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1955 Franklin Half Dollar

 (Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

(Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

It is hard to be certain whether the 1955 Franklin half dollar should be basically where it is in price or whether it should be significantly better as there are so many factors to be considered and in some cases, they are hard to judge.

It started with a very unusual year. Probably as much as any year in the last half of the 20th century 1955 has a well-deserved reputation for being a year of low mintages and better dates. The dime totals from 1955 represent three of the four lowest mintage Roosevelt dimes while the 1955-S Lincoln cent was the lowest mintage Lincoln cent since the 1930s and the 1955-D quarter barely topped 3 million with the 1955 Jefferson nickel also being low mintage.

There was an additional factor in the year as it was to be the final year for coin production at the historic San Francisco facility. That excited everyone, but especially Lincoln cent collectors as San Francisco had a long reputation for producing low mintage Lincoln cents.

Just to make the year really special there was the 1955 doubled die obverse Lincoln cent which caused a national frenzy of change checking as everyone hoped to be the next lucky person to hit the jackpot with a 1955 double die obverse which even today ranks as perhaps the most popular error in the history of U.S. coins.

(Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

(Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

Under the circumstances, it was not easy for any coin to get much attention back in 1955. That was probably as true about the 1955 Franklin half dollar as it was about any other coin produced in that exciting year.

The 1955 would have been lesser-known under any circumstances but in 1955 being produced in Philadelphia and with so much interest in other denominations the 1955 was probably more prone to being overlooked than normal.

It was not just that the 1955 was not produced in San Francisco, which would have resulted in limited attention, but also there was the fact that it was a half dollar. It was not a case of no one collecting the Franklin half dollars at the time. There had to be someone collecting Franklins but there were not many. The Franklin half dollar had two problems. The first is that it was relatively new and the second was that it was an upper denomination and both would have worked against it at the time as back in 1955 if you checked your change you could find plenty of good dates from almost any denomination. Saving new Franklin half dollars would have simply seemed like a waste of money for most.

The one thing the 1955 Franklin half dollar had which might have caused some interest was its mintage of just under 2.9 million, which made it the lowest mintage Franklin half dollar and back in 1950 the 1950-D was a sensation because it was the lowest mintage Jefferson nickel. In 1955, however, that information did not have the same impact for the 1955 Franklin half dollar.

The reasons why the 1950-D nickel went crazy in terms of price movements and the 1955 Franklin half dollar did not were the number of other interesting coins in 1955 as opposed to 1950 and the fact that the half dollar was a higher denomination. The 1955 was basically overlooked by many and the 1950-D nickel was overlooked by no one.

It is a bit confusing picture probably made even more uncertain by the fact that the 1955 might very well have been destroyed in some numbers when the price of silver moved near $50 per ounce. The 1955 Franklin half dollar would not have been the first coin sold for its silver value simply because of its low mintage, but it could well have been destroyed and melted in some numbers as its 2002 MS-60 price for example is low enough to send an example to be destroyed if silver is not even close to $50 as at even $30 an ounce silver a half dollar is likely to ring more than $7.50 in just its silver value.

The future for the 1955 may be as uncertain as the past. The low mintage certainly remains a major consideration as the 1955 will always be the lowest mintage Franklin half dollar. The question is just what the supply of the 1955 really is, especially in various Mint State grades. Right now, the trend seems to be mixed in price and that may well continue as some simply want a Mint State coin while others want the very best.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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