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    

1943-d Walking Liberty Half Pcgs Ms65 Rainbow Toned~colorful Toning~rattler~oghRoll 1937 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1943-d Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 66 ** Sensational Walker!1916-s Silver Walking Liberty Half! Free Shipping!1937 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Graded Pr65 In Pcgs Holder1916 S Walking Liberty Half Dollar United States Silver Coin No Reserve1923-s Better Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Xf-40, Nice(estatesale Is Now Dkrc1921 D Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Coin Lowest Mintage Rare1921-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar No Reserve Auction1936 Long Island Tercentenary Half Boldly Toned Estate Coin No ReserveRoll 1936-s Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/buRoll (20) Of Walking Liberty Silver Half-dollars1921-s Silver Walking Liberty Half! Free Shipping!Roll 1946 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1941 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1946-s Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Ms 66 Pcgs/cac1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar 501946-d Ngc Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ngc Ms 66 ** Free Shipping!1944 Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Money Clip~uncirculated~ Bu1916-d Liberty Walking Half Nice ConditionGenuine Obw 1963 Original Sealed Nf String Franklin Walking Liberty Box 50 RollsLot Of (100) Walking Liberty Half Dollars - $50 Face Value 90% Silver 43.3 OzsRoll 1941-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 64 Pq Nice Old Collection Rare #6011916-d Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Vf-25, Nice Original (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)Lot Of 20 1935-1947 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Coins - 7.234 Oz $10 Face1944-s Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 64 ** Vibrant Silver Surfaces!1936-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1918-s Silver Walking Liberty Half! Free Shipping!1919 Silver Walking Liberty Half! Free Shipping!Roll 1944 Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem Bu1946-d Walking Liberty Half Pcgs Ms66 Cac Mostly White Surfaces~gem Mint~1943 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms-66 Stunning Luster Old Green Holder1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Proof, Low Mintage ** Stunning Walker Proof!1926-s Standing Liberty Quarter Dollar: Blast White-lusterous Smooth Surfaces!!!1942 Walking Liberty 50 Cents Exceptional Uncirculated» 1921-p « Liberty Walking Half Dollar 501941 Walking Liberty 50 Cents Outstanding UncirculatedRoll 1941-s Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuUsa 90% Silver U.s. Coin Collection Liberty Walking Half Dollars $20.00 Face 1916 - S Walking Liberity Silver Half Dollar - Xf Condition - 1st Year Rare1.4 Oz.999 Pure Silver 1929 Wl 45 90th Anniversary Harley Davidson Proof Bar.1921 D Silver Liberty Walking Half Dollar - Key Date - Lowest Mintage - 208k1943-s 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64 No Reserve Auction1917 Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Lustrous***great Eye Appeal No Reserve!1939 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Lightly Toned Mostly White~uncirculated~ Bu1935-d Silver Walking Liberty Half! Free Shipping!1941 Walking Liberty Half Dollar ~ Ngc Ms64 ~ Stunning Luster! #0401939 Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollars Uncirculated Roll 1947 Walking Liberty Silver Halves... Ch/gem BuUsa 90% Silver U.s. Coin Collection Liberty Walking Half Dollars $20.00 Face 1939 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Proof Pr 64 Pcgs - 50c Roll 1942 Walking Liberty Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1936-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 65 Nice Old Collection Rare #499Rare 1921-d Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar €Us 90% Silver 14-coin Lot (1893-1939) Mercury Dime Barber Quarter Walking Half*jcr_m* United States Half Dollar 1924 Huguenot Silver *unc* Free Shipping1943 Walking Liberty 50 Cents Outstanding Uncirculated(6) Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollar Coins 1935-1945 Highly Collectible S1916-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar - Good Details