In previous blogs we have highlighted several different half-dollar coins, including the Kennedy half dollar and the Walking Liberty half. Today we will discuss another half-dollar error coin that is quite collectible – the Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollar. This remarkable coin features a die clash error that produced the rather comical effect of a buck-toothed Benjamin Franklin; thus, its name.
The Franklin Half Dollar
Designed by then chief engraver John R. Sinnock, the Franklin half dollar was first minted in 1948 and continued to be produced until 1963. It features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse.
This coin is popular with collectors for a number of reasons. It features a number of patriotic images, from the Liberty Bell to the Eagle to Franklin himself. Most Americans learned about Benjamin Franklin in school, so his face is a very familiar one.
Also, like the Walking Liberty, but unlike the Kennedy, all Franklin halves were struck in 90% silver and so are worth at least their melt value, regardless of demand or condition.
Features of the Bugs Bunny Franklin Half Dollar
Among Franklin error coins, the Bugs Bunny half dollar stands out and is quite popular with coin collectors. The Liberty Bell is featured on its reverse, but on the obverse there is a buck tooth-like appearance on Benjamin Franklin’s portrait. This error occurred when the eagle’s wings on the reverse die impressed the obverse die in the region of Franklin’s mouth, resulting in a spike that suggests buck teeth.
This minting error is known to have occurred on multiple dates between 1948 and 1963, with the 1955 and 1956 Franklin half dollars as perhaps the best examples. At this time the Looney Tunes character Bugs Bunny was a popular cultural icon, which inspired the coin’s name.
The “Bugs Bunny” error is not considered to be a major flaw, and it does not affect the coin’s value significantly. However, it does make the coin more desirable to collectors.
Demand and Value of Bugs Bunny Half Dollars
Because this die error occurred repeatedly, Bugs Bunny half dollars are not exceedingly rare, however, the 1955 version is a favorite with collectors. The 1955 Franklin half dollar is the lowest mintage coin of the entire series, with only 48,200 coins struck. Also known as the “Frankenbunny” or the “Bucktooth Franklin,” this coin is worth up to $5,000 depending on its condition – with uncirculated versions selling for up to $1,950 and Full Bell Line examples going for as much as $5,000.
1955 and 1956 Bugs Bunny Half Dollars in the MS63 to MS65 range are typically valued between $50 and $100 for the 1955 version, and $65 to $130 for the 1956 version.
Depending on its condition, the value of a Bugs Bunny half dollar can vary, with uncirculated versions commanding around $40 or more. Circulated normal 1955 or 1956 Franklin half dollars, on the other hand, are closer to their silver melt values, which is around $7 per coin when silver prices are $20 per ounce.
If you’re a fan of both numismatics and the iconic Bugs Bunny character, you may want to put this coin on your wishlist. Grand Rapids Coins can help you locate one if you would like assistance. Call us today, contact us through our website, or stop in at our Rockford location. We are also available to evaluate your collection or help you realize a fair value when you buy and sell your coins and currency.