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    

1918-s Better Date Walking Liberty Half, Pcgs Au-58 (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)1928-s Key Date Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Lustrous Ef-au And Original1921-d Ngc Vg 8 Key Date Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!Pcgs Ms-65 1938-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar ~ Lovely Mint Luster 1916 - 1947 U.s. Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar Complete Set Including Keys!1939-p Pcgs Ms66 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1919-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar............no Reserve!Key Date 1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Split Breast Fine+1937-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Key Date// Choice Gem Brilliant Uncirculated!1921 Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Half Dollar Lot Silver Only 20k Minted1921-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Pcgs G04 *no Reserve!Walking Liberty Half Dollar Set 1916-1940 (42 Of 45 Halves-missing 3) 90% Silver1921-d Nice "key Date" Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1916 50c Liberty Walking Half Dollar F12 Details Fine Walker Key Date No Reserve1940 Walking Liberty Half Dollar High Grade Pcgs Ms 67» 1921-d « Liberty Walking Half Dollar 501929 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar No Wear High Grade Key Date Denver Mint1934 S Walking Liberty Half Dollar No Wear High Grade 100% Original1916-d Ngc Vf 20 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Toned High Very Fine 1916-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar ~ Nr!Choice Uncirculated 1934 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar ~ Nr!Lot Of 37 Walking Liberty Half Dollars 1918-1947 Silver Coins Mixed Dates1941 Walking Liberty Half Dollar High Grade Ngc Ms 671939 Walking Liberty Half Ngc Ms66 Lightly Toned ~colorful Toning~gem MintFirst Year Of Issue 1916-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Very Good+1941 Walking Liberty Half Dollar High Grade Pcgs Ms 671945 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar Ngc Ms 66 Cac1933-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Key Date// Choice High Grade!!1917-p Ngc Ms62 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1927-s Key Date Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Lustrous Ef-au And Original1917 Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar ~ Better Date ~ 50c-0051939-p Pcgs Ms65 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1921-d Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollar - Key Date - No Reserve!1928-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar~better Date Extra Fine Coin~1947 Pcgs Ms-64 Walking Liberty Half Dollar!!1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar Series Key Date High Grade 100% Original1938-d Silver Walking Liberty Half Free Shipping1947 D Silver Walking Liberty Half Anacs Ms 641916-p Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar GoodWalking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Lot Of 24 Coins. 90% Silver Us Coins1916 Silver Walking Liberty Half Free ShippingUncirculated 1937-s Silver Walking Liberty Half Free S/h!!!1918-s Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar............no Reserve!1916 S Walking Liberty Silver 501918-d Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar............no Reserve!1921-d * Pcgs G04 G 4 * Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar $330+ Nice Affordable1941 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Pcgs Cac Ms66 Nice Cac Certified Coin1936-d Walking Liberty Half Ogh Rattler Pcgs Ms64 1938 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar Series Key Date High Grade 100% Original» 1946 « Uncirculated Liberty Walking Half Dollar Pcgs Ms65 Ogh 1916s Walking Liberty Half1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar Vg Key Date1921-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar - About Extra Fine1933-s Walking Liberty Half Dollar--nice Solid Extra FineVf 1938-d Walking Liberty Half Dollar Free Shipping1938-d 50c Walking Liberty Half DollarKey Date 1921-s Walking Liberty Silver Half. Essential Collection Addition!A 1918 Abraham Lincoln Fifty Cent Coin1941 Bu Gem Liberty Walking Silver Half Dollar Coin#319 $unc/ms++$us Mint$rare1921-s Vf Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar Id# Yy211