The 1961 Franklin Half Dollar saw its most dramatic change in the surging mintage for the proof version of the coin, which nearly doubled from the prior year. Since 1950, the Philadelphia Mint had produced proof coins for inclusion in the annual proof set. From the initial mintage of 51,386 coins, the total for 1961 had grown to more than 3 million.
A notable variety of the series occurred for this year with the 1961 Proof Franklin Half Dollar Double Die Reverse. The doubling is evident even without magnification on the inscription “E Pluribus Unum” and the word “United”. The major grading services PCGS and NGC have authenticated fewer than 200 examples out of the vast overall mintage. Values are in the thousands of dollars and even higher for the few cameo and single deep cameo examples of the variety.
The 1961 and 1961-D half dollars struck for circulation are easily encountered in lower grades, but scarce in gem condition. The Philadelphia issue in particular is one of the scarcest coins of the series in gem condition with Full Bell Lines, after the well known 1953-S and 1962. Both the 1961 and 1961-D half dollars are extremely rare graded MS66 or MS66 FBL, with no issues graded higher.
Designer: John R. Sinnock
Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
1961 Proof: 3,028,244