[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, Rick Tomaska. This information was originally published in 2002 in The Complete Guide to Franklin Half Dollars]
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WHY 5 DIFFERENT MS 65 RARITY TABLES?
The different rarity tables were designed to reflect the tastes of collectors who are attempting to assemble MS 65 Franklin sets. There are those collectors who want their Franklins brilliant and untoned, but make no distinction with regard to strike – whether their set is FBL or non-FBL. Then there are those collectors who not only want an untoned brilliant set, but also want their coins struck as boldly as possible, with full bell lines. A third table is for the collectors who prefer toned coins, and want them boldly struck with full bell lines. The fourth table is for collectors assembling a toned set who are not as concerned about strike.
Important: The kind of set one wishes to assemble has tremendous bearing on the degree of difficulty in assembling a complete set of Franklins. As a general rule, most Franklin dates are rarer in MS 65 brilliant condition, whether FBL or non-FBL, than they are in MS 65 toned condition.
Why? Part of the reason is due to the way the major grading services grade brilliant and toned coins. Given two coins with identical bagmarks and strike, the coin with color toning will often grade higher than its brilliant counterpart (see chapter on Grading for more on this topic). In other words, many of the toned MS 65 Franklins on the market might not grade MS 65 if it were not for their color. Finding untoned, brilliant Franklins with surfaces clean enough to grade MS 65 is extremely difficult for most dates.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Many dates that are relatively common in MS 65 toned condition may be scarce or even rare in MS 65 brilliant condition, and many dates relatively common in MS 65 are very scarce or rare in MS 65 with Full Bell Lines. Study these tables.