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||HALF DOLLARS - FRANKLIN
||NGC MS 64 FBL
It is sometimes amusing to read authors of earlier eras, and see how drastically knowledge and opinions have changed with time and experience. Ehrmantraut’s writeup about the 1962 Franklin is one such example of this. He says the 1962 is one of the easiest 60’s dates to obtain, and says that the coins are generally decently struck. He says that the ‘62 is significantly easier to find than the ‘61, and that you should be able to find a specimen with deep, full, bold bell lines with a little searching. Lets just say that I’ve been looking at Franklin half dollars for 7 years now, and the specimen I recently bought was the first one I’ve ever seen with full bell lines. That should tell you how rare they actually are.
Tomaska’s opinion of the date seems to be a bit more accurate. Tomaska asserts that the 1962 in FBL is the rarest of all issues, second only to the 1953S. The 1961 Philadelphia mint Franklin is about the same as the 1962 in terms of strike rarity. Census reports bear this out, showing only a handful of FBL coins graded at NGC (remember – PCGS doesn’t count in my book, they have certified hundreds of supposed FBL coins). Coins of this date are generally very poorly struck, with a large amount of bagmarks. Luster is generally good to above average, but color coins are incredibly scarce as usual because of the change in mint packaging.
I really like the die polish lines on both sides of this coin, which can be easily seen in the pictures below. To some collectors, die polish lines are an immediate turn off – some argue that the eye appeal is seriously hurt by these polish lines. I disagree, and think that they are interesting. When a mint worker noticed a die that had clashed, or needed cleaning, he would take a wire brush and polish the die. This left raised lines on the coin, and can range from light to very heavy. These die polish lines are often used to positively attribute a die variety, since the polishing on two different dies never looks the same. Collectors must be aware, however, of the difference between die polishing lines and lines due to cleaning. After a coin is cleaned by a wire brush or some other harsh method, ugly and unsightly lines will be left on the surface of the coin. Two important differences aid the collector in identifying the two different kinds of lines – 1.) Die polish lines are raised on the surface of the coin, since they are scraped onto the surface of the die. Remember, the die is the inverse of the coin. Cleaning lines are sunk into the surface of the coin. With proper lighting and experience, the difference can be ascertained. 2.) Die polish lines will appear to go under the devices; cleaning lines go across the devices. Think about how a die appears: anything that is going to be raised on a coin is sunk into a die. When the mint worker polishes the fields of the die, his brush does not go down into the devices. When someone cleans a coin, however, the devices are now raised above the fields. The brush must go across the devices, and will leave marks on the top of the devices. This is an important difference, and one of the first things to look for if you suspect a coin has been cleaned.
My piece is a superb example of the issue, and definitely ranks in the highlights of my Franklin collection. Although its graded MS-64 FBL, I believe it to be on the high end of 64, borderline 65. The surfaces are remarkably mark free – basically the only mark is an attempted lobotomy on Franklin’s head. The luster is bright over white surfaces, with the obverse displaying large amounts of die polish lines. I believe the obverse is a later die state, while the reverse is from a fresh new die. This explains the full, deep, bold bell lines – I wouldn’t be surprised if this coin was the exact example Ehrmantraut was describing in his book. The wisps of hair, eagle, Pass and Stow, and bell lines are all strongly struck; this is truly an impressive example for the date.
I got this beautiful coin in trade with a friend on the NGC chat boards. I had an 1830 Capped Bust Half graded EF-45 by PCGS, and he traded me for it in July, 2009.
Notable Events in 1962:
The Navy SEALS are activated.
The Beatles release their first record, and the Rolling Stones debut.
Algeria gains independence from France.
Johnny Carson takes over the Tonight Show, and Telstar relays the first trans-Atlantic television signal.
JFK handles the Cuban Missile Crisis.