[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, Rick Tomaska. This information was originally published in 2002 in The Complete Guide to Franklin Half Dollars]
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Current Availability & Values
PROOF 60-64: The proof 1950 is arguably among the poorest quality proof U.S. half dollars released by the U.S. mint in the twentieth century. Glue spots, the use of overused dies, poor packaging, improper handling, all conspire to make high quality examples of this date extremely scarce or rare. Therefore, this is not a very desirable date in the lower proof grades. If one’s desire is to acquire a proof 63 or proof 64 grade coin, seek out a deep mirror example, struck from a relatively new die, rather than the typical shallow-mirrored example, the result of a proof coin being struck from an overused proof die.
PROOF 65-68: Attesting to the rarity of this issue in high grade proof – no 1950 has yet been graded in Proof 68 grade! Compare this record to any proof Walker – even the rarest issues in the proof Walking Liberty half series, the 1936 and 1937, have each had several examples graded in Proof 68.
Value: Proof 65 examples were commanding well over $1,000 in the heat of the market in 1989, and proof 66 examples were selling for over $2,000. Proof 65’s can currently be acquired for $300-$400, and proof 66’s for a couple hundred more! Considering their scarcity, and the current small premium these higher grade examples are commanding over proof 60-63 examples, the 1950 is a bargain at today’s levels. Deep mirrored proof 65’s are rarely encountered, and a tremendous value anywhere near current proof 65 levels, so having to pay a 50%-75% premium for a 1950 of this caliber would still represent excellent value, given the scarcity and eye-appeal of these coins over their shallow-mirrored counterparts. The few near-flawless proof 67’s to surface can currently be acquired at the levels proof 66’s were selling for in the late 1980’s – about $2,000-$3,000. Considering the rarity, a tremendous value!
PROOF 64-66 CAMEO: The key date in any grade of Cameo, the 1950 has always been extremely scarce in Proof 64 and higher grade Cameo. Over the past few years, the desire among collectors to fill this hole in their set has pulled nearly every outstanding example off the market. This date is even elusive in Proof 63 Cameo grade!
Value: Any attractive cameo 1950 is recommended. Certainly, a 1950 Proof 63 Cameo is a bargain in the $500-$700 range – as long as it is not heavily stained with glue. The few hairlines on the typical Proof 63 half are not nearly as distracting. Currently, Proof 64 and higher grade coins graded by PCGS have commanded a slightly greater premium than similarly graded NGC coins.
PROOF 67-68 CAMEO: To date, only 2 1950 Franklins have been graded in Cameo Proof 67. The 1950 is extremely rare in Proof 67 Cameo. No 1950 has been graded in Proof 68 – with or without cameo contrast!
Value: The handful of gem examples that have been on the market the past year were quickly gobbled up. Demand far exceeds the very limited supply of this rare key date. Proof 65 NGC cameos have been selling anywhere from $1,500-$4,000, and PCGS 65 cameos from $3,000-$7,000. A couple exceptional Proof 66 Cameos reportedly sold for as high as $15,000!
PROOF 64-66 PCGS DCAM/NGC ULTRA CAM: The glamour coin in any top 20th century proof collection!!! A deeply contrasted 1950 proof Franklin has always been extremely rare. Even back in the early 1980’s, well before the collecting of superb proof Franklins had acquired any popularity, deeply contrasted 1950 proof Franklin halves were almost never encountered. This author remembers handling at most 7 to 9 1950 proof Franklin halves which might be considered PCGS DCAM or NGC ULTRA CAM under the scrutiny of today’s grading standards, over the entire decade of the ‘80’s. Given this date’s penchant for hairlines, 5 to 7 of those coins would be less than Proof 65 grade today. All the superb gem examples, but one, have already been graded, and three are currently in NGC holders graded PF 65 Ultra Cameo. The finest 1950 currently resides in a PCGS holder, graded Proof 66 Deep Cameo! The coin ranks among the earliest strikes off die #5 pictured on page 35 in “Cameo And Brilliant Proof Coinage Of The 1950 To 1970 Era”. The example graded PR66DCAM by PCGS is superior to the picture coin in the cameo proof book. Handling the finest proof Franklin halves since 1981, this author has never seen another 1950 that can quite compare to this PR66DCAM. Despite the exponential increase in demand for the finest cameo proof Franklins since the early 1990’s, and the accompanying profit potential for any dealer or collector fortunate to stumble across a superb cameo 1950, no truly knockout pieces, with but one or two exceptions, have surfaced the past decade comparable to those few wonder ‘50’s from the 1980’s.
Value: A $10,000+ coin PR 64 DCAM! The few NGC PF 65 Ultra Cam 1950 Franklins graded have sold between $15,000 and $20,000. A couple of these sales sold several years ago. If those same coins would come on the market today, this author believes they could easily realize $25,000 or more.The lone PCGS PR66DCAM sold for over $80,000. A nice “chunk of change”! For comparison, this author was recently offered a 1919-D Walking Liberty half dollar in MS 65 for $100,000. PCGS has graded 8 of these coins in MS 65, and has graded one in MS 66.
PROOF 67-68 PCGS DCAM/NGC ULTRA CAM: Forget it! The only circumstance this author can imagine that might account for a 1950 Franklin in NGC PF 67 Ultra Cam or PCGS PR67DCAM would be if one of these services goofed and accidentally overgraded an example. The only example that might have any chance at this grade would be the example already graded PR66DCAM by PCGS. The coin is quite superb, with haze-free surfaces, and no glue stains. The few hairlines it does have are very light and minor in nature, and can only be detected under the scrutiny of a halogen light.
Value: The owners of the examples graded in gem Proof 65 “ULTRA”, breathtaking “black & white” cameos, are not selling at this time. An offer of $15,000 was reportedly tendered for one of these coins, and was rejected.
More elusive than ever, the truly superb proof ’50 Franklins are for the most part snugly tucked away in the top proof Franklin collections. Most of the examples that grade “Cameo” today fall into the lower end of the “Cameo” spectrum, and are not the deeply mirrored variety, with the near-snow-white frosted devices knowledgeable collectors yearn for.
Only a few examples have been graded in Ultra Cameo by NGC. All are Proof 65. The lone gem DCAM graded by PCGS is, surprisingly, a PR 66.
Any truly superb cameo 1950 is highly recommended. The finest examples simply do not get any cheaper! They are very, very rare, and are rarer now more than ever! Despite the tremendous growth in collector interest in this series the past 10+ years, only 1 or 2 superb examples of Ultra Cameo quality have surfaced during this period, attesting to the rarity of this date. The superb cameo 1950 Franklin is fast becoming known as a glamour issue in 20th century U.S. coinage. Many collectors desire one, few have the opportunity to even get to see one, let alone buy one!