On January 7, 1948, the Treasury issued a press release announcing the new half dollar. The Commission’s disapproval went unreported; instead the release noted that the design had been Ross’s idea and had received Secretary Snyder’s “enthusiastic approval”. The release noted Franklin’s reputation for thrift, and expressed hope that the half dollar would serve as a reminder that spare cash should be used to purchase savings bonds and savings stamps. Franklin became the fifth person and first non-president to be honored by the issuance of a regular-issue US coin, after Lincoln, Roosevelt, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
In a speech given when she unveiled the design in January 1948, Ross indicated that she had been urged to put Franklin on the cent because of his association with the adage “a penny saved is a penny earned” (in Franklin’s original, “A penny saved is twopence dear”.) Ross stated, “You will agree, I believe, that the fifty-cent piece, being larger and of silver, lends itself much better to the production of an impressive effect.” On April 29, 1948, the day before the coin’s public release, Ross held a dinner party for 200 at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia; each guest received a Franklin half dollar in a card signed by Ross.
The new half dollars first went on sale at noon on April 30, 1948, the anniversary of George Washington’s 1789 inauguration as President. They were sold from a booth on the steps of the Sub-Treasury Building in New York, by employees of the Franklin Savings Bank dressed in Revolutionary-era garb.
The Roosevelt dime had been designed by Sinnock, and had provoked complaints by citizens viewing Sinnock’s initials “JS” on the coin as those of Joseph Stalin, placed there by some Kremlin infiltrator within the Mint. Even though Sinnock’s initials (placed on the cutoff of Franklin’s bust) were expressed “JRS”, the Mint still received similar complaints, to which they responded with what numismatic historian Walter Breen termed “outraged official denials”. According to The New York Times, “People wrote in demanding to know how the Bureau of the Mint had discovered that Joe Stalin had a middle name.” Another rumor was that the small “o” in “of” was an error, and that the coins would be recalled. This claim died more quickly than the Stalin rumor.
After the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Congress and the Mint moved with great speed to authorize and produce a half dollar in tribute to him. With the authorization of the Kennedy half dollar on December 30, 1963, the Franklin half dollar series came to an end. Breen reports rumors of 1964 Franklin half dollars, produced possibly as trial strikes to test 1964-dated dies, but none has ever come to light. A total of 465,814,455 Franklin half dollars were struck for circulation; in addition, 15,886,955 were struck in proof.
Article Source: en.wikipedia.org
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