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    

Full Set Of Bu Franklin Half Dollars Lightly Toned In Vintage Album 35 CoinsOriginal Roll 1955 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1963-d Franklin Silver Half Dollars .50 Gem Bu Original Unsearched Roll Scarce!Franklin Half Dollar Set Complete 1948-1963 In New Album 35 Coins Total1953-p Franklin Half Dollar Proof 50c - Ngc Pf 65 *no Reserve!Original Roll 1950 Franklin Silver Halves ..ch/gem BuFranklin Half Dollar Complete Set 1948 - 1963 ( Bu ) 35 Pc In Capital Holder1959 Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated 20 Coin Roll, $10 Face Value ~ All White!Lot Of 20 Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver Brilliant Uncirculated Roll ~ FblComplete 1948-1963 Ben Franklin 90% Silver 48 Half Dollar Set In Book W Kennedy1948 50c Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Fbl1952 Franklin Half Dollar, Key Date Proof, ** Free Shipping!1952 - S Franklin Silver Half Dollar ( 1 Coin)1950 Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Pf66 1951 Silver Proof Franklin Half Pcgs Graded Pr661948 50c Franklin Half Dollar Gem Bu Roll1952 Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated 20 Coin Roll, $10 Face ~white & Lustrous!1952 Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated 20 Coin Roll, $10 Face ~blast White!!!1957 D Pcgs Ms66fbl Original Colorful Toned Franklin Half Dollar 1953-d 50c Franklin Half Dollar Gem Bu Roll1959 50c Franklin Half Dollar Coin Ngc Pf67 Cameo With Star Designation1959 Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated 20 Coin Roll, $10 Face ~ White & Untoned!1956 Franklin Half Dollar (ngc Graded) In Highest Mirror Cameo Mint Proof 681959-d 50c Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Fbl1949-d Franklin 50 Cents - Full Bell Line - Pcgs Ms641962-d Franklin Half Dollar Uncirculated 20 Coin Roll, $10 Face ~ Blast White!!!*lot Of 5 Proof Franklin Half Dollars 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 *Lot Of (15) Franklin Half Dollars In Protective Display Case1963-p 50c Franklin Half Dollar Bank Wrapped Gem Bu Roll 1952-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar 50c Coin Pcgs Ms 641952-s Pcgs Ms64 Franklin Half Dollar!!1948 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Bu/ms***pq Show StopperUncirculated 1949-d Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!Uncirculated 1949-s Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!1949 D Franklin Half Dollar Choice Bu1955-p Franklin Half Dollar In Average Circulated Condition (free Shipping) 1955 P Franklin Half Dollar Bu Uncirculated Bu+++ Gem Rare Key Date1962-d Silver Franklin Half Dollar..............choice/buRoll 1962 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem ProofsLot Roll Of 33 Xf+ To Au Franklin Silver Half DollarsUnc Roll (20) 1963 D Ben Franklin Us 90% Silver Half Dollars Coins No Reserve(1) Roll 1954 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Coins (20)1954-d 50c Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Fbl1949-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 From Original Mint Set 1952 Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Ms 66 Fbl1950 50c Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64fbl1953 Franklin Half Dollar Anacs Ms65 Fbl Old White Holder.scarce This Nice ! 1952-d Franklin Silver Half Dollar 50c Coin Pcgs Ms64fbl Ms 64 FblUncirculated 1955 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!1953 S Ben Franklin Half Silver Dollar 1948 D Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs 64 Full Bell Lines Omaha Bank HoardUncirculated 1948 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!1949-s Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free ShippingOriginal Roll 1963-d Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1962 50c Pcgs Ms64fbl Full Bell Lines Franklin - RareFranklin Silver Half Dollar Roll Of 20 90% Silver Coins Pre 65 Coin Lot Lot Of 20 Walking Liberty Half Dollars 90% Silver Better Than Average RollGem Au $10 Face Value Roll Of Franklin Half Dollars - 90% Silver 20 Coins1895-o Xf Barber Half Dollar Nice Coin Okc1950-d Ngc Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Ngc Ms 65 Fbl ** Free Shipping