US Coins

Whitman releases new Franklin and Kennedy half dollar guide

“A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars, Fourth Edition” by Rick Tomaska, is now available.

Image courtesy of Whitman Publishing.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first minting of the Franklin half dollar, Whitman Publishing offers an updated new edition of A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars. The 248-page fourth edition, written by professional numismatist Rick Tomaska, is available online and from booksellers and hobby shops nationwide.

The Franklin half dollar (minted from 1948 through 1963) and the Kennedy half dollar (minted from 1964 to date) are two of the most popular series in modern U.S. coinage.

“Whether you’re a collector spending $50 a month or an investor with a budget of $50,000, there are challenges and rewards to enjoy with these historic coins,” says author Rick Tomaska.

In addition to sharing behind-the-scenes knowledge of the retail and auction markets, Tomaska gives the history of the coins’ designs, production, and other technical and cultural aspects. He explores transitions in Mint craftsmanship and reveals why Franklin and Kennedy half dollars represent the end of an era.

Tomaska studies the coins date by date, with commentary on exceptional and highly toned specimens, describes how Proof coins are made and graded, and teaches about Cameo and Deep Cameo contrast, Full Bell Lines, certified coin populations, and other factors important to value and rarity. Collectible die varieties, tips for smart buying, and hundreds of full color photographs round out the contents.

The fourth edition includes new research on 1964 Specimen Kennedy half dollars, information on the NGC Rick Tomaska Signature Series designation, new coin photographs, and more. Values in multiple grades were updated for each coin. Auction data and recent retail sale records are also given.

Tomaska covers the 1964–2014 fiftieth-anniversary gold and silver Kennedy half dollars and features illustrated appendices on “Exceptional Cameo Contrast” and remarkable error and misstruck Franklin and Kennedy halves.

An illustrated chapter on Proof Walking Liberty half dollars, which Tomaska describes as “true classics born during the wonderful Renaissance era in American coin design,” explores these precursors to the Proof coins of the Franklin series.

Tomaska, a longtime contributor to the Guide Book of United States Coins (“Red Book”), started his business, R & I Coins, in 1981, and has since written several books focusing on modern cameo and brilliant Proof coinage and Franklin half dollars. In 2014, he was a founding member of Rare Collectibles TV. With more than 40 years of experience, Tomaska enjoys sharing his knowledge. Numismatic historian Q. David Bowers, writing in the foreword, says, “By reading this book you can become an expert on these widely collected coins.”

Four of the coins used for the cover of the book were scheduled to be offered in a live auction on Rare Collectibles TV on Sept. 21.

Offered were a 1957-D Franklin half dollar graded by Numismatic Guaranty Co. as  Mint State 67 with a Star designation and identified as having  full bell lines; a 1960 Franklin half dollar graded by NGC as Proof 69 Ultra Cameo; a 1967 Special Mint Set Kennedy half dollar, cataloged by Tomaska as T-70 and graded by NGC as MS-68 Ultra Cameo; and a 1970-D Kennedy half dollar, graded by NGC as MS-67. The 1964 Kennedy half dollar was previously sold by Rare Collectibles TV for more than $100,000.

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