US Coins

Market Analysis: 1953-S Franklin half dollar

At $33,600, a 1953-S Franklin half dollar graded PCGS MS-65 FBL was the top lot at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ June 17 offering of the John Stoebner collection of the series. A detail shows the fully defined horizontal lines of the Liberty Bell on the reverse.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

The Franklin half dollar series ran across three decades, starting in 1948 and ending in 1963. John R. Sinnock’s obverse design relies on a famed Franklin portrait bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon and the reverse, assisted by Gilroy Roberts, depicts the Liberty Bell.

Full strikes are elusive on a few key issues, including the 1953-S coin. One of these prized San Francisco Mint halves, graded Mint State 65 Full Bell Lines by Professional Coin Grading Service, realized $33,600 as the top lot at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ offerings of the John Stoebner Collection of Franklin Half Dollars, the all-time third finest set of “FBL Franklins” on the PCGS Set Registry. 

While the typical Uncirculated 1953-S half dollar is well-preserved, most show a mushy strike on the reverse. PCGS has graded just 50 Full Bell Lines examples of this issue in all grades, with only four finer on the PCGS Population Report.

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