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To FBL or not to FBL, That is the Question?

6 posts in this topic

There has been and always will be I guess, questions arising from the true meaning of Full Bell Lines on Franklin Half Dollars. So, what is the real answer when it comes to whether or not your Franklin does indeed have FBL, even if it has been entombed by a certified grading company that designated as such, how do YOU know?


From "Ask NGC"

Question from Quest?

Why is PCGS's population of FBL's some much greater than NGC?

Does NGC consider FBL a variety or condition of the coin?


Response from Jay Turner

I cannot speak for population of another company. NGC’s standard for Full Bell Lines on a Franklin Half Dollar is that both the bottom and top Bell Lines need to be full. This may not and often is not the case with some other companies. Full Bell Line is a designation that is given at the same time as grading and is independent of grade.


Jay Turner NGC Grader and Attributor


#1585542 - 03/16/07 09:30 PM


From the PCGS-Lingo page

Full Bell Lines

Term applied to Franklin half dollars when the lower sets of bell lines are complete (FBL). Very slight disturbance of several lines is acceptable.


I fully agree with NCG when it comes to Full Bell Lines having to be just that, Fully Struck Bell lines....ALL of them not just the bottom three with no really big hits, nicks, dings across any of the lines. The only thing not mentioned is the strength of the bell lines when approaching the bell crack, that is, from the right or from the left. They can begin to fade 1/64 of an inch away from the bell crack and still maintain FBL status if all the other criteria has been met.


The culprit.



Full Bell Lines are tough to grade and be consistent even with some of the stronger struck coins. I think PCGS needs to tighten up their criteria on FBL designations to keep from watering down this variety...did PCGS relaxed the standards to attract more submitters or what?


Your views please.

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There's reality, and then there's commercial interest at play here. Let me give the cynical "commercial" version.


The reality is that except for a few issues, truly FULL bell lines are very rare. In fact, if PCGS and NGC only certified coins with complete, unbroken and fully delineated bell lines, easily 90% of so-designated slabs would be wrong.


But this also means that there would be many dates for which it would be impossible to collect a FBL example - because none exist! And therefore, that would pretty much eliminate the entirety of registry-set potential, and erase a lot of profit motive.


That's the last thing grading companies want.


Therefore, borderline coins, and even those which flat out don't qualify are given the FBL, just to make sure there are enough examples to entice registry set collecting. That way, the possibilty of completing such a set exists, and so there will be demand for the coins. If a complete set were not possible, then demand would vanish.


I don't necessarily care all that much, since I have never had a registry set and never will.


On a final note, it is pretty well known that NGC is much more stringent than PCGS on the "FBL" designation, and I personally believe they are more stringent handing out "FH" for Standing Liberty quarters as well, and about equal with "FSB" on Mercury dimes. Just my opinon from informal observation.

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In many regards it is a marketing gimmick, and particularly for 65's and higher you are looking at a SIGNIFICANT price differential. Once you learn about strike on frankies you will find plenty of nicely struck frankies that are not technically FBL because they are missing some minimal amount of line definition somewhere along the lines. Also, there are quite a few franklins that have FBL but are poorly struck on other portions of the coin. Finally, due to the wear of the master die, the definition of the details will vary from year to year, basically getting worse from 1948 to 1959, and then looking much better in '60-'63 due to a new master die (although this die has more poorly cut bell lines).



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Woody----- Very informative post----nice replies too. Thanks to all.


Walker Au58---as you know---just did a nice post on Franklins across the street which was also most revealing.


Would seem from reading James' reply----your thoughts on the Franklin FBL---what I know about Walker grading--- That NGC is somewhat the stricter grader. I find that to be pretty much as I have thought for quite some time now---at least as far as the Walkers are concerned.


After all of this, am looking more closely at Franklins. Maybe a little tangent worth the effort? Bob [supertooth]

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Link ATS questioning Franklins


As mentioned, there was a recent thread ATS dealing with Franklins. I usually don't import threads from ATS, but this particular one was pure numismatics and was very informative in regards to Franklin Half Dollars and wanted to share.


Thanks to those who have responed to these ongoing questions...maybe one day there will be uniformity in concensus & grading.

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