Designed by: John R. Sinnock
Issued Date: 1948-1963
Composition: 0.900 parts silver, 0.100-part copper
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Weight: 192.9 grains
Total Business strike mintage: 465,814,455
Total Proof strike mintage: 15,886,955
In 1948 John R. Sinnock, chief engraver of the Philadelphia Mint, produced a new design for the half dollar to replace the Liberty Walking motif which had been in use since 1916. The Franklin half dollar depicts a head and shoulders portrait of Franklin on the obverse, facing right, with LIBERTY above and IN GOD WE TRUST below. The date is to the right. The reverse shows the Liberty Bell with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above and HALF DOLLAR below. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left while a small eagle is to the right. At the time of issue, many criticized the design, perhaps because it is rather plain in comparison to the classic Liberty Walking style. In recent years, however, Franklin half dollars have emerged as popular pieces and today they are highly desired by numismatists.
When Sinnock died in 1947, Gilroy Roberts added a small eagle beside the Liberty Bell because the coinage act of 1873 required that an eagle be placed on all Half-Dollars struck after 1873. With this small oversight corrected, production commenced in 1948. Also, due to the large size of the Franklin Half-Dollar and its shallow relief these coins were very susceptible to bagmarks and abrasions. Compounding these problems was the fact that the Liberty Bell was extremely difficult to fully strike up, particularly the name Pass and Stow, as well as the horizontal lines at the bottom of the bell. While the 1949-S issue is the recognized key to the series, many collectors are now concentrating on finding Franklin Half-Dollars proofs which exhibit cameo contrast between the fields and design devices. Despite proof mintages running into the millions, these Cameo Proofs are scarce and in great demand.
The type set collector can easily obtain a business strike in any desired grade from Very Fine to superb Uncirculated, although sharply struck Uncirculated pieces showing full bell lines on the reverse and other minutely detailed areas are elusive for some issues. Proofs were minted from 1950 through 1964 and are available in proportion to their original production quantities.