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Franklin Half Dollars

In 1947, U.S. Mint director Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman to hold that position, instructed Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock to prepare designs for a Franklin half dollar. She had always deeply admired Franklin, who himself was known to oppose portraits on coins, like many of the Founding Fathers. Sinnock based his designs on a Franklin medal he had created previously but died before he could fully adapt these designs to the new half dollar, which required completion by his successor, Gilroy Roberts. The obverse features a bust of Franklin, while the reverse shows a large rendition of the Liberty Bell and a smaller depiction of an eagle. The eagle was included to satisfy an old law requiring it to appear on all U.S. silver coins. The Franklin half dollar was released to the public at noon on April 30th, 1948, the anniversary of George Washington’s 1789 presidential inauguration. Production continued for 15 years until it was replaced abruptly by the Kennedy half dollar.  This coin was swiftly introduced following the President’s assassination on November 22nd, 1963, and signed into law on December 30th of that year, marking the early end of the Franklin half dollar series and rending them a popular collector coin for decades to come.

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