Walking Liberty Half-Dollars, 1916-1947

Walking Liberty Half-Dollars, 1916-1947

Designed by: Adolph A. Weinman

Issued Date: 1916-1947
Composition: 0.900 parts silver, 0.100 parts copper
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Weight: 192.9 grains
Edge: Reeded
Total Business strike mintage: 485,320,340
Total Proof strike mintage: 74,400

The design of the Walking Liberty Half, executed by Adolph Weinman, was part of a coinage renaissance in the U.S. which saw complete design changes in every coin series between 1907 and 1921. Weinman’s symbolic portrait of Liberty striding towards a new day is, to many collectors, the most aesthetically pleasing coin design ever produced in this country. Weinman’s use of a strong, bold eagle on the reverse helped to symbolize the strength and power our country displayed during this coin’s tenure. This design happens to have been adopted by the 1996-released American Eagle one-ounce silver coin.

The obverse depicts Miss Liberty walking toward the sun, her right arm outstretched, her left arm carrying a bundle of branches, and with a starry cape behind. LIBERTY is above, while IN GOD WE TRUST is to the lower right, and the date is below. The motif seems to have been inspired by Saint-Gauden’s motif for the illustrious double eagle of 1907. The reverse shows an eagle perched on a rocky crag, from which grows a pine branch, symbol of strength. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above, E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left, and HALF DOLLAR is below.

Nine separate issues of the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar had mintages of fewer than one million pieces. Coinage was sporadic between 1921 and 1934, with only five San Francisco Mint issues (1923, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1933), one Denver Mint issue (in 1929), and no Philadelphia Mint issues at all. Coinage was resumed on an annual basis from 1934 to 1947. While the branch mint issues of 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1923 are considered the keys to the series, it is extremely difficult to find fully struck ‘S’ mint coins of the early 1940’s, despite mintages which ran into the millions.

Specimens of the Walking Liberty half dollar are readily available for the type collector with those dated in the 1940s being most easily found. Grades available range from Good through superb Uncirculated, although sharply struck pieces are decidedly scarce. Proofs were minted from 1936 through 1942 and are available in proportion to the original mintages.

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