Franklin Half Dollars don't receive much respect and most think that if it wasn't for their 90% silver content they would not be that collectible. Such shouldn't be the case considering this series boast some low mintage figures by any standard, lower than a few of its contemporaries.
Franklin Halves where minted from 1949-1963 and replaced by the Kennedy Half Dollar in 1964. The coins where just not popular and too far removed from the character and time, of Franklin himself, to bring much interest in this coin series. A full set of Franklin halves consists of 35 different business strikes and 14 different proofs so it's an easy set to fill if you don't care about grade or strike.
Collectors hoarded mint state examples in rolls and bags because of their silver content, so there's a lot available in mint state despite some low mintages. The kicker in this aforementioned fact is that many Franklin Halves did circulate, and many others where melted, so where does this leave collectors? In a great spot, really, since we can only assume how many of the original mintages still exists, there's just too many circumstances behind the years of collecting, spending, loosing and melting to gain appreciable figures.
Based on threse facts it's safe to say that Franklin Halves are much rarer than their mintages reveal, and even more rare than mere hoarding could allow. We can dedcuce that the total mintages, of all years and mints, is a total 465,814,455 for business strikes and 15,886,955 proof issues, so how many still exists? We might never know, but it's most certainly less than than the 481,170,410 of the total mintages.
Then we take into account of how much of this mintage figure is impaired (cleaned, spotted or just damaged), plus how many circulated, how many have been lost from being dropped and how many where melted for their silver content. In addition, we can deduct the 1962-D, 1963 and 1963-D since these dates and mints share the bulk of the entire Franklin Half Dollar mintage total at 359 million plus, and this gives you roughly 122 million to choose from for all other dates and mints combined for the entire fourteen year run.
Also the dates and mints earlier than 1962 are much more rare in choice grades especially fully struck. Fully struck Franklin Halves are attributed as FBL (Full Bell Lines) and that refers to full lines on the bottom of the Liberty Bell and these lines should be complete across the entire bell. Contact marks can obscure some of the lines and small areas of the lines can have some weakness but can't be broke or flat. So you need to look for choice examples with the best strikes and this is where the money is.
As you can see the mintage figures are mostly concentrated in three seperate dates and mints, so Franklin Half Dollars are more rare than it first appears and choice struck examples are even more rare. Furthermore choice struck and high grade examples have the most potential of gaining in value.
Couple that with the fact that many collectors don't know what FBL means or don't want to pay the current premium for these choice coins, or just don't mind as long as they're filling holes in their collection, then you can see how a future increase in collectors knowledge on this subject can create more demand for these choice coins and in that their value will soar.
Ever since the inception of third party coin grading services and their use of FBL for Franklin Halves the value for these choice struck coins has increased. This trend should continue so now is the time to get in for the future. If you have doubts then take a look at the 1953-S FBL current values.
Designer: John R. Sinnock, the reverse adapted from a design by John Frederick Lewis
Diameter: 30 millimeters
Silver - 90%
Copper - 10%
Weight: 193 grains (12.5 grams)
Mint mark: None (for Philadelphia, PA) centered above the bell on the reverse