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WYNTK But Were Afraid to Ask: Walking Liberty Half Dollar

15 posts in this topic

These articles are intended as a means to disseminate information so you can hone your skills as a collector or to archive information for retrieval as needed. Once we wade through all the facts and figures, which some collectors like and demand, things you really need to be aware of by the way, we'll get down to the meat and potatoes of this historic coin. Take your time, research the leads, have fun and by all means contribute.


The Sculptor


Designer: Adolph Alexander Weinman

(December 11, 1870 – August 8, 1952) was an American sculptor, born in Karlsruhe, Germany. He arrived in the United States at age 10, the rest is history.



How coins used to be conceived, on a easel, modeled in clay. Can anyone identify the medallion Weinman is working on?


Weinman designed two silver coins that tower above all others issued in that metal by the United States Mint: the Winged Liberty (or “Mercury”) dime and the Walking Liberty half dollar. Both were winners in a limited coin design competition staged by the U.S. Treasury in 1915, and both have remained winners ever since with collectors and connoisseurs of U.S. coinage art.


Diameter: ±30 millimeters

1.1811 inches

Metal content:

Silver - 90%

Copper - 10%

Weight: ±193 grains (±12.5 grams)

Edge: Reeded with 150 grooves




A powerful loupe is not required for the most part, magnification does help to identify dates & mint marks on worn coins. Magnification will help to determine slight wear patterns or rubs on the devices or to distinguish between the AU-MS coins.


Date run: 1916-1947 minted in P/D/S for a total of 65 different coins.

Note: no coins were struck with these dates 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, no 1927 P or D, no 1928 P or D, no 1929-P, 1930, 1931, 1932, no 1933 P or D and finally no 1947-S


Key dates: 1916-P/D/S, 1921-P/D/S, 1938-D

lowest mintage, 1921-D, 208,000

highest mintage, 1943-P, 53,190,000


Mint mark locations: starting in 1916, the D & S mint marks were placed on the obverse (Liberty side) below the "R" in the word TRUST. 1917 seen a shift in the placement of the Denver, San Francisco mint marks from below the "R" in TRUST on the obverse to the reverse below the branch (8 O’clock position) near the rim. Both mint mark locations can be found with the 1917.


Note: As with most vintage coins, the “P” mint mark was never added to the Walker series. No mint mark automatically indicated the coin was produced at the “Mother Mint” in Philadelphia.


As with most coins, the early dates command the most money with exponential amounts as the grade increases. There are a lot of nice grade coins can be had from $50-$100 range with the rarer dates and better struck coins quickly reaching 4 digits. Sure, you have the uber-grade coins that can easily reach 6 figures, but those are for a select few.



The Walker



The obverse depicts Miss Liberty walking toward the sun, striding eastward toward war-torn Europe, with a starry caped United States flag draped behind. With her right arm outstretched, she carries in her left arm a bundle of oak and laurel branches, said to be for military and civilian honors. LIBERTY is above, with IN GOD WE TRUST to the lower right and the date below.



The reverse shows an eagle facing left with wings outspread, perched on a rocky crag from which grows a pine branch, the symbol of strength. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above, E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left, and HALF DOLLAR is below.


Note, there would have been 48 stars on the flag in 1916 as Arizona and New Mexico became the last of the lower 48 states in 1912.


There is one DDR error, the 1946-P


Very evident doubled die reverse as seen in the wing feathers.


Proofs were minted in Philadelphia in the following years:

1936-3,901 1937-5,728

1938-8,152 1939-8,808

1940-11,279 1941-15,412



Total proofs = 74,400



Weak Strikes


Although Weinman provided the design to replace the Barber design that had been in use since 1892, it took seven revisions before the Weinman design could be used on the half dollar. This was mainly due to the high relief in several places. A problem encountered by the mints throughout the series was a typical weak strike on the high points of the design elements. The obverse facial details and hand holding a branch are typically weak, the reason being is the hand is directly in line with the high points of the eagle's breast and left leg on the reverse, which is also typically either weakly struck or the first place to wear. There simply wasn't enough metal in the planchets to properly fill those design elements when struck.



High points on devices where wear usually begins.





Please remember, assigning a grade on a coin is subjective at best, as this is just a guide for the novice. Please let the professional tier graders determine precise grades, the following can at least can give you a ballpark reference in generalities.


Very Good, is well worn, rims defined. The design is clear but flat and lacks details. The drapery across the body is partially visible with half of the skirt lines to the left visible. On the reverse, about one-third of the feathers are visible and the large feathers at the ends of wings are well separated.




Fine, shows moderate to heavy even wear. The entire design is clear and bold. The right leg is lightly worn. The left leg is nearly flat and the sandal is worn but visible. The eagle's breast is worn smooth. Half the wing feathers are visible but well worn




Very Fine, displays light to moderate even wear. Wear shows on the head, breast, arms and legs. The left leg is rounded but worn from above the knee to the ankle, nearly all the skirt lines are visible. An outline of the breast can be seen. The eagles breast and legs are moderately worn.




Extremely Fine, will show very light wear on only the highest points. It has light wear spots on the head, breast, arms and left leg. All of the gown lines are visible. The sandal details are bold and complete. The knee is lightly worn but full and rounded.




About Uncirculated, has small traces of wear visible on the highest points. It shows only a trace of wear on the highest points of the head, breast and right arm. On the reverse, a trace of wear shows on the left leg between the breast and left wing. (See footnote about AU grading)




Uncirculated (MS60) will show no trace of wear but may have minor blemishes. It may lack full mint luster and the surface may be dull, spotted or heavily toned. A few small spots may be weakly struck.



Uncirculated Choice (MS65) has no trace of wear but may have some small blemishes. It has full mint luster but may be unevenly toned or lightly finger marked. It may be weakly struck in one or two small spots with a few minute nicks or marks present.


Footnote: AU (Almost Uncirculated)


These coins have just the slightest of wear/abrasion on the breast of Liberty and on the breast of the eagle. One thing to note about AU condition Walkers is, they appear to have been lightly dipped and as a result have lost the luster that you would find on uncirculated coins. A seasoned collector will be able to tell the difference between a dipped coin and one that has seen a very light amount of circulation. Again, the focus of grading on the obverse are the hair above the temple, the right arm, the left breast and the left leg. On the reverse, the high points are the eagle's head, breast, legs and wings.


Fully-split fingers refers to Liberty’s left hand that is holding the bundle of oak and laurel branches. Her thumb will be seen separate of the fingers and in exemplary strikes you can count at least three fingers with the little finger folded under the other three.


Skirt lines are the vertical lines in Liberty’s gown and are extensions of Old Glory draped about her shoulder. They are banded or separated by voids and are first to disappear from wear on her firmly planted left leg.


On Liberty’s out stretched leg behind her, the sandal on her right foot will show detail such as a separate sole and criss-crossed leather wrappings.


The eagles feathers run continuous from the head down along the body to the out stretched left leg. There are also feathers long the very top of the tip of the eagles left wing. These two areas, the breast and the wing tip are the first to see wear.



I do not agree to those who claim they have an MS-60 slider (claiming it spent time in a felt lined cabinet and slid back and forth each time the drawer was opened and closed.) to me, those do exist, but can be very hard to prove they came from a collectors cabinet. So, in my mind if these two areas show wear/abrasion, what you have is considered an AU coin.


There really are no stopper coins (ultra rare) to complete a Walking Liberty date/mint set. I have many early date “slicks” (rimless coins) filling holes awaiting up-grade and I have a few holes left to fill. My wife claims I already had a few holes in my head but I pressed on none the less.


"Short Sets" consist of 20 different Walkers from 1941-1947 with all three mints represented, the P D & S There are albums available for the complete date/mint run and for short sets. Dansco Albums with protected windows seem to be the preferred method of storing and caring of raw coins.


Due to the higher mintage numbers, a high quality (MS) short set can be put together for a reasonable amount of money.


Of course, when choosing collectable coins in certified plastic slabs, always choose the top tier companies for the most honest representation of the grade embossed on the insert.



Bit of history, facts:

Adolph Weinman is well known today to numismatists thanks to his designs for the Winged Liberty Head or "Mercury" dime and the Walking Liberty half-dollar whose obverse is still in use on today's one-ounce silver eagles. It was eleven years before his famous coin designs when he was a student of and assistant to Augustus Saint-Gaudens that he was involved with an official inaugural medal. Not satisfied with the Davison produced inaugural medal in 1905, Theodore Roosevelt had a second medal designed by Saint-Gaudens. The design was done by Saint-Gaudens but it was actually Weinman who prepared the models for the medal. Adolph Weinman produced numerous other medals in his career. Among them where the Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.


Insight: These topics are posted to generate discussion and possible corrections to information that has been presented. Your participation is eagerly awaited…thanks for taking the time to glean the previous information for your enjoyment and to hone your collecting skills. Walking Liberty half dollars have given me years of enjoyment...there is something about this coin that is tireless, locked in an era that seen many years of human strife but also had years of glorious honor for mankind.



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Excellent post and information. This type of sharing of knowledge and facts is very informative, helpful and needed as part of this forum.


Rey (rbrown4)

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I have two comments; the first is that I am quite glad that you changed the grades on coins where the images were taken from a dealer website and where you disagreed with them and the second is that you should define the wing that is the left wing on the eagle. That is, is the left wing the eagle's left wing or is it to the viewer's left?

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One other thing that should be mentioned is that the competition to design the new dime, quarter and half dollar was among three invited sculptors. Two of the sculptors "won" a coin to design with Adolph Weinman designing the dime and half dollar and Hermon MacNeal designing the quarter. The third sculptor is often forgotten about, but his name was Albin Polasek.

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Quite true about the right, left when looking at a coin...I changed the sentence to read "eagles left" thanks for pointing that out.


The images represent normal wear patterns from moderate to slight, whereas graded and raw BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) Walkers can be seen in just about any auction.

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Great, practical information for anyone looking to collect these (they haven't made it to my list yet, but that's because I haven't finished my Peace dollar collection). If you belong to a local coin club, may I suggest you put this into a pamphlet format to hand out?

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There is one DDR error, the 1946-P



The 1946-P DDR is the only Doubled Die listed in the Redbook but this series has plenty of Doubled Dies. I have spent quite a few years chasing them.


Coneca Link

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Supurb post! Lots of nice information. I particularly like the series of graded coins, although I wish they were all the same size as the VF example. If you borrowed them from another website, do give credit where credit's due.


"Can anyone identify the medallion Weinman is working on?"

I can't, but it would be nice if you gave the answer at the end!


Thanks so much for taking the time!

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Want to thank Woody for an excellent post. As almost everyone knows, Walkers are my series of interest. It is always interesting to read how others view them and cherish them. Woody, thanks for your time and efforts. Bob [supertooth]

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I thought this to be helpful information


Mintage Figures

Date Mint Production

1916 P 608,000

1916 D 1,014,400

1916 S 508,000

1917 D OBV 765,400

1917 S OBV 952,000

1917 P 12,292,000

1917 D Rev 1,940,000

1917 S Rev 5,554,000

1918 P 6,634,000

1918 D 3,853,040

1918 S 10,282,000

1919 P 962,000

1919 D 1,165,000

1919 S 1,552,000

1920 P 6,372,000

1920 D 1,551,000

1920 S 4,624,000

1921 P 246,000

1921 D 208,000

1921 S 548,000

1923 S 2,178,000

1927 S 2,392,000

1928 S 1,940,000

1929 D 1,001,200

1929 S 1,902,000

1933 S 1,786,000

1934 P 6,964,000

1934 D 2,361,400

1934 S 3,652,000

1935 P 9,162,000

1935 D 3,003,800

1935 S 3,854,000

1936 P 12,617,901

1936 D 4,252,400

1936 S 3,884,000

1937 P 9,527,728

1937 D 1,676,000

1937 S 2,090,000

1938 P 4,118,152

1938 D 491,600

1939 P 6,820,808

1939 D 4,267,800

1939 S 2,552,000

1940 P 9,167,279

1940 S 4,550,000

1941 P 24,207,412

1941 D 11,248,400

1941 S 8,098,000

1942 P 47,839,120

1942 D 10,973,800

1942 S 12,708,000

1943 P 53,190,000

1943 D 11,346,000

1943 S 13,450,000

1944 P 28,206,000

1944 D 9,769,000

1944 S 8,904,000

1945 P 31,502,000

1945 D 9,966,800

1945 S 10,156,000

1946 P 12,118,000

1946 D 2,151,000

1946 S 3,724,000

1947 P 4,094,000

1947 D 3,900,600


Business strike total mintage: 485,320,340

Proof mintage: 74,400




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just a thought about products...what you might want to know.

Collection Protection

There is so much to know and always something new to learn. My Dad is a coin collector and so was my brother...they created the company to offer quality supplies. There are things some people don't know about what is used to protect coins and other collectibles. You can check it out if you like!

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