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U.S. Franklin Half Dollar 1948 - 1963
After seeing a 1932 U.S. Mint medal prepared in Franklin's honor by John R. Sinnock,
Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross had contemplated a coin honoring Benjamin Franklin.
John R. Sinnock was the Mint's chief sculptor-engraver.
Demands made by World War II forced postponement of production changes, non-the-less,
Ross (still enthusiasm for the project) directed Sinnock to design a Franklin coin on a contingency basis.
The federal Commission of Fine Arts (an advisory body) made several objections, first
the objected to the eagle's size, they also disapproved of showing the crack in the
Liberty Bell. They argued that "to show this might lead to puns and to statements
derogatory to United States coinage.": the Treasury Department approved Sinnock's
models without change. When the Franklin half dollar made its debut it completed the
conversion of U.S. coin designs from allegorical figures (Lady Liberty) to portraits
of famous Americans.
The Liberty Bell on the reverse of the Franklin Half Dollar made sense. Both were
closely identified with the nation's birth and with the city of Philadelphia.
Designer: John R. Sinnock
Weight: 12.5 grams
Diameter: 30 millimeters
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Mint Mark Legend: Centered above the bell on the reverse.
Franklin Half Dollar
1948 - 1963
There are only four features on the Franklin Half Dollar: most prominent is the
portrait of Franklin with "LIBERTY" at twelve o'clock, "IN GOD WE TRUST" at six
o'clock and the date near Franklins chin.
The Liberty Bell is centered of the reverse, and "UNITED STATES oF AMERICA" at
twelve o'clock and HALF DOLLAR, in slightly larger text, at six o'clock. The phrase
"E PLURIBUS UNUM" is to the left of the bell, and a small eagle is to right. The
eagle, with wings partially outstretched, sits on a perch. Mintmarks are located
above the wood beam holding the bell.
There were other objections also, the designers initials (JRS John R. Sinnock)
some said stood for Joseph Stalin, the obvious presentation of the crack in the Liberty
Bell, and later because of the small o in "UNITED STATES oF AMERICA" rumored to be
an error, but was never changed.
Although Franklin half dollar mintages were modest by modern-day standards, the
series contains no issues that are particularly rare. The production low point came
in 1953, when the Philadelphia Mint struck just under 2.8 million examples; the
peak occurred in 1963, when the Denver Mint made just over 67 million. Franklin halves
also were minted in San Francisco. On branch-mint issues, the D or S mintmark appears
above the bell on the reverse. Total mintage for the series, including proofs, was
almost 498 million coins.
A full set of Franklin halves consists of 35 different business strikes and 14 different
proofs. Because it is so compact and easily affordable in less-than-pristine grades,
the series is widely collected by date and mint.
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U.S. Franklin Half Dollars