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 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Avidly Pursued Vf+ Key Date, ** Free S/h!1916 S Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar1929-s Better Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Au58, Frosty! DavidkahnrarecoinsUncirculated $10 Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollar Roll Mixed Dates D/s Nr1929-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Nice Choice Au++ Tougher Date, ** Free S/h!1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Nice Near Gem Bu++ Better Date, ** Free S/h!1919 Walking Liberty Silver 50 Cents Near Choice Uncirculated Rare!!Great Auction Start 1 $ Very Interesting Lot Of 9 Silver World Coins , Usa Etc 1939-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar. Gem Bu++ Better Date **1916-1947 Complete Walking Liberty Half $ Set (no 1921-p Or 1921-d)-see Pictures1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Scarce Choice Au++ Better Date, ** Free S/h!1917-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Reverse Mm, Scarce Bu++ Key Date, Free S/h!1917-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Obverse Mintmark, Choice Vf++/xf Key Date1935 50c Silver Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 66 1916 D Walking Liberty Silver Half DollarLot Of (6) High Grade Walking Liberty Half Dollars Au-unc 1939 1941 D Silver 50c1920 Walking Liberty Silver 50 Cents Choice Uncirculated 1934 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar. Gem Bu++ Lustrous White CoinRoll 1945-s Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem BuMost Beautyful Coin In The World Gdr 20 Mark 1986 Grimm Fairy Tale Pcgspr67dcam1917 D On The Reverse Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar1920-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Au Nice Key Date1935-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50¢- Bu1917 D Obverse Walking Liberty Half Dollar Vf-xf1944 Walking Liberty Half Dollar - Bu Condition - 94saLot Of 4 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars-1923-s,1928-s,1929-s,&1929-d1917 D On The Obverse Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar1943 S 50c Pcgs Ms 65 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Gem Uncirculated Silver, OghTwo 1942-p Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars Unc Condition No Reserve1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coin Set Missing 1916,1916s,1919,1921dRoll 1941-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem BuRoll 1943-d Walking Liberty Silver Halves.. Ch/gem Bu1917-s San Francisco Mint Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Free Shipping!1921-d 50c Walking Liberty Half Dollar1916 P Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar1917-s Obverse Walking Liberty Half Dollar1936 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Choice Bu++ Nice Earlier DateRoll 1945 Walking Liberty Silver Halves .. Ch/gem BuComplete Walking Liberty Silver Half Set 1941-1947.. Gem Bu1921 D 50c Us Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Coin (ngc G 4 G4) (02534)Pcgs Ms66 1941 D Silver Liberty Walking Half Dollar Rim Tone Obverse1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Scarce Key Date, ** Free Shipping!Bulk Lot Of $5 Face Walking Liberty 90% Silver Half Dollars 10 Coins Junk Silver1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Tough Key Date ** Free Shipping!1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Fine, Key Date, ScarceLot Of 3 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars-1918-s,1920-s,& 19201936-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50¢- BuLot Of 140 Walking Liberty Half Dollars United States Coins 90% Silver1916 D High Grade Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar1938 Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ngc Ms64 *hucky*1920 Walking Liberty Half DollarBeautifully Toned 1946-d Walking Libery Half Pcgs Ms661918 S Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar1936 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Bu+1946 D Walking Liberty Half 50 Cents Ngc Ms64 Silver Old Us Mint Collection Lot1938-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar 50 Cent Ngc Vf Details Low Mintage1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar 50c Ngc Graded Vg 8 Coin Key Date $90 Rare1945 50c Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Silver Ngc Au55Walking Liberty Half Dollar ~ Complete Set Of 30 ~ 1937 To 1947 ~ Includes 38-dNrfs! Roll 20 Liberty Walking 90% Silver Half Dollar Collectible Coins 1934-1946