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    

Lot Of 22 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars 1917-1942Complete Walking Liberty Silver Half Set 1941-1947.. Gem Bu1934-s Walking Liberty 50 Cents Outstanding UncirculatedFive Rolls Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/betterRoll 1941 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll Of 20 ($10 Face Value) Liberty Walking Half Dollars 90% Silver Wr02Us Walking Liberty Half Dollar Set 1916 - 1935 Complete1916 Walking Liberty 50 Cents Outstanding UncirculatedRoll 1936 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuSilver Walking Liberty Halves....2 Rolls....5 Days1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coin1916-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Obverse Mintmark ** First Year Minted!1916s Walking Liberty Half Dollar1917-s (obverse) Walking Liberty Half Dollar In Very FineRoll 1941-s Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1944 Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem Bu1916-1936 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Album 32 Piece Silver 50c Set*no Reserve!1916-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Low Mintage Uncirculated Bu Blast White!1934-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Beautiful Choice Bu W/ Swirling Mint Luster!Roll 1942 Walking Liberty Silver Bu1917 Walking Liberty 50 Cents Outstanding Uncirculated1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar In Very FinePcgs 50c Walking Liberty 1942 Ms64 Ddr Fs-009 Pcgs Pop Only10 Price $225 St 99c1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar In Fine To Very Fine1919-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar In Very Fine1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coin1921 S Walking Liberty Half Dollar~low Mintage~key Date~1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar~low Mintage~key Date~1942 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Pf 66 Ngc & Cac 1921-d Walking Liberty Reserve!1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar CoinBulk Lot Of $5 Face Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollars 10 Coins Junk Silver1946-d Walking Liberty *ngc* & Cac Ms-66 Oh Super Bright And Very Clean !!(8) Us Standing Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollars 50 Cents Coins 1942-4510 Select+/choice B.u "1/2 Roll" Walking Liberty Half Dollars1935-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!Very Attractive 1917-s R Walking Half - Pcgs Au Details - Questionable Color?1921-d Us Liberty Walking Half DollarLot Of 4 Walking Liberty Half Dollars All Au 1934, 1937, 1938, 19391921 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar1935-s Full Head Ms++++++ Walking Liberty Half Dollar From Big Collection$10 Face Value Walking Liberty Half Dollars 90% Silver No Date 20-coin Roll (cirFull Roll Of Higher Grade Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars1944-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar * Pcgs Ms66 * Free Shipping1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar Scarce This Nice Series Key Date Lot Of 10 Walking Liberty Half Dollars - 90% SilverUncirculated 1934 Philadelphia Mint Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!1947-d Ngc Ms64 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!Lot Of 20 Au/au+ Walking Liberty Half Dollars 1937 - 1947 90% Silver Coin1947-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar * Pcgs Ms66 * Free Shipping1941 - 1947 Complete Set Of Walking Liberty Half Dollars In Old Whitman Album1946-s Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar * Pcgs Ms66 * Free ShippingLot Of 10 Walking Liberty Half Dollars Half Roll Better Dates 1919-d + More1947 50c Walking Liberty Pcgs Ms65 Half Dollar~bright White Luster!1928-s Better Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Xf-40 David Kahn Rare Coins1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Pq Gem Mint Luster! ** Free Shipping!Lot Of 5 Au Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars High Ef To Almost Uncirculated1938 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c **bu** Us Coin "rare Beauty" !!!!!1941 Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64 *hucky* 1916-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Obverse Mintmark ** Free Shipping!