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    

Original Roll 1955 "bugs Bunny" Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1956 Franklin Half Type 1 Ngc Graded Pf 68Lot Of Nineteen (19) Franklin Half Dollars Au/bu, Dated 1951-1963 Stunning Original Gem Bu Roll 1963-d Silver Ben Franklin Halves In Bank Wrapper1954-d Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 65 Fbl ** Free S/h!Uncirculated 1948 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!Ngc Pf 66 1950 Franklin Half Dollar Proof C1359Complete Franklin Silver Half Set.. 1948-1963 Pds.. Ch/gem BuRoll Of 20 Mixed Date Franklin Half Dollars Choice Bu1950 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65+fbl Cac Rainbow Roll Toned~colorful Toning~35 Coin Franklin Silver Half Dollar Set 1948-1963 Au-unc In Dansco AlbumMixed Lot Of 20~ $10 Dollar Roll Franklin Half Dollars 1950s And 1960s 90%silver1948-1963 Set Of Franklin Half Dollars In Intercept Shield Book~34 Coins~90% 0.7 Rolls (28 Each) Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver Mix Dates 1949 Thru 1963Hjb - 1948 Franklin Half Dollar Ms65 Fbl NgcLot Of 11 Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver1953-s Franklin Half Dollar, Lustrous!Set 1948-1963 Benjamin Franklin Half Dollars CirculatedOne Roll 20 Coins 90% Silver Franklin Half Dollars Lot # 41953 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Pr64 Cac Super Rainbow Toned~colorful Toning~1948 Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 65 Fbl ** Free Shipping1952 Franklin Half Ngc Pf 67 Pq!1958 Cameo Franklin Half Proof 68 Cameo By Ngc GorgeousOriginal Roll 1955 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1949-s Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65 ** Free Shipping1952-s Franklin Half Dollar 50c, Mint State Uncirculated ~ Scarce Date! White Bu1948 - 1963 Franklin Half Dollar Collection Complete Set ~ 35 Silver HalvesNgc Pf 66 1952 Franklin Half Dollar Proof C13581953 P Franklin Half Dollar (ngc Graded) Beaming In Mirror Cameo Mint Proof $10 Roll Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver 3186$10 Roll Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver 25921948 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66+fbl Cac Rainbow Toned~colorful Toning~color1952-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar Ms 64 Pcgs.1949-d Ngc Ms65 Fbl Franklin Half Dollar!!(20) Franklin Half Dollars Roll Mixed Date 90% Silver Us Coin Lot Set S-9161956 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl - Nicely TonedRoll Of 1968-s Proof Silver Kennedy Half Dollars 20 Coins1953 Franklin Half Dollar Proof, Blast White Proof! ** Free Shipping!1960 Franklin Half Dollar (ngc Graded) Superb In High Beaming Cameo Proof 1954 Franklin Half Dollar, Super Pq Lustrous Gem! ** Full Bell Lines!1948-d Franklin Half Dollar Bu * Free Shipping *1955 Gem Bu Bugs Bunny Fbl Franklin Silver Half Dollar~lot #10!Uncirculated 1948 Silver Franklin Half Dollar Free S/h!!1949-s Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Ms64 Colorful Rainbow Album Toned~old Fat SlabOriginal Roll 1959-d Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1948-1963 Complete Set Of Franklin Half Dollars - Plus 4 ProofsOriginal Roll 1959 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu$10 Roll Franklin Half Dollars 90% Silver 44291954-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66 Cac Lightly Toned~colorful Rim Toning~Au/uncirculated 1952-s 50c Franklin Half Dollar (no Reserve) [e196]Ngc Pf 68 1956 Type 1 Franklin Half Dollar Proof T1 C13501948-1963 50c Franklin Silver Half Dollar Set Ch/gem Bu1956 Type 2 Franklin Half 50c Ngc Pf-69Tube Of 20 1963 D 50c Franklin Silver Half DollarsRoll Of 1962-d Bu Us Franklin Half Dollars1962 Franklin Half Dollar Proof 50c Ngc Cameo Pf 68, No Reserve!!!!3 Day Auction! 1 Roll $10 Face Value Circulated Franklin Halves 90% SilverNgc Ms65 Fbl 1952 P Full Bell Lines Silver Franklin Half Dollar!! Nice Coin!!One (1) Unsearched Half Dollar Roll Ben Franklin Silver Ender Littleton Complete Franklin Half Dollar Set With Album (35) Coins