By CoinWeek ….
In just two days, bidding ends Sunday, August 4 on GreatCollections.com for this 1948-D Franklin half dollar, graded MS67 FBL by NGC.
1948 was the first year of issue for the Franklin half dollar, and 4,028,600 of the coins were struck at the Denver Mint. But while it’s not a minuscule mintage, the 1948-D can still present some challenge to collectors – especially as a condition rarity.
NGC reports a grand total of two examples certified MS-67 with the prized “Full Lines (Full Bell Lines)” designation, with none higher. Interestingly, there is only one specimen listed at NGC MS-67 without full lines, with none higher there as well. Unfortunately, there are no auction records for NGC-graded MS-67 Full Lines Franklin half dollars, but a look at PCGS-certified examples provides a handful of recent prices realized that may illuminate the current market for this grade.
In February of last year, a PCGS specimen sold for $8,400 USD. In 2017, one piece sold for $7,403 in June and another went for $5,875 in January. February of 2016 saw a price of $9,400, and 2015 brought an even higher result, with a coin going for $12,925 in July.
(Incidentally, there are eight coins in the PCGS top pop of MS-67 FBL for the 1948-D half.)
To check GreatCollections for their sales involving Franklin half dollars, search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.
At the time of publication, the starting price for this Full Lines MS-67 1948-D Franklin half dollar is $6,750.
An Underappreciated Modern Classic
The 15-year run of Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock’s Franklin half dollar was bookended by events that unfortunately led to the public’s neglect of the unassuming modern coin. When it came out in 1948, the Franklin half had the misfortune of following the classic Walking Liberty half dollar (1916-47), a design beloved of coin collectors and bullion investors alike. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 meant that the country longed for a way to commemorate the popular young politician, and Congress and the United States Mint worked rapidly to do so, leading to the Kennedy half dollar replacing the Franklin type in 1964.
Nevertheless, and much deservedly, the Franklin half has reached its own audience within the numismatic community over time. Consisting of 90% silver, it is a series collected in a number of ways. In higher Mint State grades, the fields are clean and the coin is attractive overall. But what really gets a Franklin collector going is a quality of strike known as “Full Lines” or “Full Bell Lines”.
Full Bell Lines
The reverse of the Franklin half dollar features a large rendition of the iconic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, replete with the crack that, contrary to assumption, didn’t occur until about 80 to 90 years after it was cast. There is also a superfluous looking mini-eagle, placed there by law, but it does not figure into the idea of “Full Bell Lines”.
What the term refers to is the sharpness and clarity of the lines along the rim of the bell. If the lines on the bell are completely struck and apparent–and not interrupted by dings or marks on the coin’s surface–then a Franklin half dollar is eligible for the much-sought-after designation.