US Coins

Quality is key for Franklin half dollars

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 Heritage auction.

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. ¦

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