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    

Complete Uncirculated Franklin Silver Half Dollar Coin Set (35 Coins) No Reserve1955 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms65fbl Super Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~1950-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms65fbl Super Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~1958 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~1951 Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~$20 1963 Franklin Halves-90% Silver-40 Coin Roll-(bu)-original Bank Roll-uncirc.1951 Franklin Half Dollar, Exquisite Superb Gem Proof, Better Date Pf!23 Franklin Silver Half Dollars1953-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~1952 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf65 - A Stunning Coin. Problem Free!Dancso Complete Franklin Half Dollar Album!! 35 Bu Coins, 1948-1963 Gem UncFranklin Half Dollar Set 1948-1963 ~ 35 Coins ~ Complete Bu Set1950 Proof Set Ch To Gem (half Real Nice)Roll Of 1970-d Key Date Silver Kennedy Half Dollars 20 Coins1956 Franklin Half Dollar Silver Pcgs Pr69 "type 2" 50c1950 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Pr66cam Beautiful, Rare Proof Coin!Franklin Half Dollars Silver Complete Set 1948-1963 Vintage Whitman Album Folder1949-s Franklin Half Dollar "pcgs Ms64fbl" *free Shipping After First Item*1952-s Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66 Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~1951-s Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 64 * Highly Coveted Old Green Rattler!Lot Of 4 Franklin Silver Half Dollars Coins Bu 1948-d, 1949-s, 1950, & 1951Complete Set Of Franklin Half Dollars 1948 - 1963 D Whitman Album 35 Coins1961 Franklin Half Dollar Roll 90% Silver Gem Proof 20 Us Coins1962 Franklin Silver Dollar Roll Of 20 Coins Gem Proof Mint Flawless Extra Fine1957-d Franklin Half Dollar Ms66 Great Toning! No Reserve Auction!1956 Proof Franklin Half Dollar Type 2 Ngc Pf67 ✰ - Problem Free Coin!Lot Of 80 Franklin & Kennedy Half Dollars, 4 Rolls 90% Silver Coins, $40 FaceLot 40 Gem Brilliant Uncirculated Roll 1958-p Franklin Silver Half Dollars Original Bu Roll Of 20 1957-d Franklin Half DollarsOutstanding Franklin 90% Silver Half Dollar Proof Uncirc Coin Collection Dansco 1956 Ngc Proof 67 Type "1" Silver Franklin Half! Blazing White Gem! No Toning!Bu Roll Of 1961 Franklin Half Dollars. Nice Bright Roll Of Coins! No Reserve!Complete Set Of Franklin Half Dollars 1948 - 1963 D Dansco Album 35 Coins1956 Proof Set With Type 1 Franklin Half Dollar. Clean, Problem-free Gems! Uncirculated 1953-s Franklin Silver Half Dollar Free Shipping!   14 U.s. Franklin Proof Half Dollars 1950-1963 Complete Set Silver Ungraded 1951 S Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 64 Fbl Full Bell LineGorgeous!! 1955, Proof Franklin Half, Certified "proof 67" By Ngc!! Wowzer!!!1954 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf66 - A Beautiful Coin. Problem Free!1961 Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 64 Fbl ** Free ShippingLot (5) Au-uncirculated Franklin Half Dollars, 1950 D 1951 D S 1952 D Silver 50cUncirculated 1950-d Franklin Silver Half Dollar Free Shipping!  1962-d, Franklin Half $ Dollar, (3) Choice Bu. Rolls.**beautiful Set Of "35" Uncirculated Franklin Half Dollars**1955 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf68 - A Stunning Coin. Problem Free!Original Roll 1950 Franklin Silver Halves ..ch/gem Bu1957 Roll Of Silver Franklin Half Dollars 20 Coins Bu UncRoll Of 1962-d Choice+/choice++ B.u Franklin Half Dollars, 20 Coins1951 Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Ms65 Fbl Ngc Price Guide $2601962 Pcgs Pr67cam Franklin Half Dollar Silver 50c(3) Franklin Half Dollars 50c 1955 / 1956 Type 2 / 1957 - Ngc Pf 66 *no Reserve!Lot Of 100 Franklin & Kennedy Half Dollars, 5 Rolls 90% Silver Coins, $50 FaceLot Of 80 Franklin & Kennedy Half Dollars, 4 Rolls 90% Silver Coins, $40 Face1948-1963 D Complete Franklin Silver Half Dollar Set In Album Nice Free Ship Usa1953 - 1963 Lot Of 11 Ungraded Proof Franklin 50c Half Dollars - Free Shipping!1955 Franklin Half 'bugs Bunny' Pcgs Ms65 Rainbow Toned ~colorful Toning~fs-4011956 Franklin Half Dollar 50 Cents Type 2 Pcgs Pr68 Dcam1956 Silver Proof Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Proof 68!!! Type 21949-d Ngc Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Ngc Ms 64 Fbl ** Free Shipping1956 Pcgs Pr67 Type 2 Franklin Half Dollar Silver 50c