US Coins

Toning brings out best in high-grade Franklin half

Stack’s Bowers Galleries hosted the official auctions of the Whitman Expo in Baltimore, Nov. 3 to 6. Among the standouts were several high grade 20th century silver coins with beautiful rainbow toning.

A coin that has magnificent rich color can sell for many multiples of what a similarly graded untoned coin might bring. Collectors especially covet deep, rich jewel tones that lend an almost cloisonne effect to a coin’s surface. The presence of gorgeous color can give an otherwise common coin a “wow factor” that collectors will happily open their wallets for.

Here is one of three toned silver coins we're profiling in this week's Market Analysis. 

The Lot: 

1954 Franklin Half Dollar, PCGS Mint State 67 Full Bell Lines

The Price:


The Story:

While many debate the attractiveness of John R. Sinnock’s Franklin half dollar, the design is perhaps showcased at its most effective on richly toned examples. At the Stack’s Bowers Nov. 3 Rarities Night Auction in Baltimore, the firm sold a 1954 Franklin half dollar graded Mint State 67 full bell lines by Professional Coin Grading Service for $14,100.

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It was distinguished by target toning on both sides. As the description observed, “On the obverse a halo of steel-blue and reddish-orange surrounds an olive-gold center. For the reverse we note powder blue, salmon pink and antique gold shades around a pearl gray center.”

Franklin half dollarFranklin half dollar: The Benjamin Franklin half dollar is a series that may ring your bell. Produced from 1948 through 1963, the Franklin half dollar features the Liberty Bell on the reverse. Although it complies with laws that dictate an eagle must appear on the coin, the small eagle to the side of the Liberty Bell almost appears to be an afterthought. How much are Franklin half dollars worth?

Many Franklin half dollars are rare in high grades, especially with fully struck bell lines on the reverse’s Liberty Bell. Although the 1954 Franklin half dollar is common in circulated grades and through MS-65, it becomes tough in MS-66 and is rare in MS-67, with PCGS grading just three MS-67 full bell line examples.

Keep reading this Market Analysis of toned silver coins:

Toned Roosevelt dimeVivid rainbow toning gives high-mintage 1955-S Roosevelt dime a significant price bump: With a mintage of 18,510,000, the issue is common, and even in MS-67 certified examples sell for $50 or so. This one sold for more than $1,600.

Toned Stone Mountain half dollarWhy this MS-66 Stone Mountain half dollar brought 10 times the typical price: A typical example certified MS-66 by PCGS or Numismatic Guaranty Corp. might sell for $250 to $300 at auction. This one sold for more than $3,000.

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