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    

1917-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Obv Mint Mark, Gorgeous Choice Bu++/near Gem1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Choice Au++/unc Better Date Walker! * Free S/h1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Key Date Walker, Details, ** Free Shipping!1916-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Tough Uncirculated++ Better Date, * Free S/h1940 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Proof, Impressive Superb Gem Pf++, Deep Mirrors1921-s Better Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs F15 Cac Pq+ David Kahn Rare Coins1918 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Ngc Ms65, Blazing White David Kahn Rare Coins1942 Pf64 (proof) Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ngc Certified - Very Nice !Lot Of 134 Walking Liberty Half Dollars United States Coins 90% Silver1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Pcgs Ms 63. Roll 1945 Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem BuRoll 1946 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1937 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Scarce Key Date, ** Free Shipping!90% Silver Liberty Half Dollars - Lot Of 100 - Random Dates1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Tough Early Issue! ** Free Shipping!1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Vg10Roll 1943 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1947 Walking Liberty Half Pcgs Ms65 Light Rainbow Toned Surfaces~gem~ogh1916s (obverse) San Francisco Mint Walking Liberty HalfComplete Set Of 1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c Walker Coin Fifty Cent1941-s Walking Liberty Half Pcgs Ms64 Lightly Toned Surfaces~near Gem~1919-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Tough Key Date Walker, ** Free Shipping!Roll 1941-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1938 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1941-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Solid Gem Bu++ Better Date Blazer!50c 1921-d Walking Libery Half, Good, Key Date! * AvenuecoinRare 1921-d Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar –grades "good" Uncirculated 1938 Philadelphia Mint Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!1916-s Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Vg08 Certified & Graded1938 Walking Liberty Half Silver Dollar Coin Pcgs Ms 64 Name Your Price !!Complete Short Set Walking Liberty Half Dollars 1941-1947 Circulated1921 Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollar G 6 NgcNgc Graded 1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ms62Roll 1944 Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem BuNgc Graded 1945-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ms641946-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ch/gem Bu 1941-s Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65+ ** Beautiful Better Date!1921-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar G 06 NgcRoll Of Walking Liberty Half Dollars *circulated* Mixed Dates1917-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Scarce Better Date Walker, ** Free Shipping!1921-p 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ngc G6 Liberty Standing Half Dollar Collection 1916 To 1936 Number One Whitman Book1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs G061945-s Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64 Toned1944-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Stunning Blast White Gem Bu! ** Free ShippinUncirculated 1941 Philadelphia Mint Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!Complete 1941 To 1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Collection In Dansco AlbumRoll (20) Liberty Walking Half Dollars 90% Silver (1918-1942) Lot D51916 S Obverse Vf Walking Liberty Half Dollar1945 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Bright White1944 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms 651/2 Roll (50c) 90% Silver Liberty Walking Half Dollar - Cull Coins Lot #au22b1942-s Silver Liberty Walking Half Dollar Ms 63 Ngc1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Xf 40 -1691916-s Obv Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50¢- Rare Key Date- Good1944-d + 1944-p Us Mint Walking Liberty Half Dollars $0.50 ~ Lot Of 2 1946-s 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ch/gem Bu 1946-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar1939 Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollar Coin #4358 $ Hi-grade$ Us Mint$rare