Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Franklin Half dollars: value alert

Franklin half dollars have value, as each coin is 90% silver and contains about one-third of an ounce of the precious metal. Now in 2015 the youngest Franklin halves struck in 1963, the last year of the series, are over fifty years old.

The Franklin half dollar, which was struck for 16 years (1948 - 1963, following the Walking Liberty half dollar and preceding the John F. Kennedy half dollar), has the shortest duration of any modern series, and began almost exactly one century after the start of production of the tiniest US coins, the one dollar gold coins that were struck beginning in 1849. Proof Franklin halves were not struck in the first two years of the series (as no proof coins at all were struck by the US Mint during the years 1943 - 1949), so the Franklin half proofs span the period 1950 - 1963. In the proof run, the earliest dates have the highest value, so the 1950 is the most valuable, followed by the 1951, and so on down the line until prices equalize for the 1962 - 1963 issues that both have the same or close to the same value.

Although he was never president, Ben Franklin did have a large role in the early history of the USA, signed the Declaration of Independence, and made many contributions to society during his life.

Due to its relatively short duration, even filled with branch mint issues the first half of the series and Denver issues almost continuously throughout (except 1955 - 1956), the Franklin half dollar series at 35 coins (regular strikes) is more reasonable to complete than many other series. Even in low to mid-range uncirculated and proof that is still true, as the value of no single coin in the set is overly prohibitive for the vast majority of people.

As is true for coins generally, if you want to buy a part of this beautiful series, you should get the highest quality Franklin half dollars that you can. The very best examples are those on which "Full Bell Lines" can be seen on the Liberty Bell on the reverse, and they are often designated "FBL". Those FBL coins have a higher value (in some cases a much higher value) and are very sought after.

There are many companies that grade coins professionally and place them into sealed "slab" plastic holders, and the three most widely accepted coin grading companies are NGC, PCGS, and ANACS.

The key dates in the Franklin half series are the 1949 coins from all three mints Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco, although the latter two branch mint issues are the top two. Those three dates also are among those with the highest value in FBL, along with the 1953-S that has the highest value in the entire Franklin half series in FBL.

Whether it's Franklin halves or any other series of rare US coins, discovering you have degrading coins can be frustrating, yet depending on the exact specifics, it might be possible that Numismatic Conservation Services NCS can recover them.

For anyone that would like to buy a single example in mint state or proof, a 1962 or 1963 in mint state 65 or proof 67 Franklin half dollar should be able to be obtained for less than $50.

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