The Franklin half dollar was struck from 1948 until 1963 and was designed by Mint engraver John R. Sinnock, who also designed the Roosevelt dime. It was the last coin credited to Sinnock, who passed away in 1947 before it circulated.

Sinnock’s Franklin featured the bust of the great Philadelphia inventor, publisher, and signer to the Declaration of Independence on the obverse, with an image of the Liberty Bell on the reverse. Sinnock adapted his Liberty Bell from one he had used for the 1926 commemorative sesquicentennial half dollar. As it turned out, Sinnock's bell was based on an uncredited sketch by fellow engraver John Frederick Lewis.

To contemporary eyes, the Liberty Bell appears innocuous, but it was greeted with strenuous objections from the government’s advisory Fine Arts Commission. The controversy concerned the bell’s crack, which the commission feared “might lead to statements derogatory to United States coinage.” The commission's formal rejection of the design was ignored by Treasury officials, and the coin’s bell, like the real one, was struck with its crack intact.

Another feature of the coin’s reverse is a small heraldic eagle, which was placed there thanks to a 1792 law requiring all coins of greater denomination than a dime to depict the regal raptor. Engraved by Frank Gasparro, the eagle was placed to the right of the bell, but its relief during the coin’s first decade of circulation was so low that in 1958 a Type II coin was introduced. Eagles on these coins featured greater relief and can be differentiated from earlier versions by the three eagle wings to the left of the bird’s perch rather than four.

The most common problem with the Franklin half dollar is on the reverse, where the rows of faint horizontal lines at the bottom of the bell are often incomplete. Coins with fully struck lines are highly sought-after by collectors. The most infamous error occurred in the 1955 coins, in which a die clash gave Franklin a few extra teeth, creating what has become known as the Bugs Bunny variant.

Like the Roosevelt dime, the Franklin half dollar bore Sinnock’s initials. But on the Roosevelt dime, Sinnock used only the letters "J" and "S" for his first and last name, which some Americans believed stood for Joseph Stalin, a claim the U.S. government was obliged to counter with the facts. To squelch such Cold War rumors before they got started, Sinnock added his middle initial, "R," to his signature on the Franklin half dollar.

Franklin half dollars could have been struck in 1964, but on November 25, 1963, just three days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Mint director Eva Adams called engraver Gilroy Roberts to inform him that the late president's portrait needed to be readied for a silver coin. By December 30, 1963, Congress had passed a bill authorizing the Kennedy half dollar.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

$$$$$ 1961 *unopened *franklin *silver *half Dollar Bank Roll *20 Gem Coins $$$$1950 Franklin Half Dollar, Fabulous Proof! ** Free Shipping!1955 Franklin 50 C Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf 68 -fresh Grade - Stunning Coin!1948-1963 Complete Set Of Franklin Silver Half Dollar Coins (35) In Dansco Album1951 Franklin 50 C Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf 65 Light Cameo On Reverse - Pq!1951 Franklin Proof Half Dollar Investment Quality Franklin No Spots Or Hazing1951 Anacs Franklin Half Dollar, Proof, Anacs Pf 61 ** Free Shipping!1948 - 1963 Franklin Half Dollar 35 Coin Complete Set In Intercept Shield Book$$$$$ 1963 *unopened *franklin *silver *half Dollar Bank Roll *20 Gem Coins $$$$1958-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl Cac Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~1954-d Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Unc Details Genuine Rainbow Album Toned~toning~Set Of (34) 90% Silver Franklin Half Dollars 1948-1963-d Almost Complete! (#e97)Gem+ 1956 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Type 1 See Pics, Stunner Coin1958-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66 Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~color1948-1963 50c Franklin Silver Half Dollar Set Gem BuComplete Set Circ - 35 *mints* Franklin Halfs In 1948-1963 Whitman Album Id#y5151949-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65fbl Cac Light Mint Set Toning~toned20 Franklin Silver Half Dollar $10.00 Face Value U.s. Coin Lot Mixed Dates Avg 1958-d Franklin Half Dollar Bu Roll 20 Pcs Unc Gem Fresh *no Reserve!1948 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned~toning~colorFranklin Half Dollar Uncirculated Roll1954-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned~toning~colorUncirculated 1949-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar Free Shipping!Complete Set - 35 Unc/bu Franklin Halfs In 1948-1963 Dansco Album Id# Y517Full Bu Roll 20 Proof Franklin Silver Half Dollars Mixed Dates 57 59 60 61 62 63Roll Of (20) 1963-d Silver Franklin Half Dollars **uncirculated**1953 Franklin Half Dollar Proof, Great Proof! ** Free Shipping!1956 Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 66 Fbl ** Super Nice!Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated RollFranklin Half Dollar Uncirculated Roll1953-s Franklin Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1960-d Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 64+ Fbl ** Free S/h!1949 S Franklin Half Dollar Bu1957 Franklin Half Ngc Ms66 Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~Bu $10 Roll Of 1963 Franklin Silver Half Dollars! 20 Silver Halves Beautiful!Lot Of 7 Benjamin Franlkin Half Dollars 1963 Vg-vf1959 D Franklin Half Dollar, Gem Bu, Fbl, Fr. 7070 Type Set, Nr1954 & 1957 Silver Franklins: 2 Coins In Vf To Xf - Shipped Free !Uncirculated 1952-d Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!Complete Franklin Half Dollar Collection, 1948 To 1963-d, Vf To Bu Conditions1952 Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Certified Pf 66 Proof Silver Coin1950 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65fbl 98% White Surfaces~ Gem Mint1953-d Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65fbl Lightly Toned~gem Mint1953 Franklin Half Dollar Pf 64, Ngc. Mucho Luster! Free Shipping & Handling!1963 Pcgs Pr66 Gem Colorful Toned Proof Franklin Half DollarUncirculated 1948 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!Roll Of 20 1961 Proof Franklin 90% Silver Half Dollars Gem Proofs!Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated Roll1952-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms-65 Gem Bu Lustrous Flashy White1953-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Lightly Toned~gem Mint Ogh Rattler1951-d Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~1951-d Franklin Half Dollar ~ Toned ~colorful Toning ~looks Fbl~bu1952-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar Gem BuLot Of 5 Benjamin Franklin Half Dollars Vg-vfTwo 1949-p & One 1953-s Franklin 90% Silver Half Dollars 3 Coin Lot1955 Franklin Half Dollar Proof, Gorgeous! ** Free Shipping!1953 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64fbl 95% White Surfaces~ Neargem Mint1963 Franklin Half Dollar, Proof, Cameo, 90% Silver, Free Shipping, No ReserveBarber Franklin Kennedy Silver Half Dollar Lot (3) Coin CollectionUncirculated 1954-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar Free Shipping!