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Surviving supply of 1960 halves is limited

 An initial lack of interest, combined with a rush to cash in silver coins for a high melt price, has left a limited supply of the 1960 Franklin half dollar. (Image courtesy

An initial lack of interest, combined with a rush to cash in silver coins for a high melt price, has left a limited supply of the 1960 Franklin half dollar. (Image courtesy

The 1960 Franklin half dollar should be getting more serious attention. It may eventually prove to be one of those coins that surprises everyone with its high price. With a current value of $340 for an MS-65 example with full bell lines, it certainly is already well on its way.

The year 1960 brought to a close what had been a truly great period for coins and coin collecting. The 1950s had seen a flood of new collectors, and bank employees at the time must have thought kids had nothing to do except check cent rolls. A fair number of adults had also joined in the fun because you could find great coins in everyday change.

Few, however, would have paid any attention to the 1960 Franklin half when it was released. There were still many good coins to be found in circulation, and a new, uncirculated Franklin would not have seemed very promising, even if it did have a lower mintage.

In fact, Franklin half dollars as a group did not seem very promising back in 1960. Although some had mintages of just under three million pieces, similar to the 1950-D Jefferson nickel, you could find the lower-mintage Franklin halves in circulation, but not the 1950-D nickel. (Over time, that logic has proven to be flawed. Any number of Franklin halves have gone up in price, while the 1950-D nickel has moved very little.)

That somewhat flawed logic would have seen nothing especially promising about the 1960 half dollar. It had a mintage of 7,715,602, along with another 1,691,602 proofs. Even combined, however, the total for 1960 was safely under 10 million pieces. Within a few years, mintages of 10 million ended for virtually every denomination except the half dollar.

A significant number of 1960 Franklin half dollars were plucked from circulation in the mid-1960s when the government removed silver from its coins Most of America felt it was a good idea to save the older silver coins. The dates did not really matter, just the silver.

What goes around comes around, and eventually all those 1960 Franklin half dollars were being sold for the same reason they had been saved. Silver soared to $50 an ounce by early 1980, and there was a long period where the 1960 Franklin half dollar, and most other silver dates from the period, were much more valuable as silver than they would ever be as coins for collectors.

Even proof sets purchased at $2.10 were easily broken up for the 1960 half dollar, quarter and dime. The numbers of 1960 Franklin halves destroyed is impossible to know, but it was massive, since virtually all Franklin half dollars at the time were silver.

What remains for collectors today are the 1960 Franklin half dollars that managed to escape the melting pot, the survivors of what was already a relatively low-mintage year. At long last, at least in some grades, they seem unlikely to be melted even if silver soars again.

While the 1960 half is not especially valuable in MS-60 condition, listing at just $14, an MS-65 example lists for $72. That price is amazing to many who remember when it was considered a junk silver coin. Clearly not many surviving examples were MS-65, given that $340 value for one with full bells lines.

How many truly valuable 1960 Franklin half dollars were lost is anyone’s guess. Today, we are left with a limited supply that likely will not hold up if there is any increase in demand.

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

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2018 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.