Top Franklins Becoming More Popular
By Paul M. Green
ever expected the 1963 Franklin half dollar to
be special. With a mintage of 22,164,000, there
simply was no reason to save it.
Even in 1963 there were not a lot of Franklin
half dollar collectors. There were simply too
many other seemingly better options in
circulation. At the time one could still find
Mercury dimes and Walking Liberty half dollars.
Another factor was that the 1963 had a proof
mintage of 3,075,645.
While many who bought the 1963 sets would not
want to break them up, if the price was right
few would doubt that Philadelphia 1963 could be
found if there was any sort of demand.
The 1963 was saved quickly, not because anyone
thought it was a better date but because in 1964
the Franklin half dollar was replaced. In 1965
the amount of silver in the half dollar was
reduced to 40 percent, while silver was
eliminated entirely from the quarter and dime.
Few could ignore the message that silver coins
might some day be more valuable. All Franklin
half dollars were 90 percent silver, so all were
saved. Very quickly Franklin half dollars were
rarely seen in circulation.
Most of the 1963 Franklin half dollars that were
saved were probably lightly circulated. That
said, there were still the proofs, and there
would have been some quantities in Mint State
simply because there was not a good chance for
them to be released.
The hoards and accumulations would have kept the
price of the 1963 down in most grades were it
not for the late 1970s and early 1980s when the
price of silver was over $40 an ounce. At that
time any half dollar was easily worth $10 and
that was a bonanza for anyone owning a 1963.
Many were melted, and with good reason. Even
today an MS-60 is just $9.30. At the time no one
would have thought to check their 1963 Franklin
half dollar roll to see if there were any coins
that would have graded MS-65 and had full bell
For many years it seemed to matter little as the
demand for Franklin half dollars, even in top
grades, was not very strong. That, however, has
been slowly changing. In the process it has been
discovered that dates like the 1963 are
surprisingly unavailable in top grades. Today
the 1963 is at $55 in MS-65. In MS-65 with full
bell lines the price jumps to $1,200, which can
be considered a strong price.
We can expect that price to increase. The idea
of collecting Franklin half dollars in MS-65
with full bell lines is still growing. Supplies
are hard to gauge since the number of coins sent
to grading services is relatively low, but it is
likely that dates like the 1963 in MS-65 with
full bell lines are very limited.