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Have you ever heard of a Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollar?
To those who know of the famous Warner Brothers hare who has starred in countless cartoons since the late 1930s, the name may sound rather “looney.”
There’s a good reason that some Franklin half dollars are nicknamed Bugs Bunny half dollars!…
The Bugs Bunny (AKA Buck Tooth) Franklin Half Dollar Error Coin
So, what’s the story behind these interesting error varieties? And why are these coins considered scarce and valuable?
Well, this crazy-looking half dollar has been popular ever since it was discovered decades ago.
The Franklin half dollar, which ran from 1948 through 1963, has long been one of the most widely collected silver coins of the mid-20th century.
It’s a series that spanned only 16 years and didn’t include any truly rare key coins. Sure, any Franklin half dollar in high enough a grade is scarce as a conditional rarity — but there are no Franklin halves comparable in absolute rarity as, say, the 1909-S VDB Lincoln penny or 1916-D Mercury dime.
So, it’s understandable that, when a coin like the Bugs Bunny half dollar came around, it really got the numismatic world talking!
Now, these cool half dollars don’t actually have a picture of the grey-and-white hare who became famous for munching on carrots and asking, “What’s up, Doc?”
But, it might as well, because of the appearance of what looks like Bugs Bunny’s buck teeth on Benjamin Franklin — almost as if he were the “rascally rabbit” Bugs Bunny himself. (Well… Almost… Ben Franklin, on the coin, is missing the floppy ears or carrot stick in his mouth.)
Why Were These Error Coins Made?
They are the result of a die clash— which occurs when the obverse and reverse dies come together without a coin in between them. When this happens, each of the dies may transfer part of their designs to the other die.
In the case of the Bugs Bunny half dollar, a part of the eagle’s wings on the reverse die hit the obverse near Franklin’s upper lip. This caused the formation of a spike-shaped error there, resembling a large buck tooth.
Are Bugs Bunny Franklin Half Dollars Rare?
The Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollars are highly collectible!
The most popular ones are those dated 1955. This may be because the variety was discovered around that time and it was the 1955 Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollar that quickly rose to fame.
It was around this same time that the 1955 doubled die Lincoln penny was also discovered. Together, these two coins helped energize the hobby during a period when it was already gaining in popularity throughout the United States.
In the mid-1950s, Bugs Bunny was also at the height of his popularity — being that he had been featured in numerous movie shorts throughout the 1940s and ’50s and also had begun appearing on the newfangled medium of television.
This strange, whimsically named error coin variety certainly grabbed the interest of collectors, who began looking for more of these unusual coins.
While it’s possible to find the buck tooth error on any Franklin half dollar (dated 1948 through 1963), the variety is most widely known on just two dates:
- 1955 Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollar
- 1956 Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollar
Both are scarcer than the “regular” Franklin half dollars, though errors of either date are really not all that rare. Thousands are known to exist — although the 1955 Bugs Bunny Franklin half dollar is more frequently encountered than the 1956 issue.
How Much Are Bugs Bunny Franklin Half Dollars Worth?
While finding a Franklin half with the Bugs Bunny variety won’t make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, they are worth more than their normal counterparts.
Here’s a look at the 1955 and 1956 Bugs Bunny half dollar value in average circulated condition:
- 1955 Bugs Bunny Franklin Half Dollar — $25+
- 1956 Bugs Bunny Franklin Half Dollar — $30+
Uncirculated examples of either date are generally worth about $40 and up.
Circulated examples of normal 1955 and 1956 Franklin half dollars are worth closer to their silver melt values. When silver prices are $20 per ounce, that’s closer to $7 per coin. So, there is clearly a significant difference in value between the regular pieces and examples with the buck tooth variety!
3 Tips To Help You Find Buck Tooth Half Dollars
Since half dollars don’t really circulate anymore, you’re probably not going to find one of these Bugs Bunny error coins turn up in your next handful of pocket change. But that doesn’t mean you have to go to a coin dealer to buy one.
#1 – Look through bank rolls & boxes of half dollars.
Many collectors turn to bank rolls to search for valuable half dollars. Looking through rolls and boxes of half dollars from the bank is how many coin searchers find silver coins for face value. Many have plucked Franklin half dollars from coin rolls — proving that it’s totally possible to find a Bugs Bunny half dollar in this manner for face value!
#2 – Cherrypick them from a coin dealer.
Next time you visit your coin dealer, look through all the 1955 and 1956 Franklin half dollars you can find — even the ones in the junk silver bins. It’s very possible that your coin dealer may have overlooked this important but small die clash on the Franklin halves in their inventory. Therefore, it’s possible to cherrypick one of these coins for the price of a regular Franklin half dollar! In a similar fashion, you could also buy bags of pre-1965 90% silver coins. A lot of times, these silver bags contain Franklin half dollars — and on some of these coins you may be able to pick up undetected errors and varieties.
#3 – Don’t forget to check your own collection!
It’s very possible that you may already have a Bugs Bunny half dollar — you just don’t know it yet. It happens to coin collectors all the time. They hear about some new error or variety they didn’t previously know existed only to find one already resides in their own collection. BAM!
I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!