1961 Franklin Half Dollar: Accurate Grading Leads To Accurate Value

Franklin Half Dollar Overview

Very few coins have been minted in the history of the United States that did not feature Lady Liberty or a President. The Franklin Half Dollar is one of those scarce coins. First minted in 1948, the coin featured popular Founding Father Benjamin Franklin on the obverse.

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The design for the Franklin Half Dollar was created after Mint Director Nellie Ross called on engraver John Sinnock to create a half dollar that paid tribute to Benjamin Franklin. Sinnock sadly passed away before he was able to complete the entire design, leaving Gilroy Roberts to complete the design. Although Roberts completed the final designs, Sinnock is credited with creating the entire Franklin Half Dollar.

On the obverse, a bust of Benjamin Franklin is centered facing right. “LIBERTY” can be found above the bust, while “IN GOD WE TRUST” can be found below. The date the coin was minted is in the right field, just below Franklin’s chin.

The reverse is a little more crowded, with the main design of the famous liberty bell centered. To the left of the bell is the motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, and to the right is a small eagle. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “HALF DOLLAR” can be found centered above and below the bell respectively.

History of the 1961 Franklin Half Dollar

Relatively small amounts of Franklin Half Dollars were produced during the first 10 years of the series. Even after the first 10 years, the Philadelphia Mint was still producing less than the Denver mint.

The Philadelphia Mint reports that it minted 8,290,000 examples in 1961. This is significantly less than the 20 million that were minted at the Denver Mint that same year.

To know whether a coin was minted in Denver or Philadelphia, one would need to look on the reverse of the coin. If a “D” is present above the bell, then the coin was minted in Denver. If no mint mark is present, then the coin was minted in Philadelphia.

Each Franklin Half Dollar is composed of 90% silver and 10% copper. A diameter of 30.6 mm gives the coin a weight of 12.50 grams. Reeding is present on the edge of the coin.

1961 Half Dollar

Image Source Flickr user Kyle Van Horn

Grading The Franklin Half Dollar

Knowing the condition of your Franklin Half Dollar will greatly help in properly determining its’ value.

Coin collectors use a 70-point scale to help “grade” the coin on how well it has been preserved. 70 is considered a “perfect coin” while 4 is considered “incredibly worn”. Here are some basic rules to help you accurately grade your Franklin Half Dollar.

  • Very Fine 20 - Wear is present across the entire coin, but half of the lines on the Liberty Bell are visible. Luster is not present.

  • Extremely Fine 40 - Slight wear is present across the entire coin. Wear can be seen on the words and lines of the Liberty Bell. Some mint luster may be present.

  • Uncirculated 60 - Original surface that shows no wear, but some small light scratches from the minting process. Luster needs to be present and full.

  • Uncirculated 63 - Distracting contact marks present but the luster is full and bright. Strike may be slightly better than Uncirculated 60.

  • Uncirculated 65 - Very few contact marks and luster is excellent and unbroken. A very above average strike is present.

No grades below Very Fine 20 are given because any Franklin Half Dollar at or below VF20 is only worth silver value. Higher grade examples do exist but are normally very rare.

Excellent looking examples should be handled carefully and possibly sent into a third-party grading company for a proper grade and authentication.

Valuing the 1961 Franklin Half Dollar

Since the silver value is worth more than the collectible value for 1961 Franklin Half Dollars below Extremely Fine 40 condition, the value follows the current silver price.

At the time of this writing, the silver value for a 1961 Franklin Half Dollar is $7.60.

For higher grade examples, the prices tend to be highest in Uncirculated condition. Extremely Fine 40 examples are valued at $8.75. Uncirculated 60 examples of 1961 Franklin Half Dollars have a retail value of $9.00.

Higher grade Uncirculated 1961 Franklin Half Dollars see a price increase to $16 and $65 for MS-63 and MS-65 respectively.

PCGS

has graded nearly 1,400 examples in MS-65 condition, showing that many high-grade examples still exist.

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