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    

1921-d Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Vf20 *no Reserve!Roll 1940 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Scarce Date Original Look, Vf+ Silver 50cRoll 1946 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuComplete Walking Liberty Silver Half Set 1941-1947.. Gem Bu90% Silver Coin Lot Of Walking Liberty Halves1929-d Walking Liberty 50 Cents Nice Uncirculated1935-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Rare Key Date, ** Free Shipping!1916-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Beautiful Key Date, ** Free Shipping!1921-d Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Good 6Roll 1939-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/bu1928-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Better Date Walker, ** Free Shipping!Roll 1941 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1938 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66 --- Beautiful Bright White Gem! 1941 Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollars .50 Walkers Unsearched Roll (20) Coins1935-d Full Head Ms+++++++ Walking Liberty Half Dollar From Big Collection1918-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Well Sought After! ** Free Shipping!1946 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Doubled Die Reverse, Pcgs Vf351937-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar ~ High Grade! Rare Key Date! ~ 50c-209Lot Of 3 Us 1941 Liberty Walking Half Dollars1916-1940 Liberty Walking Half Dollar Complete Collection1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Great Key Date ** Free Shipping!1938 - Walking Liberty Half Dollar - Ngc Ms 64Wow! 1939-s Walker 50c Pcgs Ms65! Free Shipping, Never Tax!!Choice Uncirculated 1917 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar ~ Nr!1921 S Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs G061916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Key Date First Year Issue!1947-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ch/gem Bu 1923-s Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollar F 12 Ngc.Roll 1942 Walking Liberty Silver Halves...ch/gem Bu1937 1947 Set Liberty Walking Half Dollars Lot Silver Coin 1938 D 30 Book Album1938 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ngc Ms 64 Key Date1919-d Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar***florida Lake Okeechobee Estate HoardWalking Liberty Coinage 1940 Half Dollar 1990 American Eagle Silver Dollar1945 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ch/gem BuRoll 1943-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu(20) 1943-s 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ch/gem Bu(20) 1941-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ch/gem1945-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 (no Reserve) Uncirculated 1939-s Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!1920-s Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollar Xf Details Ngc.1946-s 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms64 1947-d Walking Liberty Half Pcgs Ms64 1958-1963 Proof Franklin1936 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Lot Of 61940-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar ~ Bu Uncirculated ~ Stunning Luster! 50c-2151940 "p" Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pci Graded Ms64pq 95% White1937-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar ~ High Grade! Rare Key Date! ~ 50c-208Key Date 1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Fine ConditionFive Rolls Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/better$15.00 Face Liberty Walking Half Dollars 50c, Teens-30's, Various Years/mints1921-s Walking Liberty Half, 50 Cents - Ngc F-15 Fine 15 Key Date To Series1934-d Key Date Ms++++++ Walking Liberty Half Dollar From Big Collection1943-s 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 (no Reserve)1936 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms651921 Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Good 61937-d Full Head Ms+++++ Walking Liberty Half Dollar From Big Collection1942-s Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Ms64+ Certified & Graded*no ReserveLot: Ten (10) Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Coins - No Reserve1943 Pcgs Ms 65 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Silver 1938-d Walking Liberty 50 Cents About Uncirculated