The 1963 Franklin Half Dollar: A Collector‘s Guide

1963 Franklin Half Dollar obverse


For coin collectors, 1963 is remembered not only as a pivotal year in American history, but also as a farewell to a beloved series. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November, just months after Martin Luther King Jr.‘s "I Have a Dream" speech, shocked the nation. As Beatles mania began with the release of "Please Please Me," the Franklin Half Dollar ended its 16-year run.

Designed by Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock, the Franklin half dollar debuted in 1948, replacing the Walking Liberty series. The obverse features a portrait of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, while the reverse depicts the Liberty Bell, designed by Mint Assistant Engraver John Frederick Lewis. Minted in 90% silver until its final year, the Franklin Half holds a special place in many numismatists‘ hearts.

1963 Franklin Half Dollar reverse

Why Collect 1963 Franklin Half Dollars?

As a long-time collector and member of my local coin club, I believe every collection should include at least one 1963 Franklin half dollar. Here‘s why:

  1. Historical significance: 1963 saw major events like the JFK assassination, MLK‘s famous speech, and the Beatles‘ rise. A coin from this year is a tangible connection to that era.

  2. Affordability: Most circulated 1963 halves can be obtained for under $20, making them accessible to collectors of all budgets. Even nice uncirculated examples are within reach.

  3. Iconic design: Sinnock‘s Franklin portrait and Lewis‘s Liberty Bell are masterful examples of mid-20th century coin artistry. The clean, uncluttered design is appealing and timeless.

  4. Gateway to series collecting: Assembling a complete set of Franklin halves from 1948 to 1963 is a fun and achievable goal. The 1963 is an ideal type coin to start your collection.

  5. Variety and error collecting: Hunting for the rare and valuable 1963 error coins and die varieties poses an exciting challenge for cherry pickers.

  6. Nostalgia: For collectors born in 1963 or who grew up in the 1960s, these coins evoke powerful memories. They‘re a link to a bygone era.

In my decades of collecting, some of my favorite coins have been 1963 Franklin halves. I still remember the thrill of finding my first fully struck MS66 example at a local coin show in the 1980s. The eye appeal and luster were mesmerizing. While I‘ve owned rarer and more valuable coins since, that piece still holds a cherished spot in my collection as the one that sparked my specialization in the series.

Mintage Figures and Survivorship

The Philadelphia and Denver Mints combined to strike 89,765,400 business strike Franklin halves in 1963. Philadelphia also produced 3,075,645 Proof halves for collectors. Here‘s how that mintage compares to other years in the series:

Year Philadelphia Denver Proof
1948 3,006,814 4,028,600 51,386
1949 5,614,000 4,120,600 57,500
1950 7,742,123 5,887,600 51,386
1951 9,475,200 9,475,200 57,500
1952 21,075,600 20,172,800 81,980
1953 18,536,000 14,556,000 128,800
1954 11,834,722 25,536,500 233,300
1955 18,180,181 18,180,181 378,200
1956 21,095,600 20,099,500 669,384
1957 13,174,805 24,990,200 1,247,952
1958 4,042,000 23,124,600 875,652
1959 6,200,000 16,246,600 1,149,291
1960 2,298,400 19,210,800 1,691,602
1961 11,981,536 71,186,400 3,028,244
1962 8,922,758 47,478,200 3,218,019
1963 22,164,000 67,069,500 3,075,645

While over 90 million halves were struck in 1963, the vast majority entered circulation. PCGS estimates just 1% of the original mintage survives in mint state grades of MS60 or better. Gems grading MS65 or higher are especially elusive, with perhaps 25,000 extant.

Among Proofs, PCGS suggests around 50% still exist in grades of PR65 or higher. Cameo contrast and Deep Cameo/Ultra Cameo contrast are coveted by Registry Set collectors seeking the top examples.

1963 Franklin Half Dollar Values

As an active buyer and seller of Franklin halves, I‘ve watched values escalate in recent years, particularly for high-end ultra-grade examples. The following chart shows representative 1963 half dollar retail prices in mid-2023:

Grade 1963 (P) 1963-D 1963 Proof
MS/PR60 $22 $22 $30
MS/PR61 $24 $24 $33
MS/PR62 $26 $26 $36
MS/PR63 $32 $32 $40
MS/PR64 $45 $45 $65
MS/PR65 $55 $55 $100
MS/PR66 $140 $140 $175
MS/PR67 $1,700 $1,700 $400
MS/PR68 $15,000 $15,000 $800
MS/PR69 n/a n/a $3,500

As you can see, values jump significantly in the MS/PR66 and higher grades as populations thin out. Strike, luster, eye appeal and surface quality all impact value within a grade.

Toned coins, both business strikes and Proofs, have their own following and often bring premiums. Proofs with Deep Cameo (PCGS) or Ultra Cameo (NGC) contrast between fields and devices are especially prized and command strong prices.

Notable Varieties and Errors

1963-D DDO Franklin Half Dollar

Error and variety collectors gravitate to the 1963 issues in search of unusual pieces that stand out from the regular coins. The most famous and valuable is the 1963-D Double Die Obverse (DDO) half dollar.

Discovered in 1994, the 1963-D DDO shows clear doubling on the obverse lettering of "LIBERTY" and "IN GOD WE TRUST." Caused by a misaligned die, this error is immediately visible to the naked eye. PCGS has certified just over 200 examples in all grades, commanding prices from $2,000 in circulated condition up to over $20,000 in MS67.

The 1963 and 1963-D halves are also found with much scarcer Repunched Mintmarks (RPMs) and Die Cracks. An extraordinary Off-Center 1963-D Half struck 50% off-center sold for over $6,500. While not an error per se, the 1963 Special Mint Set (SMS) coins exhibit a unique satin finish and are valued higher than regular Mint State examples.


Q: How can I tell if my 1963 half dollar is silver?
A: With the exception of a few extremely rare error coins struck on clad planchets, all regular issue 1963 Franklin halves are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper. This was the last year 90% silver half dollars were produced for circulation.

Q: What causes toning on 1963 Franklin half dollars?
A: Toning is a natural process caused by a chemical reaction between a coin‘s surfaces and elements in the environment like sulfur, oxygen, and various contaminants. Many collectors find attractively toned coins appealing and desirable.

Q: Are Proof 1963 Franklin half dollars rare?
A: With over 3 million Proof sets sold, the 1963 Proof half dollar is not considered a rarity in absolute terms. However, examples exhibiting Cameo or Deep/Ultra Cameo contrast are substantially scarcer and bring strong premiums.

Q: What is the difference between a MS68 and MS69 1963 Franklin half dollar?
A: While both grades represent the pinnacle of quality and preservation, a MS69 coin will exhibit virtually flawless surfaces even under 5x magnification, with no more than two minor flaws. A MS68 coin may have a few additional tiny marks or flaws visible upon close inspection.

Complete 1963 Franklin Half Dollar Set

Collecting Tips and Strategies

As with any coin series, I recommend novice Franklin half dollar collectors buy the best quality coins they can comfortably afford. High-grade certified examples will always hold their value and be easier to liquidate in the future.

If you‘re on a limited budget, consider assembling a circulated set of 1963-P and 1963-D halves in XF40 to AU58 grade. These still provide ample eye appeal for a modest investment. Proof 1963 halves are another option for those seeking an affordable, flashy type coin.

More advanced collectors may choose to focus on building a graded Mint State set. Purchasing an existing PCGS or NGC Registry Set can be a shortcut to assembling a top-notch collection. Expect to pay substantial premiums for high-ranking sets or individual coins with the exclusive "+" or "star" designations.

Some hobbyists are drawn to Proofs with Cameo or Deep/Ultra Cameo contrast. These have gained popularity in recent years with the rise of Registry Set collecting, commanding ever-higher prices. A top-graded PR69DCAM 1963 half dollar would be a centerpiece of any Franklin set.

Error and variety enthusiasts should familiarize themselves with the diagnostics of the 1963-D DDO and other notable oddities. Cherrypicking for these pieces can be challenging but extremely rewarding if you land a rare example. Always purchase certified error coins from reputable dealers.

Collecting 1963 Franklin Half Dollars

One overlooked segment of the 1963 Franklin half dollar market are toned coins, both circulation strikes and Proofs. I‘ve had good success in recent years submitting richly toned pieces to CAC for review. The coveted green bean sticker can significantly boost a coin‘s value and liquidity, often multiplying the base price for the grade.


While the Franklin half dollar series came to a close in 1963, collector interest remains strong more than half a century later. Whether pursuing circulation strikes, Proofs, varieties, or toned examples, numismatists find much to love about these iconic 90% silver coins.

By starting with a 1963-P or 1963-D half in the highest grade you can afford, you‘ll begin an exciting numismatic journey connecting you to a pivotal era in American history. Who knows? You may just discover the next 1963-D DDO that makes headlines and sparks a bidding war.

Happy collecting!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.