Ben Franklin Half Dollar – Did You Know?

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On January 7, 1948, the US Mint announced plans for the new half dollar with the icons of Benjamin Franklin’s portrait on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse.

In their 1948 press release, the US Mint officials commented, “Ben Franklin was many things to many men, but he never lost an opportunity to preach the virtues of thrift. His face on the new half dollar will serve as a potent reminder, so the Secretary hopes, that thrifty financial management is as important to individuals and to society today as it was in Franklin’s time. Specifically, the Secretary thinks it will remind everyone that an excellent thing to do with spare half dollars and other spare coins these days is to buy savings bonds and stamps.”

Did you know that the Franklin Half Dollar was supposed to be a reminder for saving money and for helping the government with savings bonds? Don’t you find that interesting especially when so many people today, who are used to spending more than they make, find it challenging to pay their bills with less or no pay each month.

Though the Second World War had ended, the 1948 American populace struggled with changing from a war-based economy back to a domestic focused economy. Plus, the workforce changed. As men returned from their military service, many women who worked during the war were forced to quit their jobs though some chose to quit as well. 1948 also began a recessionary period in our economic history.

In July 2009, an article in the Wall Street Journal claimed, “The average length of official unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks, the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948. The number of long-term unemployed (i.e., for 27 weeks or more) has now jumped to 4.4 million, an all-time high.”

Hmmm….wonder what other parallels could be made between now and when the Ben Franklin half dollar was introduced?

Should we bring back good ol’ Ben on a coin to help remind people that thrift and saving can be virtuous? Oh, but wait, we already have Ben Franklin on the $100 bill. With the current cost of goods and with people not circulating the large (half dollar and dollar) coins, perhaps using coinage as the reminder won’t work today.

But, we can use the elements of this story to help teach young people the fundamentals of saving.

A survey of high school students from 1999 determined, ” Although two out of three students say they should know more about money management, only one out of five have taken a personal finance course in school.”

Yes, the survey is more than 10 years old, but with all of the difficulty people have paying their bills today, has the financial education of children, young adults and people in the workforce really improved?

Do people save? Or do they, as Zig Ziglar suggested in his book Over the Top, “trade what they want most for what they want today?” 

Ben Franklin on the half dollar and on the $100 bill should be a reminder of thrifty and saving ways.

And just think, those Benjamin Franklin half dollars contain 90% silver. The Franklin half dollars in the higher grades have numismatic value, but even the lower grades retain, at a minimum, their silver commodity value.

In recent years, many people spent beyond their means. With the current economy, both lack of saving and the accumulated debts burden our society.

Perhaps a nice Benjamin Franklin half dollar could begin a wonderful financial education for someone you know – maybe even yourself!

Today’s post brought to by:$25 off orders over $100 or more!