What do Bug Bunny, the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated characters, and Benjamin Franklin, the American polymathic writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and politician, have in common?
The two American figures would have very little in common if it weren’t for an error in the U.S. Mint that created the “Bugs Bunny” Franklin Half Dollar. The 1956 50C “Bugs Bunny” FS-401, which is part of the Franklin Half Dollar series from 1948 to 1963, was given this odd name after the eagle’s wings on the reverse side “impressed the obverse die in the region of Franklin’s mouth,” GR Coins reports. This odd error suggests buck teeth on poor old Franklin.
The coin, designed by John R. Sinnock, was minted in 1948, featuring a profile of Franklin on the front and the Liberty Bell on the reverse. The half dollar was immensely popular, despite Franklin styling the Bugs Bunny buck teeth, because it included patriotic images and Franklin. The coin caused a bit of controversy when it was first released in 1948 due to the initials JRS, which appeared on the coin at the cutoff of Franklin’s shoulder.
Some believed this was a tribute to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, but the U.S. Mint explained that the initials belonged to Sinnock. The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 led to the minting of the Kennedy Half Dollar, replacing the Franklin Half Dollar the following year.
Honoring one of America’s most renowned figures, the U.S. Department of Treasury placed Benjamin Franklin’s face on the $100 banknote. But why was he on the half-dollar? Then-mint director Nellie Tayloe Ross was an admirer of Franklin and simply wanted his likeness depicted on a coin (via JM Bullion).
What makes the “Bugs Bunny” half-dollar special is that multiple instances of this error happened between 1948 and 1963. The best examples of this “Bug Bunny” Franklin Half Dollar are the 1955 and 1956 coins. It was also around the time that Bugs Bunny became popular in American culture.
You might wonder, “How much is the ‘Bugs Bunny’ Franklin Half Dollar worth?”
Well, if you happen to find one of these error coins, then GR Coins says you might be able to get $5,000, depending on its condition (via GOBankingRates). The website does note that these coins are fairly rare, with only 48,200 coins produced. If you find a 1955 or 1956 “Bugs Bunny” Franklin Half Dollars in good condition, then you are only looking at $50 to $100 for the 1955 version or $65 to $130 for the 1956 version.
If you are a collector, the Franklin Half Dollar is a fantastic coin to have in your collection. The coin features a design of historical significance in the U.S. and features one of the most famous Americans. The coin’s 90% pure silver content with a striking reeded edge boosts its value far above any other, and its absence from production for over 50 years adds to its elusive charm.
Some of these coins are easy to come by, but the “Bugs Bunny” Franklin Half Dollar is a great coin to hunt for.