A $20,000 Franklin Half Dollar? You Bet! Auction Ends Tonight.

By CoinWeek .....
 

On the evening of March 26, David Lawrence Rare Coins will sell a modern certified coin for a price approaching $20,000 USD. The coin is a Franklin half dollar - in Proof -that was issued two years into the production of the short-lived series. Franklin half dollars were minted between 1948-1963. Proofs were struck starting in 1950. The example being offered is a 1950 Franklin half dollar graded PR67+CAM by PCGS.

The Franklin half dollar is popular 20th-century coin series designed by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock. It was the last regularly circulating half dollar series and the last one to be struck entirely in .900 silver. The Franklin half dollar type was replaced by the Kennedy half dollar series in 1964.

How Rare Are They?

The United States Mint reintroduced the Proof Set in 1950, after an eight-year hiatus brought about by the intensification of the United States’ role in World War II. Demand for Proof Sets had grown tremendously since the modern Proof Set period began in 1936. That year, 3,837 sets were issued. When the last wartime issue set was released, more than 21,000 sets were ordered.

The first post-War set--the 1950--saw demand more than double, to a then-record mintage of 51,386. Of course, the coin collecting hobby was growing rapidly. By the end of the decade, the Mint would see demand in excess of a million sets.

Even as sales figures for recent-year Proof Sets have declined substantially since their peak period of the 1970s and '80s, the 1950 mintage is a fraction of modern demand for a contemporary set.

As the first Proof issue in the Franklin half dollar series, the 1950 set is consistently in high demand. Recent price trends for the complete 1950 Proof Set range from $350 to $500.

So why the enormous price difference?

Condition and Cameo Contrast

Cameos were produced on coinage of the period purely by chance. Early strikes on fresh dies might transfer the frosted cameo appearance onto the coin. Today’s Proof coins, by contrast, are produced using a method that uniformly imparts a deep cameo contrast.

On coins that were struck where cameos were less common, or rare, demand for the effect adds tremendous value.

Combine cameo or deep cameo contrast with conditionally rare PQ coins, and you've got the recipe for Franklin half dollar proofs that yield thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars.

How Many Are Certified?

Thirty years of grading have yielded some detail as to how many examples of the mintage are certified in high grade.

Of course, there are limits to the kinds of analysis that you can do with third-party grading census reports.

The services that provide these reports record each individual instance when a coin is graded by their service. They cannot track all resubmissions or instances when coins cross over from one service to the next. For modern coins, where hundreds or thousands of instances of grading have been reported, it is possible that dozens or even hundreds of coins per grade have been resubmitted.

With that caveat, PCGS accounts for a total of 4,201 Franklin half dollar proofs, with 3,830 grading Proof (a Proof coin with insufficient Cameo contrast), 362 grading Cameo (a Proof coin with present and easily identified cameo contrast covering all of the devices on the obverse and reverse of the coin), and a paltry nine in Deep Cameo (a Proof coin with exceptional and thick Cameo contrast covering all of the coin’s devices on the obverse and reverse).

The coin on offer by David Lawrence grades PR67+CAM, making it a population 3 coin in the designation with none higher.

The PCGS top population coin in Deep Cameo is PR66DCAM. Overall, the finest coin reported by PCGS is a sole example in PR68. That coin has light cameo contrast but misses PCGS’ criteria for the designation. This specimen brought $22,325 this January at Heritage’s FUN US Coins Signature Auction (Lot 5682)

On the NGC side, 3,580 1950 Proof Franklin half dollars have been graded: 3,074 Proof, 484 Proof Cameo, and 22 Proof Ultra Cameo (PCGS and NGC using different terminology to identify their most thickly cameo’ed Proof designation). NGC has graded just one 1950 Franklin PF67+CAM, with one higher, along with three non-Cameo qualifying coins in PF68 and two Ultra Cameo coins in PF67.

With such low populations of PCGS PR67+CAM 1950 Franklin half dollars, sales history relies on two publicly traded events when examples appeared for sale at Heritage Auctions. They were for the same coin: a lightly toned, CAC-approved PR67+CAM, Cert. #25535768. The coin brought $16,100 when it appeared at the April 2012 CSNS Platinum Night US Coins Signature Auction.

Three years later, the coin brought a little more than 10% above that, hammering at $18,800 with Buyer’s Premium.

The example that David Lawrence Rare Coins is offering will sell on Sunday night at 9:17pm. Current bid is $17,750, against an estimate just shy of $20,000.
 

2 Comments on "A $20,000 Franklin Half Dollar? You Bet! Auction Ends Tonight."

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  1. Ed E. Scot says:

    I remember back many years ago that there was a brief excitement over the 1958 Franklin relative to there being two distinct die varieties which I think may have been called the small eagle and large eagle. What ever became of that? Can’t find any info on this now.

  2. Nancy deitz says:

    I have a 1952 D how do you find out how much it’s worth, and a buyer please I need some info thank you

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