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    

1956 Type 1 50c Pcgs Pf 66 Franklin Half Dollar, Scarce Proof Silver, Sharp LookOriginal Roll 1955 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuComplete Set Of Bu Franklin Half Dollars Lightly Toned In Dansco Album 35 CoinsOriginal Roll 1949 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1948 - 1963 P D S Franklin Half Dollar Silver Set CirculatedLot Of (16) Franklin Silver Half Dollars 50c Coins 1948-1963 **no Reserve*Original Roll 1949-d Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu1951 Franklin Half Pcgs Pr66 Blast White Pf66 Light Cameo Rare!!Complete Set Franklin Silver Half Dollars Dansco Album 1955 Bugs Bunny1951 S Ch Bu Franklin Half Dollar Us Silver Halves Flashy Coin Frm Roll 1951s NrOriginal Roll 1953-s Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuOriginal Roll 1950-d Franklin Silver Halves..gem BuOriginal Roll 1951-d Franklin Silver Halves ..gem Bu1951 Proof Franklin Half, Pcgs Pr65, Excellent Quality David Kahn Rare CoinsRoll Mixed Franklin Half Dollars 20 Silver Coins. 90%1949-d Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines! ** Stunning Gem Fbl! ** Free S/h!1954-d Pcgs Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Pcgs Ms 65 Fbl ** Super Pq!7 Rolls Of 120 Franklin Style Half Dollars, Silver, Random Dates And Very WornComplete Set Of Bu Franklin Half Dollars Lightly Toned In Whitman Album 35 Coins1948-63 P,d,s, Franklin Half Dollar Complete Set "au-choice Bu" *$17.50 Face*1954 S Franklin Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms64fbl1949-s Ms63 Silver Franklin Half Dollar $85.00 List Pcgs1954 S Ch Bu Franklin Half Dollar Silver Halves Flashy Coin From Roll 1954s Nr1957 Gem Proof Franklin Half Dollar Blast White Silver Us .50 100% Original CoinSilver 1953 S Franklin Half Dollar Almost Uncirculated 90% Silver #7677 GlcwLot Of (20) 1948 D Franklin Half Dollars Uncirculated Silver Sharp 50c Full RollOriginal Roll 1953 Franklin Silver Halves ..gem BuOriginal Roll 1948-d Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem Bu35 Franklin Half Dollars Complete Book 1948-1963d Us Coins 90% Silver CollectionOriginal Roll 1962-d Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuRoll Of 20 1962p Proof 90% Silver Franklins $10 Face Uncirculated Bu Gems1950 Franklin Half Dollar Proof Silver Coin1957 50c (proof) Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Pr 65 Rattler Looks Cam/dcamLot/bulk: Five (5) 90% Silver Franklin Half Dollar Coins $2.50 Face Value Junk1951-s Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64fbl1955 50c Fl Franklin Half Dollar Ms64 Fbl1954-p Franklin Half Ngc Ms 65 Full Bell Lines (fbl)Uncirculated 1953-s San Francisco Mint Silver Franklin Half Free Shipping1961 Franklin 50 Cents Ngc Pf67 CameoBrilliant Uncirculated Bu Unc 1955 Fbl Franklin Half Dollar 50c Ccc Nr Auction!1958 50c (proof) Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Rattler Pr 65 Cameo Look1951-d Franklin Half Dollar, Full Bell Lines, Gem Bu++ Fbl ** Free Shipping!1951 Ngc Pr65 Franklin Half Dollar!! #fg1961 Heads/heads Original Bank Wrapped Franklin Half Dollar Roll UnopenedFranklin Silver Half Dollars, 1963, 20 In Number, (c20f-bg2)Pcgs Pr67dcam 1956 50c Type 2 Franklin Half Dollar (no Reserve) [e719]1949-s Franklin Half Dollar Silver Rare Us Coin1958-d Franklin Half Pcgs Ms65fbl Rainbow Mint Set Toned~colorful Toning~Lot/bulk: Five (5) 90% Silver Franklin Half Dollar Coins $2.50 Face Value Junk1952 Franklin Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 64 Fbl1949-d Franklin Silver Half Dollar Flashy Choice Uncirculated+ Full Bell Line1956 Gem Proof Franklin Half Dollar Blazing White Flashy Silver Us .50 Coin Nr1954 Franklin Silver Half Dollar Gem ProofUncirculated 1948 Philadelphia Mint Silver Franklin Half Free ShippingOriginal Roll 1949-s Franklin Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1958 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem ProofsU.s. Silver Lot: 19 - 90% Halves & Dollars And 2 - 40% Ike DollarsOriginal Roll 1961 Franklin Silver Halves.. Gem BuNgc Pf62 1951 Franklin Proof Half Dollar (446-002) 1953 Proof Franklin 90% Silver. Rare Proof Graded Pf-64 Ngc