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    

1950-p Ngc Pf 66 Proof Franklin Half Dollar!!1950 Proof Franklin Half Dollar- Pcgs Pr65- Original Rattler HolderUltra, Ultra, Ultra Rare!!! 1950 Proof Franklin Set, Comes With Ogp!! Wowzer!!1951-p Ngc Pf 65 Proof Franklin Half Dollar!!1956-p Ngc Pf 67 Proof Franklin Half Dollar Type 1!!25 Franklin Silver Half Dollars1953 Franklin Half Dollar Proof, Deep Mirrors, ** Free Shipping!1948-d Franklin Half Anacs Ms65fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~Set 1955-1963 Franklin Halves Half Dollar Set Pf68 All Ngc Slabbed Rare Hi-gradeComplete Set Silver Franklin Halves Some Bu Coins1958 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf68 Monster Face Melter!1949-s Ngc Ms 64 Franklin Half Dollar!!1948-1963 P/d/s Franklin Half Dollar Complete Set W/ Bu Coins1956 - 1962 Franklin Half Dollar Proof All Ngc Pf67 - A Truly Beautiful Set!!1957 Proof Franklin Half Dollar; Silver; Ngc Graded Pf67*(star); L@@k!!!1963 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Pr69 Flashy!!!Lot (5) Uncirculated Franklin Half Dollars 1948 D 49 1950 D 1951 D, S Silver 50cPair Of 1963 D Pcgs Ms64 Colorful Eor Toned Franklin Half Dollars1957 Pcgs Ms66+ Gem Original Colorful Toned Franklin Half DollarComplete Franklin Silver Half Set.. 1948-1963 Pds.. Ch/gem BuFranklin Half Dollar Set 1948-1963 ~ 35 Coins ~ Complete SetFranklin Half Dollar Set 1948 To 1961 (30 Coins Total) Buy It Now1953-s Ngc Ms 66 Franklin Half Dollar!!1952-s Ngc Ms 64 Franklin Half Dollar!!1962 50c Franklin Proof Silver Half Dollar Pcgs Pr68 Dcam **deep Cameo**Ngc-proof 67 1956 Type 1 Reverse Franklin Half Dollar - Free Shipping1953-p Ngc Pf 65 Cam Proof Cameo Franklin Half Dollar!!1955 Proof Franklin Half Dollar; Silver: Pcgs Graded Pf67cameo; Very Scarce!!1956 Proof Set Type 1 Franklin Tone & Spot Free ! Tough White Pr Type One Half1950 Benjamin Franklin Silver Half Dollar: Proof Pr Pf Details1953 S Silver Franklin Half Dollar Ngc Ms65+ **tough Date**Uncirculated 1953-s Franklin Silver half Dollar Free Shipping!  Uncirculated 1950 Philadelphia Mint Silver Franklin Half Free S/hOriginal Roll 1952-s Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1951 Franklin Half Dollar, Pq Solid Gem Pf, Low Pf Mintage, ** Free Shipping!1963 50c Franklin Proof Silver Half Dollar Pcgs Pr68+ Cameo1958-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms66fbl Cac Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~ Uncirculated 1949-s Franklin Silver half Dollar Free Shipping! Estate Find 1949-s Franklin Half Dollar!!1958 Franklin Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms 66 Fl1948-d Franklin Half Ngc Ms65 Rainbow Mint Set Toned ~colorful Toning~ Old Slab(3) Nice Silver 1956, 1959d & 1960 Franklin 50c Half Dollars Uncirculated 1951-s Franklin Silver half Dollar Free Shipping!  1 Original Roll Of Bu 1962 D Franklin Half Dollars; 90% Silver; $10 Fv; BullionRoll Of 20 1962 Ben Franklin Half Dollars Gem - Bu Condition1951 Franklin Silver Half Dollar Pf 64 Ngc1950 D Denver Franklin Silver Half Dollar Ms65 Fbl Anacs - Toning1957 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Ngc Pf67* Wow!1952-s Franklin 50 Cents Pcgs Ms65Washington Quarter Set 1932 To 1959 (71 Coins Total) Buy It Now1957-d Ngc Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Ngc Ms 65 Fbl ** Free ShippingFull Set 1957-1963 90% Silver Proof Franklin Half Dollars! 7 Total Coins!1949 S Uncirculated 90% Silver Franklin Half Dollar Certified Ngc Ms 65 TonedUncirculated 1950 Franklin Silver half Dollar Free Shipping!1953 Ch Bu Franklin Half Dollar Silver Coin 100% Flashy Lustrous From Roll #2 NrBrilliant Uncirculated 1955 "bugs Bunny" Franklin Half Dollar1955 Franklin 50 Cents -full Bell Line- Outstanding UncirculatedUncirculated 1952-d Franklin Silver half Dollar Free Shipping!  Lot Of 100 Franklin 90% Silver Half Dollars - $50 Face Value - CirculatedFranklin Half Dollar Set 1948-1963 ~ 35 Coins ~ Complete Set Silver!