Most coinage designs right after World War II had been in place for years. The Walking Liberty Half Dollar had also been around since 1916. The Mint Director, Nellie Tayloe Ross, told US Mint Chief Engraver, John R. Sinnock, to prepare sketches for redesigning the Half Dollar and that the subject would be ‘Founding Father’ Benjamin Franklin.
Sinnock created the initial designs, but he died at age 58. So, the designs were completed by Sinnock’s successor Gilroy Roberts. The designs were as expected. The obverse had a depiction of Benjamin Franklin, facing right, with the motto “LIBERTY” above him. The date was tucked under Franklin’s chin and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was on the bottom edge, below Franklin.
The reverse of the coin featured the Liberty Bell with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surmounting Franklin, “HALF DOLLAR” was at the bottom. The legend “E PLURIBUS UNUM” was to the left of the bell and, in compliance with US regulations, a small eagle was placed to the right of the bell.
Sinnock wanted accuracy and the bell was displayed as it normally looked, the crack going right up the center of the bell, starting at the clapper. In January of 1948, the Treasury announced the new half dollar and Benjamin Franklin became only the fifth person and first person who wasn’t a President to appear on regular US coinage.
Virtually all dates are common and available in Almost Uncirculated grade at a slight premium to its bullion value, except the 1949-D, 1949-S, 1950-D, 1952-S, 1955 and 1961 Doubled Die Reverse Proof.