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Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Walking Liberty Half Dollar


The Walking Liberty Half Dollar, also known to collectors as the "walker", is considered among the most beautiful of U.S. coins. Spanning the two World Wars, The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was produced by all three mints - Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco - from 1916 to 1947. What's great about the walker is that collecting the entire series is possible without taking out a second mortgage. Even most of the rare dates can be purchased in lower grades for reasonable prices.

History of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar
In late 1915 the Fine Arts Commission held a closed competition to replace the half dollar, quarter dollar, and dime. They invited Adolph Weinman, Hermon MacNeil and Albin Polasek to submit designs. By February 1916, the commission decided to use the full designs by Adolph A. Weinman for the half dollar and dime; and his reverse design for the quarter (Hermon MacNeil's design was selected for the obverse of the quarter).

Like Buffalo Nickel designer James Earle Fraser, Adolph Weinman was also a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, creator of the Saint-Gaudens Twenty Dollar and Indian Head Ten Dollar. Weinman's walking liberty design, bears stylistic similarities to the French "sower" which was introduced two decades prior to the walker. But the U.S. version of Lady Liberty wears the American flag as she strides in freedom toward a rising sun. The reverse features an American eagle perched on a mountain top.

How can you tell which mint your coin came from?
Walking Liberty Halves minted in Denver have a D mint mark, and Walking Liberty Halves minted in San Francisco have an S mint mark. Coins minted in Philadelphia don't have a mint mark. The mint mark for the Walking Liberty Half was originally located for on obverse under "In God We Trust", but it was moved mid-production in 1917 to the reverse at the lower left, near the rim. The mint mark remained on the reverse for the remaining years of its production.

Least Expensive Walking Liberty Half Dollars
The most common Walking Liberty Halves are those that were minted from 1941 through 1946, with the exception of the 1946 Denver and San Francisco coins. The 1917 and 1936 Philadelphia coins are also quite common.

Most Expensive Walking Liberty Half Dollars
1921 saw the lowest mintage numbers from all three mints. The 1921 San Francisco coins are particularly valuable. The 1916 and 1938 coins from Denver also have low mintage numbers, and so do the 1916 Philadelphia coins. 1917 coins with obverse mint marks are also less common, and the 1917S coin in particular is very valuable.

The Reissue Bullion Coins
In 1986, obverse design of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar was reintroduced on the U.S. silver bullion coin. Bullion coins are typically purchased for their gold content rather than as a collectible. The bullion walkers have a face value of One Dollar, and contain one ounce of pure silver. Unfortunately, only the obverse was used for the bullion coin. The reverse has a modern, and somewhat bland design.

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Walking Liberty Half Dollar The reverse of the The Walking Liberty Half Dollar features an American eagle perched on a mountain top.

Walking Liberty Half Dollar Even with the adjustment in size, the obvers design of the new silver bullion coin (right) look just as good as the original (left).

Walking Liberty Half Dollar The reverse of the new silver bullion coin (right) is somewhat bland, and lacks the classic look of the original half dollar (left).

Walking Sower France The Walking Liberty Half Dollar bears stylistic similarities to the French "sower" designed which was created by Oscar Roty in 1897. It is is shown here on a French 5 Franc coin.