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    

Roll Of (20) Uncirculated 1953-s Franklin Half Dollars.1956 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66 Fbl TonedOriginal Roll 1957 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1962-d Franklin Half Dollar Roll 90% Silver Original Bu Roll Of 20 UncirculatedLot: Ten (10) 90% Silver Franklin Half Dollar Coins - No ReserveBeautiful Ngc Ms64 Fbl 1948 P Silver Franklin Half Dollar First Year Of Issue!!1955 Proof Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Pf67 #1551953 Ngc Pf66 Cameo Franklin Silver Half Proof 66 Cameo 1948 Franklin Silver Half Dollar Roll 20 HalvesKey Date!! Pcgs Pr65 1956 Type 1 Proof Silver Franklin Half Dollar Proof Coin!!Benjamin Franklin Silver Half Dollar Complete Set 1948-1963 35 CoinsU.s. Franklin Half Dollar Silver Coin Lot Of 40 Mixed DatesTwo Rolls Or 40 Franklin 90% Silver Half Dollars10 Us 90% Silver Coins Franklin Half Dollars $5.00 Face Value Mix No Cull Lot 1952-s Franklin Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!Original Roll 1950 Franklin Silver Halves Bu1952 S Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65Roll 1960 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Proofs1956 Type 2 Proof Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Pf68 High Grade Registry Coin #156Beautiful Coin Ngc Ms65 Fbl 1959 D Full Bell Lines Silver Franklin Half Dollar!1951-s Franklin Half Dollar Ms 65 Pcgs & Cac.1952 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms64fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~colorOriginal Roll 1949 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1962 ? Franklin Half Dollar Original Bank Wrapped Roll - $20 RollProof Roll 1956-1962 Silver Franklin Half DollarsBeautiful Coin Pcgs Pr67 Cam 1956 Type 2 Cameo Proof Silver Franklin Half Dollar1952-d Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Ms 65 Fbl - Full Bell Lines - Nice Toning!Beautiful Ngc Ms65 Fbl 1948 D Silver Franklin Half Dollar First Year Of Issue!!1963 Franklin Half Dollar Segs Uncirculated Blast White Gem Full Bell Lines1949-d 50c Fl Franklin Half Dollar Blazing Choice Bu Fbl! .99 Start PriceOriginal Roll 1948 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuRoll Of 1970-d Key Date Silver Kennedy Half Dollars 20 Coins1948-1963 * Franklin Half Dollar Collection *high Grade * 35 Coins * In Holder1960d Franklin Silver Half Dollar Roll 20 HalvesBeautiful Coin Pcgs Pr65 Cam 1955 Cameo Proof Silver Franklin Half DollarInvestor Lot Of 5 - Ngc 1963 Ms 64 50c - Franklin Half Dollar Coins - Rare - Nr!1960 Proof Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Pf68 High Grade Registry Coin #1601960-d Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 64 Fbl ** Free S/h!1951-1959 Ben Franklin Half Silver Dollars- 21 Coins1958-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~Face Value 10$ Pre 1964 Franklin Half Dollar 90% Silver Collectible Coins Set 201956 Type-2 Cameo Proof Franklin Graded Ngc Pf67 Cameo1948 1949 1950 **lot Of 3 Uncirculated** Silver Franklin Half Dollars 1958 Franklin Half Dollar Ms 65 Pcgs. Old Green Rattler Holder!!1948 To 1963 Franklin Half Dollars Complete Set ~ Silver~1958 Silver Bu Unc Franklin Half Dollar Roll Of 20 Coins Roll Of 1970-s Proof Silver Kennedy Half Dollars 20 Coins9 - Proof Franklin Halves In A Capitol Plastics Holder 1955 Thru 19631949-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~ogh1949-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar Bu1956 U.s. Coins Proof Set Encased In Lucite Paper Weight National Bank Boston1957 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Pr67 Superb Cameo Contrast!. Really Pcgs? 1949-d United States Franklin Half Dollar ( Gem Uncirculated )1956-p Proof Franklin Half Dollar 90% Silver Coin 50cUncirculated 1949 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!1962-d Ngc Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Ngc Ms 64 Fbl ** Free ShippingBu 1955 Franklin Silver Half DollarLot Of (16) Ben Franklin Half Dollar 90% Pure Silver Coins1960-d Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65 ** Free Shipping!1949-50 1952-53 1962-63 Usa Half Dollar Silver Coin Franklin Set Of 9 Pcs