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CAC offers Franklin half resource

Collectors of Franklin half dollars have free access to a new resource now being offered by the Certified Acceptance Corp.

The company recently acquired an advanced reference set of Franklin halves to enhance its recognition of full-bell-lines specimens – and it’s sharing the knowledge it gleaned from the set by posting detailed photographs of the coins on its Web site.

“We felt that this would be a useful educational tool for collectors,” said John Albanese, founder and president of the New Jersey-based company.

“It’s also a good way for people to learn more about CAC,” Albanese added. “When people ask what it is we’re looking for when we decide whether Franklin half dollars have full bell lines, we can tell them to check our Web site and see the kinds of things that keep a coin from being stickered.”

Full-bell-lines halves, known by the acronym “FBL” for short, are coins on which there is full separation between the bottom two lines on the Liberty Bell. Specialists prize such coins because full bell lines denote sharp strike, much like a full head on a Standing Liberty quarter, full split bands on a “Mercury” dime, or full steps on a Jefferson nickel. Typically, these pieces command substantial premiums over coins in the same grade without this designation.

A new section of the CAC Web site has photos of more than a dozen Franklin halves – some of which meet the company’s criteria for FBL designation and others that don’t. The sharp, enlarged photos are accompanied by text explaining why the coins do or don’t qualify.

CAC purchased the reference set from Greg Lewis, a Chicago-area collector who has been studying and acquiring high-grade Franklin halves for more than two decades and is considered a leading authority on FBL specimens. Lewis also provided the company with grading insights drawn from his research on the subject and served as a consultant in the preparation of the Web site information.

“Greg Lewis has done CAC a great service by enlightening us on these pertinent details,” Albanese said.

Lewis said he welcomed the opportunity to participate in the project.

“There are many misconceptions about what makes a coin full-bell-line and quite a few Franklin halves that have been certified as FBL but really aren’t,” he said. “By posting these photos on its Web site, CAC has given collectors a place to turn for guidance.”

Lewis has several hundred FBL Franklin halves in his collection, including all but two date-and-mint combinations – the 1953-S, which he described as the key coin of the FBL series, and the 1963-P, which he called the No. 1 sleeper.

CAC experts examine coins previously certified by either the Professional Coin Grading Service or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America. CAC then affixes a distinctive green sticker to the holder of each coin which, in its judgment, is at minimum “solid for the grade.” Each sticker incorporates a tamper-resistant hologram.

CAC, which began operations late last year, has more than 200 dealer members, Albanese said. Members are authorized to serve as CAC Submission Centers, accepting coins submitted for the firm’s evaluation.

Further information about the company, as well as the posting on FBL half dollars, can be found at the Web site, www.caccoin.com.

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