. They are one of the few proofs that weren’t made in San Francisco. Interesting, huh?

Mokie

Level 6

Very well written and informative. I must confess though that the Franklin Half is among my least favorite coin designs of the 20th century. I think I only dislike the Roosevelt Dime design more. But I am an outlier that should be categorized as such. (:

thatcoinguy

Level 4

@Mokie you are THAT much of an outlier…

AC coin$

Level 4

Great looking BEN FRANKLIN Nice blog and attractive coin for you.

CoinHunter

Level 5

Splendid blog! And nice article! I didn't even realize it was by you, I will be reading it again now! Hit me up about a trade if you are interested in that nice 1961 benji that I picked out of my dealers silver bin (and/or other stuff) that is if you have stuff to trade, and if you want to/can trade.

thatcoinguy

Level 4

Lol about that first part.

Longstrider

Level 6

Nice blog, well done. I always have liked this design. I am old enough to remember that guy in my pocket. It was a lot of money to a kid. Being a fairly large coin made it even better. Fun fact: It's been said that he had a bit of a woman problem back then while in Europe. Not sure I can say that now. Lots of good varieties to pick through with this coin. The favorite Bugs Bunny is a good one. Thanks, good read. As far as a page job, I am going to a show in Las Vegas next month. Check out CK Shows. They put them on. Nice folks that may have some ideas for you. They put on quite a few shows. Good luck and a great idea.

thatcoinguy

Level 4

CK shows? What are those?

Mike

Level 7

He was one of the greats. Going back and forth to France to give us support against the Brits. To think 2006 was his 300 birthday. Thanks for the blog. Enjoyed it

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