[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]
* * *
Current Availability & Values
All Circulated Grades: Available with a little searching.
Value: AU’s are worth about $5. Uncirculated coins are recommended.
MS 64 FBL: The 1956-P is actually a bit more elusive than the 1955-P in MS 64 FBL. The biggest problem for the 1956-P is strike – many examples are not FBL. Color coins are scarce.
Value: 1956-P MS 64 FBL brilliant Franklins generally trade between $30 and $50. Some beautiful toned specimens have sold for over $100.
MS 65 Brilliant: Another date that is very underrated in MS 65 brilliant condition. This date is among the most common issues in MS 65, but virtually all of these coins are toned examples from mint sets. Original 1956-P rolls may turn up a gem or two, though the chances are remote. Bagmarks are plentiful in these rolls. The coins generally possess excellent luster. A bit surprising is the strike quality of this date, which is below average. Most 1956-P Franklins are not FBL.
Value: Brilliant gems are very inexpensive considering their scarcity. They can usually be acquired for under $50 in non-FBL brilliant.
MS 65 Toned: As previously noted, extremely common in MS 65 toned. HOWEVER…finding an attractive, multi-colored example can be challenging. While beautifully toned examples were once relatively common, the majority of these coins have been “salted away” long ago. Few owners are willing to part with them at current levels. The colors can be quite spectacular – splashes of deep purples, blues, green, burgundy, and goldenorange to name a few!
Value: Average toned examples can be acquired for $30-$50 in non-FBL. More eye-appealing examples will be considerably more. How much more can be negotiated between you and the owner. $200 in some cases may not be unreasonable if the coin is particularly nice.
MS 65 FBL: Perhaps 15-30% of known MS 65 examples are FBL. The 1956-P ranks among the poorer struck “P” mints in the series. This date is almost as scarce as the 1955-P in brilliant MS 65 with full bell lines.
Value: A premium of 75-150% in FBL over its non-FBL counterpart would be reasonable for this date. A nicely toned specimen can usually be acquired for around $100, while a brilliant example may command double that figure – actually quite inexpensive considering the tremendous scarcity of the issue in such condition.
MS 66 & MS 67: The 1956-P exists in MS 67 and MS 67 FBL. To date, PCGS has graded several examples. NGC has not graded an FBL 1956-P higher than MS 66. All the MS 67 and MS 67 FBL examples are toned, most if not all from mint sets. The toning on most of the examples this author has handled have been attractive. This date ranks among the most common issues in both MS 66 and MS 66 FBL. However, virtually all are mint set toned specimens. The 1956-P is quite rare in brilliant MS 66 and MS 66 FBL.
Value: Values for exceptionally toned MS 66 FBL 1956-P Franklins have soared dramatically. The finest known examples have traded for over $1,000! Brilliant examples have been known to trade for over $3,000! In MS 67 FBL, this date can sometimes be acquired for as little as $3,000 if the toning is not particularly attractive. At the other end of the spectrum, finest known examples have sold for over $6,000.
A very low mintage date, nevertheless the 1956-P is among the most common Franklins in MS 65. The majority are mint set toned. Some have truly breathtaking color, though the finest examples are very elusive – the owners are unwilling to part with a coin so beautiful, at today’s very low levels. Untoned, brilliant 1956-P’s are extremely scarce and underrated in MS 65, especially in full bell line. The examples of this date that have appreciated most the past several years are the finer known specimens – superb color coins in MS 65 and higher grade, MS 66 FBL examples in brilliant condition, and MS 67 FBL coins.