Full Bell Lines (Buy on eBay) is a grading designation used for the Franklin Half Dollar series. It refers to the horizontal lines running across the lower portion of the Liberty Bell on the reverse of the coin. Franklin Half Dollars exhibiting Full Bell Lines will display uninterrupted lines, generally indicative of a fully struck coin. In many cases, coins receiving the designation will sell for many multiples of the price of a coin without it.
Third party grading services PCGS and NGC both evaluate Franklin Half Dollars for the Full Bell Lines designation. Coins which meet the criteria will have the abbreviation “FBL” after the numerical grade. In order to receive the designation, PCGS requires the coins to exhibit complete, uninterrupted lower lines on the Liberty Bell. NGC has a higher standard for the designation, requiring all six lines (upper and lower sets) to be fully visible.
In general, the grading services will allow a few marks across the lines as long as they do not disturb the continuity of the lines. Slight incompleteness is also generally allowed just to the left or right of the vertical crack in the Liberty Bell within a measure of 1/64 of an inch.
Certain dates are rarely encountered with Full Bell Lines. Most notably, the San Francisco Mint coins after 1949 are typically softly struck without the detail necessary to achieve Full Bell Lines. A major strike rarity exists for the 1953-S Franklin Half Dollar, which is almost never found with the designation. Other challenging coins to find in gem grade with Full Bell Lines include the 1961, 1962, and 1963 Philadelphia issues.