In this installment of Grading Coins, I’m going to talk about the popular Franklin half dollar series.
The Franklin half dollar was struck for just 15 years, from 1948 to 1963. It was replaced in 1964 by the Kennedy half, under circumstances that need no explanation here.
Personally, when it comes to 20th-century type half dollars, I’ve always been most fond of Weinman’s Walking Liberty design, but the Franklin half is a close second. It has a clean, clear design that I find to be uncluttered and timeless.
Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock is best remembered for being the designer of the Roosevelt dime, but it's the Franklin half that I find to be his best work.
The coin’s obverse features a right-facing bust of Franklin. He is surrounded by LIBERTY at the top and IN GOD WE TRUST at the bottom. Both inscriptions wrap around the rim. The date appears to the right of Franklin, just underneath his chin.
On the reverse, centered, is the Liberty Bell. I’ll discuss this feature in depth in a moment. Again, wrapping around the top and the bottom of the design is text, in this case, the legend and denomination: UNITED STATES oF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR. Our national motto - E PLURIBUS UNUM - appears in a smaller font to the left of the bell. The statutorily-required eagle (drawn in miniature) stands to the right of the bell.
Its this perfect symmetry of obverse and reverse design that makes the Franklin half dollar a true classic.
Today, Franklin half dollars are widely collected by mint, by date, in Proof and Mint State finishes, and by variety. A complete set of BU Franklins can cost as little as a few hundred dollars over silver spot or as much as 10 or more thousand dollars per coin, depending on characteristics that I will describe in this column.
The key to collecting the series is finding coins that you like with great eye appeal, coins that you enjoy looking at, and coins that you want to own.
The key to grading them? Well, that’s another story...Read more