Franklin Half Dollar Reference Set

September 24, 2008

CAC would like to thank Mr. Greg Lewis for his time and generosity in providing us with the necessary grading sets and technical information on Franklin Half Dollars.  Mr. Lewis, who has devoted much time and energy to the study of the Full Bell Line, has done CAC a great service by enlightening us to these pertinent details.

This reference set applies the FBL (Full Bell Lines) Standard most commonly employed by experienced Franklin collectors: Full separation of the bottom two lines on the Liberty Bell. No major disturbances of these two lines including cuts, marks, planchet imperfections, or striking deficiencies are allowed if they obfuscate the “valley” that separates the two lines.

The coins in this Reference Set can be generally divided into three groups:

1. Non-FBL. Coins 1-5
2. Near-FBL Coins. Coins 6-10
3. FBL. Coins 11-14

REFERENCE SET:

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Non-FBL Coin 1

1961

Obvious Non-FBL.


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Non-FBL Coin 2

1960-D

Two items remove this coin from FBL:

A) The weakness of the BL’s immediately to the right side of the crack in the Liberty Bell is enough alone to preclude the designation.

B) Additionally, the series of three parallel planchet cuts to the left of the crack bolster the negation.

Note: Either of these two conditions alone would preclude the designation.


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Non-FBL Coin 3

1958-D

BL’s incomplete on the right side of the crack.


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Non-FBL Coin 4

1957

Interruption {whether contact mark or striking deficiency} of BL’s – right of crack.


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Non-FBL Coin 5

1958-D

Small contact mark at far left of crack and “mushy” scrape mark to far right of crack.

Note: Either of these two conditions (above) alone would preclude the designation.


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Near-FBL Coin 6

1958

A very small unstruck segment of the BL’s immediately above the clapper takes this otherwise fairly well struck example out of FBL category.


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Near-FBL Coin 7

1952

Again, a very small unstruck segment of the BL’s immediately above the clapper takes this otherwise fairly well struck example out of FBL category.


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Near-FBL Coin 8

1957

Traveling left from the crack about 40% of the distance to the left edge of bell, two very small interruptions [one is pit, second is vertical cut adjacent to pit] preclude designation. Very close.


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Near-FBL Coin 9

1960-D

Technically a “just barely made it” FBL. However, the abrasive scraping across the BL’s to the left of the clapper and, to a lesser degree, to the right of the clapper, are frowned upon by collectors and knock this coin out of the FBL category.


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Near-FBL Coin 10

1958-D

True borderline FBL. This lands squarely in the gray zone where an experienced Franklin collector would likely call it FBL one day and non-FBL the next. The author would give this coin the nod more oftentimes than not.


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FBL Coin 11

1959


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FBL Coin 12

1961


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FBL Coin 13

1958

Interestingly, this particular coin/image illustrates an important point to bear in mind regarding bell lines: you cannot always judge a Franklin’s bell line status from a picture. Due to the nature of web based pix, and variable factors such as angle, and lighting, this particular coin’s pic does not appear to be FBL (even though it is FBL “in-hand”). An in-hand examination of the coin is imperative with many coins.


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FBL Coin 14

1954

The contact mark on the left BL’s is not severe enough to obfuscate this fairly strong FBL.