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    

1919-d Semi-key Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Xf-40 David Kahn Rare CoinsComplete Walking Liberty Silver Half Set 1941-1947.. Gem Bu1918 Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Au-50, Choice & Crusty David Kahn Rare CoinsPcgs 1917 Au58 Us Walking Liberty Half Dollar1933-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Scarce Key Date In Ms Conditions, * Free S/h1919 Better Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Vf-35, Choice David Kahn Rare Coins1917-s Reverse Pcgs Xf40 Walking Liberty Half Dollar - No ReserveToned 1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Pr 65 ~ Proof 50c Beautiful Toning!1916 S Walking Liberty Half Dollar * Ch/gem Bu * No Reserve *Roll 1942 Walking Liberty Silver BuFive Rolls Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/betterRoll (20 Coins) Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/betterRare 5 Coin 1938 Proof Set W/ Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Mercury Dime !1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Avidly Pursued Early Issue! ** Free Shipping!Key Date 1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar! Fine+1947-d Silver Walking Liberty Half Circulated Free Shipping!1921 D Liberty Walking Half Dollar ~ Ngc F15 ~ Key Date ~ A Real Nice Coin**full Date ** 1921-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar, Key Date Free S/h !1921 Silver Walking Liberty Half Free Shipping!1916-s Liberty Walking Half Dollar 1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar ( 50 Cents ) Very Fine Key! Rare Grade!!1916-d Liberty Walking Half Dollar ~ Key Date1916-d U.s. Liberty Walking Half Dollar7 Rolls 90% Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollars $70 Face Value 140 CoinsLiberty Walking Half Dollars Complete Set8 Key Date Walking Liberty Half Dollars-16-p-16-s-16-d-19-p-19-s-19-d-21-s-38-dRare 5 Coin 1939 Proof Set P W/ Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Mercury Dime!1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf-20, Original David Kahn Rare Coins1929-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Better Date! ** Free Shipping!Bulk Lot Of $5 Face Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollars 10 Coins Junk SilverWalking Liberty Half 1945 D Pcgs Ms 65 Monster Target Toner! Red! Rare Beauty(6) High Grade Walking Liberty Half Dollars Au/uncirculated 1941 D 42 Silver 50c1938 D Walking Liberty Silver Half DollarUncirculated 1940-s San Francisco Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!Roll 1947 Walking Liberty Silver Halves... Ch/gem BuRoll 1945-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1945 Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem Bu1936 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Rare Choice Gem Proof, Low Mintage!1920-s Walking Liberty 50 Cents UncirculatedItem 31: $10 Roll Of Walking Liberty Half Dollars (20 Coins) Silver!!!1943 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms 66 (wr)1944 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64 Cac Monster Toner!!!1921-d Fine Perfecto Walking Liberty Half Dollar Nice Devices Lbzz1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Super Scarce Key Date! ** Free ShippingPcgs 1937 Ms64 Us Walking Liberty Half Dollar1937-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Nice Better Date! ** Free Shipping!High Grade 1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Key Date!!1921 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Cir1942 Walking Liberty "scarce" Half Dollar Pr-66 Pcgs Graded1942 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Proof. Pcgs Pr63. Nice Coin!1938 Walking Liberty Half Dollarngc Pf 65 Some ToningAlmost Full Set Walking Liberties-1916-1947-62 Coins-missing-1921,1921-d&1938-d1943 D Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c Ms65, No Reserve!!!1939-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Beautiful Mint Luster! ** Free Shipping!1938-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Nice!Uncirculated 1940 Philadelphia Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!1938 D Walking Liberty Half DollarLot Of Vintage Liberty Half Dollars (1921, 1942, 1944) Lot #21916 P Walking Lib Liberty Half First Year Of Issue No Reserve #01227129zCoin Collection Silver Kennedy Half Dollar Walking Liberty No Reserve Wheat