For avid coin collectors, Junk Silver coins are truly incremental pieces that are needed to elevate their collection. For many, they're more affordable than rare or uncirculated coins and for that, are considered the building blocks of any notable collection. On the other hand, some view them as unworthy since they're only worth their bullion value. Common date coins like The Franklin Half Dollar can reach prices up to $3,000.
The Franklin half dollar is the perfect coin that embodies all our favorite things about Junk Silver Coins. These coins are among the best currencies to invest in when considering precious metals-based coins, they are also an excellent way to begin a collection of precious metals, thanks to their quality and legal status. In case of a financial emergency, they are still perfect trading instruments. That is why we compiled the most vital pieces of information about this historical piece.
In 1948, there was a significant change in the coinage with the first half dollar of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin making its debut. The coin was a shift from portraying allegorical figures on U.S. coin designs to featuring prominent Americans on them. It also lowered the curtain on the golden age of the American coinage. The Half-dollar Walking Liberty coin (last one struck in 1947) remained in circulation throughout the early 20th century and brought the Mercury dime, the Standing Liberty quarter, and the double eagle of Saint-Gaudens. The Franklin Half Dollar introduction was because Nellie Tayloe Ross, then U.S. Mint director, admired Benjamin Franklin and desired to see a coin representing him.
In 1947, Ms. Ross asked John Sinnock, the Mint's head engraver, to start working on designs for the coin. Unfortunately, Mr. Sinnock died. So, his replacement Gilroy Roberts finished the final design of the coin. Ross mentioned in a speech at the launch of the Franklin Half Dollar that people begged her to put Franklin's portrait on the center of a coin because he was so closely associated with the motto "A penny saved is twopence clear" (often misquoted as "A penny saved is a penny earned"). "I think that the fifty-cent, which are bigger and made of silver, are much more appropriate for creating an amazing impact," said Ross, justifying her preference for the half dollar.
- From 1948 to 1963, the Franklin Half Dollar silver bullion coins were considered as legal tender in the United States. Over these years, about 500 million of these coins were minted.
- John Sinnock had to put his middle initial on the Franklin half dollar to avoid the controversy that happened with the Roosevelt dime where his initials “JS” were mistakenly taken as “Joseph Stalin”. This was due to the intense emotions regarding WWII at that time.
The portrait profile of Benjamin Franklin appears on the coin's obverse. Franklin's face is shown with long, curly hair that is cut off at the shoulder. The word "Liberty" appears at the top of the coin, while the phrase "In God We Trust" is portrayed at the bottom with the year of minting.
The reverse of the Franklin half dollar however, features the Liberty Bell and American Eagle. The Liberty Bell was mocked at first because of the fracture in the bell. Not only that, but the small eagle was criticized as well in the initial response to the coin's design, but the U.S. Mint went ahead with the design anyway. Aside from the informative bell and eagle, the reverse has some expressions such as "E PLURIBUS UNUM, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and HALF DOLLAR." The Liberty Bell is beautifully detailed and intricately designed, and the coin's design makes it one of the most symbolic coins ever produced.
All in all, The Franklin Half Dollar is one highly sought-after piece by numismatics because of its historical significance and its tribute to one of the most prominent American figures of all time. Here’s to a coin that would elevate your collection any day of the year.