The company -founded by Joseph Segel- started by marketing privately-minted gold and silver commemorative rounds and medallions, but quickly branched out into other collectibles. In the 1960s the price of silver rose, causing all silver coins to be removed from circulation. The Nevada casinos used silver dollars in their slot machines, which were soon worth more than a dollar. The Franklin Mint was one of the earliest and largest minters of replacement slot machine tokens.
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It minted in its own production facility numerous sets of coins-of-the-realm, theme-based medals and ingots, selling them on the subscription plan, with buyers getting a monthly shipment and invoice. Franklin Mint struck issues in all the different precious and semi-precious metals. American history and art masterpiece themes were predominant, with space and important persons and other topics also quite popular. Sets were often limited by the number of subscribers by a cut-off date, or a fixed mintage, resulting in "limited editions". Prices were fairly reasonable, compared to the cost of silver, and often tens of thousands of sets were sold. Custom wood cases, fancy packaging and certificates appealed to collectors, and the market boomed. However, silver prices climbed, making the cost of larger items high, and replacement bronze and pewter issues did not appeal to collectors as much.
From 1973 to 2000, the Franklin Mint had a division called the Franklin Library, which produced hundreds of editions of classic works of literature in fine bindings.
In 1983, and to much success, The Franklin Mint entered the die-cast car market with the 1935 Mercedes Benz 500K Roadster. In the following years, Franklin Mint produced numerous designs including the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, one of Franklin Mint's better-selling models. Collector knives, figurines, plates, Monopoly sets, chess sets and board games, plaques, coins, medals, and other collectibles have been issued over the years by The Franklin Mint.
The Franklin Mint was heavily reliant upon direct mail and media print ads for sales. Advertisements for Franklin Mint collectibles—including the Civil War Commemorative Chess Set among thousands of other items—were once ubiquitous in popular magazines.
Currently The Franklin Mint has divested itself of minting capacity, and has downsized, and is now mostly a producer/marketer of diecast models. On October 17, 2006 The Franklin Mint announced it was sold by Roll International Corp to a number of private investors including M. Moshe Malamud and Steven Sisskind, chairman and chief executive respectively from The Morgan Mint, and David Salzman, a Hollywood producer. The sale closed on August 31, 2006 and no price was announced. The new ownership plans to return Franklin Mint to its former market-leading status and offer the full lineup of collectibles including coins and medallics.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Franklin Mint price guide: sold listings for a value indication.