A Brief History of the Franklin Half Dollar
The Franklin Half Dollar was introduced in 1948 as a replacement for the Walking Liberty Half Dollar, which had been in circulation since 1916. The coin features the portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of America's Founding Fathers and an important figure in the early history of the United States. The choice of Franklin for this coin was based on his significant contributions to the country's development, such as his roles in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, as well as his advancements in science, literature, and diplomacy.
Minted from 1948 to 1963, the Franklin Half Dollar was designed by John R. Sinnock, the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. The obverse of the coin features a right-facing portrait of Benjamin Franklin, while the reverse showcases an image of the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence. Above the Liberty Bell, a small eagle was added to satisfy the legal requirement that all half dollars depict an eagle in their design.
Benjamin Franklin: Founding Father and Face of the Franklin Half Dollar
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, was a man of many talents and accomplishments. Renowned for his contributions to science, diplomacy, and American independence, Franklin's legacy is immortalized on the Franklin Half Dollar, making it a valuable addition to any coin collection.
Early Life and Career
Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of 12, he apprenticed with his brother James, a printer, and soon began writing articles under a pseudonym. In 1723, Franklin moved to Philadelphia and started working in the printing trade. He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled writer and printer, eventually publishing the "Pennsylvania Gazette" and "Poor Richard's Almanack."
Apart from his successful printing career, Franklin was an avid scientist and inventor. His fascination with electricity led to the famous kite experiment, which demonstrated the electrical nature of lightning. Some of Franklin's other inventions and discoveries include:
- Franklin Stove: A more efficient and safer alternative to open fireplaces for heating homes.
- Lightning Rod: A device that protects buildings from lightning damage by conducting the electrical charge safely to the ground.
- Bifocal Glasses: Combining both nearsighted and farsighted lenses, these glasses made it easier for people with presbyopia to read and see distant objects.
Political Career and Contributions
Franklin played a crucial role in America's fight for independence. He was a member of the Continental Congress and contributed to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. As a skilled diplomat, Franklin negotiated the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War and secured American independence. He also helped draft the United States Constitution.
Legacy and the Franklin Half Dollar
Benjamin Franklin's life was marked by his incredible achievements in various fields, and his contributions to American independence and nation-building have left a lasting impact. To honor his legacy, the United States Mint introduced the Franklin Half Dollar in 1948. The coin features a portrait of Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse, representing the freedom he tirelessly championed.
Key Dates and Mint Marks
The Franklin Half Dollar series includes a number of key dates and mint marks that are particularly sought after by collectors due to their low mintage numbers or unique characteristics. Some of these notable coins include:
- 1948: The first year of issue, the 1948 Franklin Half Dollar is prized for its historical significance and its relatively low mintage numbers.
- 1949-S: The 1949-S Franklin Half Dollar from the San Francisco Mint boasts the lowest mintage of the series, making it a valuable addition to any collection.
- 1955: Due to its low mintage numbers and the fact that it is the only year in which the coins were struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints but not at the San Francisco Mint, the 1955 Franklin Half Dollar is a sought-after piece among collectors.
- 1961-D: Featuring the highest mintage of any Franklin Half Dollar, the 1961-D coin from the Denver Mint is an affordable and accessible option for collectors of all levels.
- 1962-1963: The final years of the series, the 1962 and 1963 Franklin Half Dollars are often desired by collectors looking to complete their sets.
Professional grading services like the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) provide third-party authentication and grading for coins, ensuring their authenticity and condition. Collectors often seek out coins that have been graded by these services for added confidence in their purchases.
Expand Your Collection with Franklin Half Dollars
Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting your numismatic journey, Franklin Half Dollars offer a captivating and accessible series to explore. With a rich history, stunning design, and a variety of key dates and mint marks to discover, these coins provide endless opportunities for learning and appreciation.
Browse our extensive selection of Franklin Half Dollars today and find the perfect pieces to enhance your collection. Experience the beauty and history of these remarkable coins firsthand, and celebrate the legacy of one of America's most influential Founding Fathers.