US Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coins

Prior to the United States’s involvement in World War I, the U.S. Treasury determined that three of its circulating coins—the dime, quarter, and half dollar—were in need of a new, more modern look. In 1915, Mint director Robert Woolley invited three New York City sculptors to submit designs to replace the ones created in 1892 by Mint engraver Charles Barber.

A German immigrant named Adolph Alexander Weinman was awarded the designs for two out of three of the coins, the Mercury dime and the Walking Liberty half dollar, both of which were first minted in 1916. Weinman had developed his sense of artistry from non other than Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose 1907 Double Eagle is considered by many to be the most beautiful U.S. coin ever minted.

The Walking Liberty coin, which went through as many as seven revisions, depicted Lady Liberty wrapped in an American flag and walking towards a rising, radiating sun. The direction of her gait, east, was no accident; Europe, which was in the throws of war, is east of the United States, so Liberty’s positioning on the coin could be seen as solidarity with, if not yet outright support for, the old country.

In her left arm, Liberty carried oak and laurel branches, which are symbols of strength and peace respectively. The reverse featured a stern eagle perched on a rock, its wings outstretched and a pine bough in one of its talons. Half dollars were minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Those minted in 1916 and some in 1917 placed the local mintmark (D for Denver, S for San Francisco, but nothing for Philadelphia, as was the practice) on the obverse below “In God We Trust”; subsequent coins had the mintmark on the reverse. Weinman’s initials, AW, were also on the reverse, under the tips of the eagle’s left wing.

Despite the beauty of its design, which was widely admired, the Walking Liberty half dollar was beset by technical problems. A variety of small modifications were made over the years, including changes to Lady Liberty’s garments and alterations to the sun's rays. Among the engravers who worked on the coin was John S. Sinnock, who is credited with the design for the Franklin half dollar in 1948. Even with these modifications, though, many of these coins have defects, the most common of which is poor striking of Lady Liberty’s head.

During the coin’s lifetime, almost half a billion “Walkers,” as they are sometimes called, were circulated in 65 date-mint combinations. Years with particularly low mintages include 1919, when less than four million coins were struck, and 1921, when barely more than one million coins were produced.

In 1947, Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollars were replaced by Sinnock’s Franklins, but the design was so beloved that in 1986 it was reused for the American Silver Eagle one-ounce bullion coin; it continues to be used for this purpose today.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Original Obw Bank Wrapped Half-dollar Roll Gem Bu Franklin & Walking LibertyOriginal Obw Bank Wrapped Half-dollar Roll Superb Gem Bu D-mint FranklinOriginal Obw Bank Wrapped Half-dollar Roll 1919 Walking Liberty & Franklin1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Seldom Seen In Ms Conditions, ** Free S/h!100 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars1921 P 50c Pcgs Au Details, Rare High Grade Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Silver1918-d Walking Liberty 50 Cents Nice UncirculatedRoll 1941 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuComplete 65pc Set 1916-1947 P//d/s Walking Liberty 50c - Library Of Coins Album1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollar P,d,s (no 1921-d) Lot Of Brilliant UncComplete Walking Liberty Silver Half Set 1941-1947.. Gem Bu(1940-1945) 12 Walking Liberty Halfs Lustrous Bu Beauties All No Reserve1917 Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Au-58, Stunning Quality David Kahn Rare Coins1937-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50¢- Choice Bu1935-s Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65 ** Ultra Rare This High Ms!1921 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c Anacs Vg 101917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Grand Eye-appeal, Tough This Nice, ** Free S/h1934-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Swirling Mint Luster, ** Free Shipping!Walking Liberty Half Dollars Silver Coins 3 Rolls Of 20 = 60 Coins1942 Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs & Cac Pr66 Certified & Graded46 Silver Half Dollars Liberty Walking Coins Money $23.00 Rounds Boullion Scrap1937-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1940-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Choice Bu++ ~ Radiant Luster! * Free ShippingLot Of 116 Walking Liberty Half Dollars United States Coins 90% SilverCollection Of 36 Half Dollars – Lots Of Silver – Walking Liberty, Franklin, KenRoll 1946 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1921-s 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Vg10 **better Date**1916-1936 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Album 30 Piece Silver 50c Set1917-p Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c - Ngc Ms63 Certified & Graded 1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Uncirculated1938 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Uncirculated1937-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Beautiful Swirling Mint Luster, ** Free S/h!Uncirculated 1935 Philadelphia Mint Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!Roll 1942-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuLiberty Walking Half Dollar Complete Set Lot 1916-1936 W/ Whitman Folder1944-s Pcgs Ms65 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1917 Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65 ** Hard To Find This Nice!1921-p Pcgs Vg08 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Tough Denver Issue, ** Free Shipping!1921 P & S Us 90% Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollars Spl 1920-d Vf30 Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar - Free ShippingCac 1944 50c Pcgs Ms 65 Ogh Walking Liberty Half Dollar Old Green Holder Cac1917 Walking Half Dollar Ngc Ms 621916-d Pcgs F12 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1938 Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 64 ** Pursued Old Green Rattler!1921-s Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c Anacs Vg10 1945-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Pcgs Ms 64. 1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar1935 Walking Liberty Half Silver Dollar Coin Beautiful Piece Name Your Price !!Liberty Walking 1917 Half Dollar*** 1938-d *** (20) 1 Full Roll " Key Date " F Fine Walking Liberty Half Dollars1935-s Ms64 Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar - Free ShippingLot Of 20 Coins Walking Liberty Half Dollar & Franklin Half Dollares See Picture1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar Full Mint Luster Scarce This Nice Series Bulk Lot Of $5 Face Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollars 10 Coins Junk Silver1934 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Uncirculated1919-p Pcgs F15 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1946-d Liberty Walking Half Dollar Ngc Ms 65 - A BeautyLiberty Walking 1938 And 1938 D Half DollarsCirculated 1935-s San Francisco Mint Silver Walking Liberty Half Free Shipping!