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    

Bulk Lot Of 154 Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver 50¢ Us Silver Coins No Reserve1954 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf67 ~ Stunning Proof! #517-001Beautiful Pcgs Ms 65 Fbl 1962 D Franklin Half Dollar, Golden Toning ! Rare Fbl1951 Franklin Half Dollar, Proof, Superb Gem Pf++, Super Pq, ** Free Shipping!1956 Type 2 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf68* Star ~ Stunning Proof! #521-005Half Roll Franklin Silver Half Dollar Lot Of 10 Coins-circulated (coin-119)Lot Of 8 50c Franklin Silver Half Dollars1951 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms64 Super Rainbow Toned~colorful Toning~rare Color1954 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms65 Classic Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning1949-s Franklin Half Dollar, Better Date2 Complete Sets 35 Franklin Half Dollars 1948-1963 In Album * * **1954 Pf Pr 66 90% Silver Proof Franklin Half Dollar, Pcgs, No Reserve Free Ship1953-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar ~ Ch/bu+1949 S Franklin Half Dollar - Nice Unc Coin - Key Date - No Reserve1949-d Franklin Silver Half Dollar ~ Bu1954-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms65fbl Classic Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning1955 Franklin Half Dollar ~ Ngc Pf69 ~ Stunning Proof! #095-001Au Roll +2 Mixed Date Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver 22 Coins Very Nice1953 Cameo Proof Franklin Silver Half Dollar Actual Photos~~no Reserve Auction~~Benjamin Franklin Silver Coin LotLot Of 2 Nice Franklin Half Dollars - 1953 D & 19591959 Franklin Half Dollar Bu Rainbow Toned ~colorful Toning~uncOriginal Roll 1951-s Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuRoll 1962 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Proofs$100.00 Face 90% Silver Franklin Half DollarsBu Roll Of 20 Franklin Half Dollar Silver Coins 1958-d W/ Plastic Case1956 Type 2 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf69 ~ Stunning Proof! #095-0131952 Franklin Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms 66 Fbl Cac1955 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf68 ~ Stunning Proof! #521-0011949-d 50c Franklin Half Dollar Graded Ms 64 Fbl By Pcgs1962 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf67* Cameo Star ~ Stunning Proof! #520-0021950 Pcgs Ms 64 Fbl Franklin Half Dollar, Beautiful Coin! Stunning Luster !!1954 D Pcgs Ms65fbl Gem Full Bell Line Franklin Half Dollar1954-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar ~ Ch/bu+1960 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf67* Cameo Star! ~ Stunning Proof! #520-001Beautiful Pcgs Ms 66 1953 S Franklin Half Dollar, Beautiful Light Toning !!1953-d 50c - Franklin Half Dollar - Ngc Certified - Denver - Ms 65 Fbl 74473 1956 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66 Classic Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~Original Roll 1952 Franklin Halves.. Gem Bu70 Coins Silver Lot$35 Face Value Mixed Half-dollars- 90% Silver (avg Circ)Original Roll 1962-d Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuOriginal Roll 1963 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1960 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf68 Cameo ~ Stunning Proof! #522-00110 Franklin Half Dollar Coins Silver 1949-s Almost Uncirculated Or Better $5face1955 Ngc Ms-65 Fbl Franklin Half Dollar1960 Franklin Half Dollar 50c ~ Ngc Pf67 Cameo ~ Stunning Proof! #519-0011948 Ngc Ms-64 Fbl Franklin Half Dollar1953 D Franklin Silver Half Dollar Certified Ms 64 Fbl By Pcgs! Mint Set Toned 1952-s Pcgs Ms-65 Franklin Half Dollar1953/1963 Franklin Half Dollars (ms 63/ms 64) Ngc 2 Coins1949-s Franklin Half Dollar - Uncirculated1948 D Ngc Ms 64 Fbl Franklin Half Dollar, Beautiful Coin! Beautiful Luster !!1955 P Franklin Silver Half Dollar Uncirculated Coin Auction Free Shipping 1961 Franklin Half Dollar - Pcgs Certified Pr65camOriginal Roll 1950-d Franklin Silver Halves..gem BuLot C - 60 (sixty) Silver Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver Good CondBu Roll Of 20 Franklin Half Dollar Silver Coins 1958-d W/ Plastic CaseBu Roll Of 20 Franklin Half Dollar Silver Coins 1963-p W/ Plastic CaseOriginal Roll Ch Gem Bu Fbl 1949 P Franklin Half Roll, Or (10) Silver Halves1953 Proof Franklin Silver Half Dollar Actual Photos ~~no Reserve Auction~~