Franklin half dollars continue to generate enthusiasm and big
prices from collectors who are willing to pay to get the best.
The series has no key dates, but in grades of Mint State 65 and
finer, especially with full bell lines on the Liberty Bell on the
reverse, some rarities emerge.
At Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles’ Sept. 22 to
25 Pre-Long Beach auction, several superlative Franklin half dollars
from the former top-ranked Professional Coin Grading Service Registry
Franklin half dollar set brought big prices.
What was quite possibly the finest known 1951-S Franklin half
dollar graded PCGS MS-67 full bell lines, with magnificent rainbow
toning on both sides, sold for $20,700. PCGS has graded just one other
in this grade, which has less toning and sold for $30,550 at an April
25 Heritage auction.
A PCGS MS-67 full bell lines 1950 half dollar with a green
Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker (one of just six graded as such by
PCGS) brought $16,100. For comparison, PCGS has graded six in MS-66+
full bell lines, an example of which brought $3,525 at an October 2012
The 1953-S Franklin half dollar is perhaps the rarest coin with
full bell lines. One graded PCGS MS-65 full bell lines sold for
$17,250. Although the San Francisco Mint struck 4.1 million halves
that year, very few were fully struck. PCGS’s current population
reports show just one finer example in MS-66 full bell lines.
A coin in this grade last traded at an Aug. 9, 2001, Heritage
auction at $35,075 and earlier that year the same coin brought an
astounding $69,000 at Bowers & Merena’s January Rarities Sale.
Among the most beautiful of the offered half dollars was a PCGS
MS-66+ full bell lines 1954 coin with rainbow toning on both sides, of
which PCGS has recorded four submissions at this grade level and just
one finer. It brought $5,750. Another handsomely toned piece was a
1958-D half dollar in MS-67 full bell lines with a green CAC sticker.
Tied for the finest known at PCGS with 34 other pieces, it brought $1,955.
Lest one think that the market for these is predictable, of the 24
Franklin half dollars offered at the Goldbergs’ sale, 11 failed to
meet their reserve and were reported as unsold on Sept. 24. Statistics
like that help reiterate the fact that when it comes to coins that are
conditionally rare, pricing can be challenging. ■