[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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101 Doubled die obverse. (photo)
102 Doubled die reverse. Minor doubling which shows best at motto. See Comments. (photo)
Current Availability & Values
All Circulated Grades: Saved as first year of issue, despite fairly low mintage.
Value: AU’s are worth about $7.
MS 64 FBL: This another very good date to collect in MS 64 FBL – especially in either brilliant or attractively toned condition.
Value: Attractive MS 64 FBL coins typically trade in the $40-$60 range, but may be considered slightly undervalued at that level, given their scarcity. $11 in MS60 to $32 in MS64.
MS 65 Brilliant: Scarce when the first Franklin Guide was published in 1997, the 1948-D is far more elusive today in fully brilliant MS 65. Since this is normally a very well struck issue, most examples are FBL.
Value: Very scarce in brilliant MS 65. Very under priced at current levels. These were $700-$800 coins in 1989, $100-$200 today in non-FBL.
MS 65 Toned: The 1948-D also mirrors the 1948-P with respect to toning. The majority of the toned specimens come from original government issue mint-sets, and possess similar golden-brown toning as found on the ‘48- P’s. Luster is generally average on these coins. The 1948-D is very difficult to find in MS 65 with attractive color toning. Such examples generally command a significant premium.
Value: Extremely scarce in MS 65 with attractive color toning, and worth a healthy premium if you can find one. Average toned examples can generally be acquired for $100-$200 in non-FBL. The finest color-toned examples have traded for well over $500.
MS 65 FBL: Like the 1948-P, most ‘48-D’s are well struck or fully struck. If one locates a gem 1948-D, it is generally full bell line. The examples not qualifying as FBL are usually due to excessive bagmarks in the bell line area, and not to strike. Fully brilliant untoned 1948-D Franklins are now quite scarce. Most gems have some degree of toning.
Value: Do not pay a significant premium for FBL – around 25% should be enough. Brilliant specimens generally command a bit more than average toned examples – $200-$300 for the former and $150-$250 for the latter.
MS 66 & MS 67: As rare as the ‘48-P is in MS 66, the ‘48-D is at least 3 times scarcer. Finding an example clean enough with nice color to warrant an MS 66 grade is almost impossible. 1948-D Franklins with brilliant untoned surfaces are extremely scarce in MS66 FBL, far more elusive than the 1948- P in this grade.
The 1948-D is unknown in MS 67. (None graded by NGC or PCGS) Value: This was a $3,500 coin in 1989 for very good reason. Still an expensive date, but if you are assembling a top Franklin set, well worth the money. This date has appreciated considerably over the past several years, and is currently a $1500-$2500 coin when found with the typical golden brown mint set color. Examples with superb color, or blast-white untoned surfaces, command considerably more, usually trading in the $3,000-$5,000 range.
Though a million more ‘48-D’s were minted than ‘48-P’s, the 1948-D is the rarer coin in gem condition. Being the first year of issue, original rolls of each were horded in small amounts. However, Denver minted Franklins seemed to acquire far more bagmarks from the moment they were struck to the time they reached the banks. The 1948-D is scarce in gem toned condition, and extremely scarce in gem brilliant. Fortunately, it is a well struck date, and most examples are full bell line. This date is a great buy in either untoned brilliant MS 65 FBL grade, or MS 65 FBL grade with exceptional toning. The 1948-D is now far more scarce in either condition than at the time of the publication of the first “Franklin Guide”.