1951-S Franklin Half Dollar

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Franklin Half Dollar
1948–1963


The Franklin Half Dollar was designed to honor Benjamin Franklin: a Founding Father and intellectual with many titles including writer, inventor, diplomat, and political theorist among others. The Franklin Half Dollar replaced the Walking Liberty Half Dollar and was minted for only sixteen years. It was succeeded by the Kennedy Half Dollar, which memorialized president John F. Kennedy after his assassination.

The Franklin Half Dollar was originally designed by John Sinnock, the eighth Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint. Unfortunately, Sinnock passed away before completing his design, so his assistant, Gilroy Roberts, finalized the design. The finalized design was subject to minor controversy, receiving overall mixed reviews. The first concern was over the tiny eagle placed on the reverse. The second was due to the inclusion of Sinnock’s initials, JRS, on the obverse, which some people thought stood for Joseph Stalin. – Remember we were just 3 years removed from the end of WWII.

The obverse of the Franklin Half Dollar features the bust of Benjamin Franklin, facing right. His hair is shoulder length and flows in waves that were struck in great detail. Inscribed along the top rim of the coin is the word, “LIBERTY.” Curving along the bottom rim is the phrase, “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The mint date is also on the obverse, below Franklin’s chin.

In the center of the Franklin Half Dollar reverse, the Liberty Bell is depicted with its famous crack. In addition, a small eagle fills the empty space to the right of the bell. The eagle was added by Roberts due to a law that required every U.S. coin larger than a dime to feature an eagle. However, many criticized the eagle for looking like an afterthought in the design. Also on the reverse are three inscriptions — “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” curving along the top rim, “HALF DOLLAR” curving along the bottom rim, and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” in the empty space left of the Liberty Bell.

Franklin Half Dollars were minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. For the half dollars minted outside of Philadelphia, the mint mark can be found on the reverse above the Liberty Bell. While Franklin Half Dollars minted in Philadelphia had no mint mark, “D” represented the Denver Mint and “S” represented the San Francisco Mint. 

There were thirty-five different date and mint mark combinations across the series. While there are no true key dates, well-struck coins are sought after by numismatists. Particularly, if the horizontal lines on the Liberty Bell are visible and unbroken, the coin will be more desirable. Franklin Half Dollars with lines like these will be given the Full Bell Line (FBL) designation. Two key dates for FBL Franklins are 1953-S and 1963.

Specifications
Weight: 12.5 grams
Composition: 90% Silver (0.36169 troy oz), 10% copper
Diameter: 30.63 mm
Edge: Reeded
Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
 


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