The Benjamin Franklin half dollar is a popular coin among numismatics and the general public. The 1954 half dollar is a very valuable coin. Often its worth reaches well over 10 times its face value, but can easily go beyond 100 times its original value.
There are two main reasons why the value of this 1954 half dollar is so high. Firstly, it’s no longer in circulation. Coins that are still being circulated, albeit with an older design, tend to be less valuable.
Secondly, the coin is 90% silver, and silver has a relatively high value. But not only is silver valuable, but as silver coins go, they’re part of history as coins predominantly are made from copper today.
In this article, we’ll discuss why these coins are valuable in greater detail, the history of the coin, how it’s graded, and which errors coin to look out for.
1854 Half Dollar Value Chart
|Series/Mint Mark||Good||Extremely Fine||MS64||MS66||MS 67+|
|1954 Half Dollar Value No Mint Mark||$9||$9.50||$35-50||$325 – 775||$14,000|
|1954 D Half Dollar Value||$9||$9.50||$35 – 50||$470 – 700||$4000 – 12,000|
|1954 S Half Dollar Value||$9||$9.50||$38 – 75||$215 – 875||$2,100 – 14,000|
|1954 Half Dollar Proof Value||$350+|
1954 Half Dollar No Mint Mark Value
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the particular coin is valuable. A total of 43 million of these half dollars were minted across three separate mints in 1954. It was minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. The coin itself is made of 90% silver and 10% copper.
It has a reeded edge, a thickness of 1.8 mm, and a diameter of 30.6 mm. In total, it weighs 12.5 grams. In comparison to other coins, the silver haöf dollar is a rather large coin. Although its weight is about half of the silver dollar, its diameter is longer. This has been an issue and one of the reasons why the dollar bills were the most popular form of currency and why they stuck around when many coins disappeared.
The design was created by coin designer and sculptor John R. Sinnock. He produced both the obverse and the reverse. One of his other coin designs was the Roosevelt Dime (though there was some controversy surrounding this regarding if the design was a copy of Selma Burke’s work or not).
The Franklin silver half dollar is a typical American coin in its design. It features two of the most significant historical icons from Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, and the Liberty Bell. The former is on the obverse, and the latter is on the reverse.
One of the most obvious differences between this coin and the majority of other coins is the portrait on the obverse. Benjamin Franklin is looking to the right. Most other presidents and heads on coins are left-facing.
This image of Franklin is inspired by French sculptor Jean-Antonie Houdon’s bust of Benjamin Franklin. Houdon’s work in creating busts has inspired many coins featuring the Founding Fathers.
Along the upper rim of the coin is the word “Liberty” written out in capitalized letters. This is another common feature of American coins. The same goes for the American motto “In God We Trust”, which is can be found along the bottom rim and edge of the coin. Usually, this is written in a more contained style, and not spread across an entire edge.
Where the motto is placed is usually where the production year of the coin is written. For this particular coin, the year is 1954, and it’s placed underneath Frankin’s chin.
In the shade of Franklin’s shoulder, almost hidden from view, is the sculptor’s initials: JRS. The initials are hard to spot when you’re just glancing over the coin. Many coins feature the designer’s initials more prominently.
As mentioned, the reverse of the coin features the cracked Liberty Bell in the center of the coin. The upper rim reads “United States of America” and along the arc of the lower rim is the denomination of the coin: “Half Dollar”.
On the left-hand side of the Liberty Bell are the Latin words “E Pluribus Unum” written. This translates to “out of many, one” and is a reference to the many states that make up the nation.
No American coin is complete without the bald eagle. Even this 1954 half-dollar whose most prominent feature is the Liberty Bell has room for a bald eagle. And it can be found on the right-hand side of the bell.
The eagle is in a pose position with its wing spread in a matter that could be described as “powerful” and “majestic”.
The coin struck and minted in Philadelphia does not have a mint mark. In fact, no mint marks were put on any coins minted for commercial reasons in Philadelphia. Only in 1980 did the “P” mint mark start to appear on coins minted at this location.
Nevertheless, over 13 million coins of the 1954 Franklin half-dollar were minted in Philadelphia. Its face value, naturally, is $0.50. However, by melting the coin and retaining the silver, the value is $9.
There was a shortage of silver in 1965. Many coins suddenly were worth more as silver than as a currency. So, many people melted all their coins and kept the silver. For this reason, many of the earlier silver coins have become more scarce and thus more valuable today.
The value difference between circulated and uncirculated coins at the lower gradings is not particularly large.
A well-preserved coin that has been kept in a good condition and sees a significant increase in value. From the silver value of $9, a coin graded high on the MS scale can be worth hundreds, of thousands of dollars.
An uncirculated MS 66 coin will be valued at anywhere between $300 and $700.
There is one particular aspect that can make the coin value reach thousands of dollars. And that is the level of detail of the horizontal lines of the Liberty Bell.
If these lines are intact the value of this coin will increase dramatically.
As the Franklin half dollar was released in 1948, the American government had completed its mission to replace all metaphorical images of people on coins with real people. For example, old coins featured “Lady Liberty” which is a fictional character representing freedom and liberty within the Nation.
The idea of putting Franklin on a coin came about in 1932. Initially, the thought was to put him on a dime because of his famous quote “A penny saved is two pence clear”. However, they deemed that a man of his stature deserved to exist in a larger denomination.
It took until 1948 before he was put on the silver half-dollar. Due to unfortunate circumstances, this Benjamin Franklin coin becomes the shortest-lived half-dollar in American History.
After the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 the government decided to honor him by putting him on a coin. The result was that Benjamin Franklin had to be replaced by Kennedy on the silver half-dollar in 1964.
Although Franklin was never president, he was more than one of the Founding Fathers. He was an innovator, author, and scientist whose contribution to the world of science hasn’t gone unnoticed.
1954 D Half Dollar Value
The Denver Mint produced over 25 million coins. This number was, at the time, a record-breaking amount of half dollars produced in Denver. You’ll know which coin was minted in Denver due to the mint mark “D”.
The location of the mint mark is somewhat unorthodox. Normally they’re placed in a clear space with few distractions surrounding it. But in this coin, the mint mark is located above the Liberty Bell and right underneath the word “States” along the upper rim. The reason the mint mark easily can get lost is because of the detailed work on the wooden stock on which the Liberty Bell hangs onto.
The Denver branch’s coins are about as valuable as the ones minted in Philadelphia. The silver content alone is worth around $9, which is the average value of circulated coins. As the MS scale increases, so does the value.
A half-dollar in great condition with Full Bell Lines is valued at around $700 – $1000.
1954 S Half Dollar Value
In many cases, the only coins produced in San Francisco are the proofs. However, in 1954 they also produced coins for currency and commercial use. According to experts, the coin from San Francisco wasn’t very appealing to collectors.
The only thing that stirred some interest among collectors was that it was believed this would be the last year San Francisco minted half-dollars. That was not the case though. Close to 5 million half-dollars were minted in San Francisco and bear the mint mark “S”.
Its value is generally the same as the previous two in the 1954 half-dollar series. With errors, of course, this coin is the rarest out of them all due to the lower volume produced.
The 1954 S with Full Bell Lines is also extremely rare and thus very valuable. A coin of that level of detail remaining has been sold for $13.250.
1954 Half Dollar Proof
There is one proof coin that is very rare. It was minted in Philadelphia so it does not have a mint mark, despite being a proof coin. Only 233,300 of this coin were ever created.
The average starting price for a coin of this scarcity can be around $350.
1954 Half Dollar Gradings
The value of these coins comes from experts looking very closely at the quality of the coin and determining how rare or special it is.
As we mentioned, the one thing on this particular half-dollar that will increase the value dramatically is the Full Bell Lines. If they are intact, the coin is rare and valuable.
Other aspects they look at are the level of detail left on the face of Franklin and the details on the eagle, or Liberty Bell. Usually, details get lost in the coin being used and passed around (sometimes for decades).
However, a lack of detail can also come from poor striking technique during the minting process.
Rare 1954 Half Dollar Error List
All mint production experience issues and errors during the minting process. When errors occur it can make coins very valuable due to their uniqueness. Here are some errors seen in the Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar series.
1954 Half dollar Bugs Bunny Error
This error occurs when the die has been damaged. The obverse die will be damaged by hitting the reverse due without a planchet. This will leave marks on the die. And these marks will in turn create errors in the obverse design.
In the case of the Buggs bunny error, the marks left are in the mouth area of Franklin. It looks like he has a set of fangs, or large teeth coming out of his mouth.
1954 Half Dollar Quater Planchet Error
From time to time, a planchet of a different denomination will make its way into the wrong production line. A few Franklin half dollars have been created on the quarter planchet. The quarter planchet is significantly smaller than the half dollar. This means much of the design will go missing.
If the most crucial aspects of the design remain (Franklin and Liberty Bell) the coin can sell for over $2000.
1954 Half Dollar Value FAQ
Is the 1954 half-dollar silver?
Yes, the half dollar from 1954 is made up of 90% silver and 10% copper. All coins before 1965 were mostly made out of silver. After that their composition changed to 90% copper and 10% nickel.
Where is the mint mark on a 1954 Ben Franklin Half Dollar?
The mint mark is located on the reverse, above the Liberty Bell, and underneath the word “states” which arcs along the upper rim of the coin.
How much is a 1954 silver coin worth?
The average coin is worth around $9. In rare cases, well-preserved coins, errors, or very unique coins can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.