The 1963 Franklin Half Dollar is one of the most memorable coins struck by the US mints. It is the only coin that pays tribute to Benjamin Franklin, an important figure in the history of America.
In Fine condition, a 1963 Franklin Half Dollar costs $12.00, while a certified mint state (MS+) can be about $58. The 90% fine silver and 10% copper coin has a total melt value of $8.23.
Designed as an honor to Franklin, this coin features the portrait on its frontal face and a liberty bell on the reverse. The coin derives its name from the iconic leader who was a statesman and founding father.
This article focuses on the history of the half dollar, significant features, the origin of the mint, and frequently asked questions. Plus, we also help you know how to grade your coin by physically examining its outer surface.
What Is 1963 Franklin Half Dollar?
It is a silver currency issued for circulation by the US mint in 1963. The coin features the image of Benjamin Franklin and the Liberty Bell. The 1963 Franklin Half Dollar was the last among the half dollar coins struck between 1948-1963.
1963 Franklin Half Dollar Summary
- Name: Benjamin Franklin Silver Half Dollar
- Year of issue: 1963
- Face Value: 0.50 USD
- Mintage volume: 22,164,000
- Silver Content: 90% Silver, 10% copper
- Weight: .3617 oz.
- Silver Melt: $8.18
History of the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar
Before the Franklin half dollars, the US mints struck the Walking Liberty Half Dollars. The US mints required no Congress Act to change the walking half dollars. However, they halted the plan to change the walking dollars because of the ongoing Second World War.
The chief engraver for the US mint, John Sinnock, designed the first specimens of the Franklin Half Dollar. Unfortunately, he passed on, and his assistant took over the project to completion. In 1948, the US mint struck the first Half Dollar coin featuring the image of Benjamin Franklin.
The Half Dollars became the primary economic driver, circulating freely within the country. However, not many people collected the silver coin for its numismatic value. It lacked an inspiring luster design.
The scramble for the Half Dollars came to an end on November 22, 1963. An assassin gunned down President John F. Kennedy at a procession in Dallas, Texas. The country went into mourning, renaming public parks, streets, and buildings after the fallen hero.
Following the assassination of President John Kennedy, the US government resolved to pay homage to the murdered president. The Congress, therefore, opted to immortalize Kennedy on the Franklin Half Dollar. In 1964, the US mint struck the Kennedy Half Dollar, bringing the Franklin Half Dollar to a halt.
However, some numismatists retained the fresh rolls of uncirculated Franklin Half Dollars. Today, they are valuable owing to their high silver melt value. Coin collectors still crave uncirculated Franklin Half Dollars.
Reason for Minting
The production of the Franklin Half Dollar was an act of honor to Benjamin Franklin. Previously, the then-mint director Nellie Tayloe had the Half Dollar in mind. She admired Benjamin Franklin’s style of leadership. So, she instructed the chief engraver at the mint to create future designs for the Half Dollar.
John R. Sinnock designed the first half dollar in 1948, based on an old statue of Benjamin Franklin. Like the 1926 Half Dollar, the coin featured a large Liberty Bell on its reverse side.
In 1963, the US mints struck a record 90 million coins of the half dollar series. The aim was to fill the gap left by bullion investors who hoarded silver coins. The year was, therefore, the most prolific for the half dollar. Minting took place at the main mint in Philadelphia and the branch mint at Denver. The Philadelphia mint struck 22,164,000 coins while Denver struck 67,069,292 half dollars.
Features of the 1963 Half Dollar
Designer John Sinnock reveals his artistic prowess on the coin’s impeccable design. It features unique images and slogans on both the obverse and the reverse sides.
Below is a YouTube video showing the features of the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar:
The obverse features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin at the center of the coin, with his head facing right. His hair weaves spread downwards, partially covering his right shoulder. Above his head is an inscription “LIBERTY,” reading clockwise along the upper edge. An inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” reads anticlockwise along the lower margin in block letters. The year of minting (1963) appears slightly above Franklin’s chest.
The reverse features a cracked Liberty bell hanging downward. On the right side is a small flying eagle with wings wide open. An inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM” appears to the left of the coin in block text. Along the upper rim is an inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” reading clockwise. The value of the coin (A HALF DOLLAR) appears along the lower margin
Like most American coins, Sinnock’s design features famous slogans on both sides. Taking a closer look at the half dollar, you will spot the following slogans:
E PLURIBUS UNUM
It was the first motto proposed for the country’s Great Seal in 1776. The three words come from a Latin phrase that means: one from many. The Latin phrase strongly expresses the country’s determination to form one nation from many states. It also shows the country’s bold move to remain united despite having citizens with various beliefs and backgrounds.
France donated the Liberty statue to the US as a gift to commemorate the alliance between both countries during the Great American revolution. Since then, the word ‘Liberty’ has been the official torch and slogan that lights the path to freedom, liberty, and democracy.
IN GOD WE TRUST
The US 84th Congress passed a resolution to adopt the slogan as the country’s national motto on July 30, 1956. It would serve as a reminder that the country’s fortunes are anchored on trust in God. The motto appears on one cent, ten cents, gold coins, silver, quarter dollar, and half dollar coins struck from 1908.
The mint mark is an all-important distinguishing feature of the coin. It shows the location of the mint that struck the half dollar. The 1963 Franklin Half Dollar has one mint mark “D” (Denver). However, the main mint struck the half dollars without a mint mark.
The US Mints struck the Half Dollar from 90% silver and 10% copper. Due to the high silver content, the coin is a favorite of many silver investors. The 1963 Franklin Dollar weighs 12.5 grams and has a diameter of 30.6 mm.
Franklin Half Dollar Value
Despite its high mintage, the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar is scarce in uncirculated condition, hence high valued. Below are some of the coin’s values at current market rates:
As the name suggests, the Franklin Half-Dollar is worth Half a dollar at face value. Its denominational value appears on the reverse side of the coin.
How Much Is the Metal in 1963 Half Dollar Worth?
The coin contains 90% fine silver and 10% copper. Based on the silver spot price of $22.56 per ounce, the silver melt value is $8.1598. Similarly, the copper spot price is $4.1446 per ounce, hence has a melt value of $0.0114. In total, the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar has a melt value of $8.17128. However, the melt value is a dynamic price, as it depends on the fluctuating spot price of silver.
How Much Is the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar at the Pawnshop?
1963 Franklin Half Dollars are worth more than their face value in pristine conditions. At a pawn shop, coin trackers estimate the coin’s value at $12.00 in average condition. A certified MS 60 coin sells at $25 and higher in MS 63 grade. An MS+ Franklin Half Dollar sells at $58, while a complete set of uncirculated Franklin Half Dollars can guarantee you a whopping $1,500.
Comparison Table Showing the Value of the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar:
|Proof (PR 65)
Factors that Determine the Franklin Half Dollar Value
Franklin Half Dollars have lower value in circulated conditions. However, the value may vary depending on several factors. What factors determine the value of a Franklin Half Dollar?
1. Full Bell Line
Over the years, coin collectors have given priority to Franklin Half Dollars with complete bell lines. A full bell line half-dollar features complete horizontal lines running across the Liberty bell. Uncirculated, full bell line half dollars are rare, hence highly valued.
Full bell line Franklin half dollars trade at 50% more than ordinary half dollars. In exceptional cases, some whole bell line half dollars even have higher prices. An entire bell line MS 65 Franklin half is worth $15,000.
2. Franklin Half Errors
Nearly all coin series have minting errors, and the Franklin half-dollar is no exception. An error coin appears different from similar coins of the same grade and type. The 1963 version has intriguing but scarce errors, which coin collectors want. Be sure to check for off-centre strikes, die cracks, multiple strikes, double dies, and repunched mint marks. A half-dollar error coin is worth $75 or more.
Coin collectors are looking for high-value uncirculated half dollars. So if you want a higher return for your coin, be sure to have a high-grade collectable. Professional grading companies have a rigorous process for verifying a Franklin half-dollar’s authenticity and metal content. This result is an assigned grade for the coin. The higher the quality, the higher prices it will fetch at numismatic markets. Below are the grading specifications for the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar:
A closer physical examination of your half-dollar will reveal an overall excellent condition in uncirculated grade. This coin has no wear on its surfaces and retains its original luster. If you tilt and rotate your currency under light, it shows a shiny band across both sides. In addition, Franklin’s chin, collar, and shoulder have no visible wear.
For your coin to qualify for this grade, it should have an overall excellent condition with minimal surface wear. It may have minor imperfections on texts and images and a slight shedding of the color. Despite this, the coin should still appear new and stunning.
A fine grade Franklin half-dollar has significant wear on the surface due to frequent circulation. It has visible damages on the texts, images, and edges. If you have difficulty identifying the coin’s features without a magnifying lens, it is probably in fine condition. A fine half dollar is only valuable if it has a unique rarity.
The lowest grade for the 1963 Franklin Half-Dollar features significant damage to the coin’s surface, edges, texts, and images. Without a visual aid, you cannot define the features of a half dollar in this grade. A good quality Franklin half-dollar is only worth its melt value.
1. What Is the Value of 1963 Proof Franklin Half Dollar?
According to coin trackers, 1963 Franklin proof coins are worth $25 in PR 65 grade. The US mints struck about 3,075,645 proofs in 1963.
2. Why was the 1963 Franklin Half Dollar short-lived?
The Franklin half dollars received negative criticism since inception. A section of the citizens preferred the walking half dollar over the Franklin Half Dollar. Additionally, the death of President John Kennedy made it necessary to design a new coin in honor of the late president.
3. Where Is the Mint mark on the 1963 Half Dollar?
The mint mark appears on the coin’s reverse side, on the yoke of the liberty bell.
Winding Up: Is the 1963 Half Dollar Value Worth it?
The 1963 Half Dollar was the last series of the Franklin dollars struck to pay tribute to Benjamin Franklin. It features the portrait of Franklin and contains 90% silver. Although it has a lower face value, it is still worth tens of dollars in very fine conditions. A full bell line or a mint error coin can guarantee you higher values. For questions or inquiries on how to grade a half dollar, contact us!