Coin Value Finder » 1953 Half Dollar Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

1953 Half Dollar Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

Did you find a vintage 1953 half dollar coin lying around in your house? Or have your grandparents passed down their collection to you? In any case, that’s a lucky find!

The 1953 half dollar value can vary from a few dollars to several thousand. It all depends on the variety, condition, and details of the coin. Since this might be a tricky task for beginners, we are here to help.

In today’s post, we will discuss how to evaluate the value of the 1953 half dollar, its history, grading, errors, and much more. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1953 Half Dollar Details

1953 Half Dollar Details

  • Category: Franklin Half Dollar
  • Mint: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
  • Mintage: 27,974,020
  • Obverse Designer: John R. Sinnock
  • Reverse Designer: John R. Sinnock and Gilroy Roberts
  • Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
  • Fineness: 9
  • Weight: 5g
  • ASW: 3617oz

1953 Half Dollar Value Chart

Mint Mark Good Extremely Fine MS-60 MS-65 MS-70
1953 No Mint Mark Half Dollar Value $9 $9.50 $18.50 $130 to $775 $4,600
1953 “S” Mint Mark Half Dollar Value $9 $13.50 $28 $95 $1,800
1953 “D” Mint Mark Half Dollar Value $9 $9.50 $18.50 to $23 $110 to $130 $14,250 to $22,000

1953 Half Dollar Value and Varieties Guide

1953 No Mint Mark Half Dollar

1953 No Mint Mark Half Dollar

  • Type: Franklin Half Dollar
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Mint Mark: No Mint Mark
  • Place of Minting: Philadelphia
  • Year of Minting: 1953
  • Face Value: $0.50
  • Price: $9 to $4,600
  • Quantity Produced: 2,668,120
  • Designer: John R. Sinnock
  • Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
  • Mass: 50 g
  • Diameter: 30 mm

In the Franklin half dollar series, the no-mint mark coins were produced in the lowest quantity in Philadelphia. Only 2.6 million coins were minted, and luckily, many collectors saved them at the time. This explains why we have an abundance of them available today.

However, the majority of these coins are worn-out and damaged. The good and extremely fine grade 1953 no mint mark half dollar coins value at $9 to $9.50. You might be able to sell them for up to $15 if the condition is not so bad.

The uncirculated (MS-65) and mint state (MS-70) coins have a much higher value. While MS-65 coins value from $130 to $775, the MS-70 ones have a cost in the thousands. The highest price of a mint-state 1953 no-mint mark half dollar coin was sold for $4,600.

So, how do you determine a Franklin no-mint mark half dollar? Flip the coin and examine the liberty bell. The mint marks are placed at the top of the beam. Since Philadelphia coinage didn’t place any mintmark, there will be nothing over there.

1953 “S” Mint Mark Half Dollar

1953 “S” Mint Mark Half Dollar

  • Type: Franklin Half Dollar
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Mint Mark: S
  • Place of Minting: San Francisco
  • Year of Minting: 1953
  • Face Value: $0.50
  • Price: $9 to $1,800
  • Quantity Produced: 4,148,000
  • Designer: John R. Sinnock
  • Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
  • Mass: 50 g
  • Diameter: 30 mm

The 1953 “S” mint mark half dollar coins are easy to recognize. While the front side features Benjamin Franklin, the back side of the coin has a liberty bell. But it’s not the usual bell-like on every Franklin half dollar coin.

If you look closely, there will be a small yet embossed “S”. It will be right on top of the bell and under the letter E in States. This represents the place where the coins were minted – San Francisco.

The number of 1953 half dollar coins minted at the San Francisco facility is moderate. Almost 4.1 million coins were produced, which means there are still a lot of them available. However, similar to Philadelphia coinage, they are usually found in average condition. The lines and shine will be faded.

You can sell a good to extremely fine grade 1953 “S” mint mark half dollar for $9 to $13.50. For higher grades, you can expect a price of up to $95. However, if there is an uncirculated or mint state coin (MS-70), the value can be $1,800 or more.

1953 “D” Mint Mark Half Dollar

1953 “D” Mint Mark Half Dollar

  • Type: Franklin Half Dollar
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Mint Mark: D
  • Place of Minting: Denver
  • Year of Minting: 1953
  • Face Value: $0.50
  • Price: $9 to $22,000+
  • Quantity Produced: 20,900,400
  • Designer: John R. Sinnock
  • Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
  • Mass: 50 g
  • Diameter: 30 mm

The Denver mint produced the most 1953 half dollar coins. Its total count equaled 20,900,400, which makes this variety quite common and popular amongst collectors. While you can find this type easily, you can not find it in good condition.

So, collectors are likely to pay way more than other 1953 half dollar varieties. For example, the highest value of mint state 1953 no mint mark coin is $4.600. But, an uncirculated or mint state half dollar (MS-67) values between $14, 250 to $22,000.

However, an average condition “D” mint mark coin has a lot of wear. The lack of details, luster and flattened portrait of Franklin lowers the coin value to $9. The maximum you can get for a great-condition coin is $23.

The identification of this 1953 half dollar coin type is the small D on the back side. Just like other varieties, you will find the letter D embossed on top of the liberty bell to represent Denver. Since this coin is usually very much damaged, the D might not be quite visible.

Our best advice is to use a magnifying glass to evaluate the coin properly.

1953 Half Dollar History

The 1953 half dollar coin belongs to the Franklin series and is often referred to as the 1953 Franklin half dollar. It features the portrait of Benjamin Franklin, who is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

You can see the word LIBERTY embossed on top of his head, and the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST below him on the front side of the coin. This further lays emphasis on the great works of Franklin for the nation.

On the reverse side, there is the notable liberty bell with a crack. There is also a small eagle on the right and the Latin phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM on the left. This is a well-thought design by chief engraver John R. Sinnock.

He was instructed by Nellie Tayloe Ross (the mint director, who was inspired by Franklin and wanted his depiction on a coin) to create the designs. John used the sculpture of Jean Antoine Houdon as a model and began creating designs.

However, before he could finish, the chief engraver passed away in the year 1947. His works were carried on by Gilroy Roberts, who later became the ninth chief engraver. When the designs were shown to the Commission of Fine Arts, they issued a report.

The obverse design reflected Sinnock’s good workmanship. But they considered the eagle on the reverse to be too small and insignificant. They also disliked the crack lines on the liberty bell, which could invite puns and ridicule from the public.

After the disapproval, the Commission itself suggested a design competition. The results were sent to the Treasury Department as advisory recommendations. John W. Synder (treasury secretary) rejected them and approved Sinnock’s designs.

The US mint started production in the same year. Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver created the 1953 half dollar coins in limited numbers because the demand wasn’t so high. The total quantity minted was 27,974,020.

Interestingly, if you observe the coin design carefully, you will see that there are the letters JRS under Benjamin Franklin’s shoulder. The initials represent the original designer – John R. Sinnock.

But it led to a controversy that the US mint gave Joseph Stalin a tribute with the design. This was soon resolved because Joseph didn’t have a middle name with R.

1953 Half Dollar Grading

The value of a 1953 half dollar greatly depends on its condition. However, since each coin is in a unique condition, professionals use a standardized grading system to make value evaluation simple and easy.

For a 1953 half dollar, here are the most common grades:

  • Good: the coin is quite worn out, but the overall design is clearly visible.
  • Extremely Fine: the coin is slightly used. All the details are bold and fine.
  • MS-60: an uncirculated coin with no signs of wear. But the luster has faded.
  • MS-65: an uncirculated coin with great shine, high-quality strike, and negligible contact blemishes.
  • MS-70: an uncirculated coin is in its perfect state. It has an exceptional shine, strike, and overall appeal.

Check out this useful video on 1953 half dollar grading for better insights!

1953 Half Dollar Errors

In coin production, errors happen all the time. It might be because of old machinery, malfunctions, or wrong control settings. In any case, the errors are what produce the highly sought-after rarities.

The 1953 half dollar coin is no exception. There are two prominent errors that you should look for:

1. 1953 FBL Franklin Half Dollar

1953 FBL Franklin Half Dollar

FBL stands for Full Bell Lines. Although this error is more common in the half dollars of other years, it also exists in the 1953 production.

These coins have the best, highest-quality strike. You will find complete details on the coin, especially on the liberty bell. The horizontal lines on the base will be full and clearly visible, which only a few business strikes possess.

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) classifies 1953 FBL half dollars as the ones that reflect the epitome of quality. There should be a full separation of horizontal lines at the bottom of the bell, and the coin grade must be MS-60.

Any disturbance in the lines will disqualify the coin as a rarity. The 1953 FBL half dollar coins are typically very hard-to-find and highly valuable. In 2001, a rare 1953 “S” Full Bell Lines Franklin Half Dollar was auctioned at $69,000.

2. 1953 Bugs Bunny Half Dollar

1953 Bugs Bunny Half Dollar

This rare coin type has been named after the famous Looney Tunes rabbit named Bugs Bunny, and well, for all the right reasons. The rabbit has buck teeth (large front teeth that project over the lower lip).

Of course – the term Bugs Bunny is not the official name for the coin. It is a nickname and slang term commonly used by collectors. People gave it this name because of Franklin’s resemblance to the cartoon bunny.

On a 1953 Bugs Bunny half dollar, a line projects from Franklin’s upper teeth that makes it seem like he has buck teeth. This error happened due to a die clash (when opposing dies hit each other without something in between them).

The die clash causes the design of the reverse side to be transferred to the obverse side. In the case of the Franklin half dollar, the eagle wings left a line on Franklin’s teeth. You can find this error more common in the 1955 and 1956 half dollars.

However, although finding a 1953 Bugs Bunny half dollar is rare, it’s not impossible. In 2021, a 1953 Bugs Bunny half dollar of the regular strike was auctioned at $189. Higher-grade coins can be sold for $250+.

1953 Half Dollar FAQs

Is a 1953 half dollar made of silver?

Yes, a 1953 half dollar is made of silver. Almost 90% of the coin is silver, with 0.3617 troy oz (11.25 grams) of 0.999 pure silver. This composition gives the half dollar great melt value.

How can you tell if a half dollar is rare?

Half dollars in pristine condition (proof coins) are considered to be rare and valuable. However, there are also rarities like FBL Franklin half dollars and Bugs Bunny half dollars. These coins have defects, which makes them unique and high-interest items for collectors.

What years of half dollars are worth money?

Almost all vintage and antique half dollars are worth a lot of money. However, the 1838 half dollars are the rarest and most valuable ones. There were only two surviving specimens that were auctioned for $632,500 in 2005 and 2008.

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