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-s Walking Liberty Half Ngc Ms63 Rainbow Toned ~colorful Toning~color1916 - 1947 U.s. Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Complete Set Including Keys!1919-s Very Tough Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Au-53 (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)1921-d Liberty Walking Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Vf20 *no Reserve!1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar (unc Details) Ngc Looks Nice!!!!1921d Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1921 D - The Key - Old Cleaning - Cc1Roll 1940 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1917-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Obverse Mint Mark, * Scarce * Free Shipping!1945-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66+ Cac Bright White 1935-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Rare Key Date, ** Free Shipping!1916-d 50c Liberty Walking Half Dollar Ef45/xf45 Details Does Not Look Cleaned1916-1947 P,d,s Liberty Walking Half Dollar Set "vg-au++"90% Silver Coin Lot Of Walking Liberty Halves1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar--very Nice Good/very Good1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50Roll 1946 Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1921-d Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Good 61939-s 50c Pcgs/cac Ms66 Walking Liberty Half Dollar - No Reserve!1921d Walking Liberty Half Dollar1934 Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1946 Walking Liberty Unc Silver 50Roll 1939-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Au/bu1938 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66 --- Beautiful Bright White Gem! 1942-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ms64+ Pcgs.gem Looks 65or661937-47 Walking Liberty Half Dollar~ Set Of 30 Coins Including Rare 1938-dLiberty Walking Half Dollar Book 50c 1916-1936 Incomplete (26 Coins)*no Reserve!Roll Of 40 Washington Quarters 1964 D Nice Roll, Very Original1918-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Well Sought After! ** Free Shipping!1917-d Obv Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Grade Vg1946-d Pcgs Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Cac Certified, Pcgs Ms 65 ** Free Shipp1945-d 50c Ngc/cac Ms66 Walking Liberty Half Dollar - No Reserve!1934-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar (high Mint State)Lot Of (5) 1916-d Walking Liberty Half Dollars1938-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar1921-p Nice Grade "better Date" Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1929-s Silver Walking Liberty Half! Free Shipping!1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c - Gem Unc Star - Amazing Eye Appeal - Nr!1920-s Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Grade F1935-d 50c Pcgs Ms65 Walking Liberty Half Dollar - No Reserve!1916-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Beautiful Key Date, ** Free Shipping!1942-s Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 641946-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50 Cent Coin Brilliant GemLot Of (5) 1916-d Walking Liberty Half Dollars1946 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Doubled Die Reverse, Pcgs Vf351934 P Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50 Cent Coin Brilliant Gem1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c - Original Roll - Gem - Raw - No Reserve!1938 D Walking Liberty Half Key Date Fine 90% Silver #8081 Glcw1919s Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1919 S - Higher Grade - Old Cleaning - Cc11919-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar ** Tough! ** Free Shipping!1946 P Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50 Cent Coin Brilliant Gem1916-1940 Liberty Walking Half Dollar Complete Collection1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Ms66 Beautiful Golden Champagne Toning! Walking Liberty Half Dollar Short Set 1937 - 1947 90% Silver Whitman FolderRoll Of 20 1942-p Liberty Walking Half Dollars "au-au++" *free S/h*1921 Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Good 61921-s Walking Liberty Half, 50 Cents - Ngc F-15 Fine 15 Key Date To SeriesWalking Liberty Half Dollar Set 1937-1947 Complete Including 1938d1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Key Date Excellent Coin! 1921 DPcgs Vg10 1919 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar (fifty Cents) Coin-nice Original!One (1) Unsearched Half Dollar Roll Walker Double Silver Ender