[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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Varieties 101 Doubled die reverse. Shows best at motto. See Comments for further discussion. (photo)
Current Availability & Values
All Circulated Grades: Readily available. Though low mintage, many were saved as first-year of issue.
Value: AU’s are worth about $6. A nice AU58 about $10, even though the lowest grades are worth $3.
MS 64 FBL: A good date to acquire in MS 64 FBL! As original BU Franklin rolls of almost every Franklin date have evaporated from the market, choice MS 64 FBL specimens have become increasingly elusive. Color coins are also quite scarce.
Value: Choice MS 64 FBL brilliant Franklins can usually be acquired for under $50. Considering the limited availability of these coins, not a bad price! Toned examples are generally of the unattractive gray-brown variety, and will sell in the $30 range as a result. Color coins will usually sell for 2-3 times that figure.
MS 65 Brilliant: As with most coins in the Franklin series, gem 1948-P’s are usually found with some amount of toning (see notes on MS 65 toned) and brilliant coins can be difficult to find. Coupled with the extra demand for “fresh, white” coins by many collectors, these are often in short supply. Being the first year of issue, small quantities of original 1948-P rolls were tucked away by collectors upon their release from the mint. As a result, the 1948-P is one of the “less rare” dates in MS 65 brilliant condition. The term “less rare” is intentionally used, for while the 1948-P is easier to locate in MS 65 brilliant than most dates in the series, it is by no means easy to locate – they are not. More correctly stated, the 1948-P is not quite as rare as many of the other issues! Over the course of the past five years since the first edition of “The Complete Guide to Franklin Half Dollars” was published, this date has become quite elusive in fully brilliant MS 65 grade.
Value: At the peak of the market in 1989-90, MS 65 1948-P’s were selling in the $500-$600 range. Nice, white certified examples should currently be available in the $80-$100 range in non-FBL.
MS 65 Toned: Toned examples of the 1948-P are generally not as popular as their brilliant counterparts due largely to the fact that most toned specimens came from government-issue mint sets, and typically possess a rather dull golden-brown toning. Attractive, multicolored specimens are very scarce and generally attract a significant premium when located in MS 65.
Value: Coins with below-average to average toning are worth $60-$85. Expect to pay anywhere from 25-200% more for attractively toned examples.
MS 65 FBL: Most 1948-P’s are very well struck or fully struck. When located in MS 65, the ‘48-P is usually full bell line (FBL), and can usually be acquired for a small 25% premium over the price of a non-FBL. While relatively common at the time of the publication of the first Franklin Guide, this date is now semi-scarce in MS 65 FBL, either toned or brilliant.
Value: Most toned FBL examples with average color can be acquired for $100 or less. On the other hand, toned specimens with spectacular multicolored toning have traded hands for over $500. Fully brilliant MS 65 FBL 1948-P Franklins are a tremendous value at current values – they usually can be acquired for $125-$250. These coins are far more elusive now than 4- 5 years ago. Most original 1948-P Franklin rolls containing any gems have long been broken up, with the finer examples finding their way into top Franklin collections.
MS 66 & MS 67: Extremely scarce in MS 66 or higher grade. Toned examples usually do not have quite enough “pizzazz” to warrant the superior rating. Brilliant, untoned examples do exist in MS 66. Many otherwise superb, mark-free examples exhibit some pitting on the high points of Franklin’s cheek and on the Liberty bell, keeping these coins in the MS 65 category. This high-point pitting is a common problem with most Franklin dates, and is a major factor in the dearth of MS 66 and higher grade specimens in the series. To date, several 1948-P Franklins have been graded in MS 66 by the major grading services. On the plus side, most of these are probably FBL.
The 1948-P is extremely rare in MS 67 grade, with or without full bell lines. This author has handled two. One example was relatively brilliant, with light powder blue toning. The other was a spectacular iridescent multicolor toned example.
Value: Average toned 1948-P Franklins in MS 66 FBL can sometimes be acquired for as little as $300-$500. On the other hand, the few MS 66 FBL examples with spectacular multicolored toning have traded hands for upwards of $2,000. Fully brilliant untoned MS 66 FBL 1948-P Franklins have been trading between $800-$1500.
The finest MS 67 FBL this author has handled sold for well over $10,000. It was graded MS 67 * FBL by NGC – the only MS 67 FBL to also receive the “star” designation from that service.
This date was relatively easy to acquire in MS 65 FBL brilliant five years ago, when the first “Complete Guide” was published. Since that time, such examples have become considerably more elusive – far more elusive than its current low price might indicate!
All 1948-P’s show some doubling on the motto which, according to Breen, is in the master die and appears to some degree on all coins struck in 1948. We have designated a variety for the strongest doubling found (#101). (Breen,417)
101. 1948 Doubled die reverse. (Stanton/Fivaz)