The Walking Liberty Half Dollar’s Rich, All-American History
Walking Liberty halves were designed and produced as part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Renaissance of American Coinage,” a dream that initiated the process of redesigning all currently-circulating coins. This process took years, continuing long after Roosevelt left office in 1909. These 50-cent coins were one of those coins, minted for the first time in 1916.
The Walking Liberty half dollar is well-recognized for good reason. This iconic coin was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, the sculptor and designer of the Mercury dime and a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the famous designer of the Double Eagle $20 coin.
The Walking Liberty coin became famous for its beautiful design. The obverse depicts Lady Liberty striding toward the sun with her right hand outstretched. An American flag is draped over her shoulders and her left hand holds finely-etched olive branches. The reverse features a bald eagle perched on a rock with a mountain pine sapling. This coin is considered to be one of the best designs ever to appear on a US coin, with these iconic designs enhanced by its 90% silver body.
Mint marks can be found on the coin’s obverse below the motto “In God We Trust” in 1916-1917 coins and on the bottom left portion of the reverse in 1917-1947 coins.
Production & Legacy
Walking Liberty halves were minted from 1916 to 1947, but minting was inconsistent between 1922 and 1933. While the Walking Liberty half dollar’s design is beautifully intricate, this intricacy, unfortunately, made it very difficult to strike. No matter how many tweaks or attempted fixes were made, many of these half dollar coins came out noticeably weak. This was likely a factor in its replacement in 1948 with the Franklin half dollar. Nevertheless, Adolph A. Weinman’s design became famous and left its mark on coin designers. Today, his striking version of Lady Liberty is present on the obverse of the American Silver Eagle bullion series.
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What are Walking Liberty Half Dollars made out of?
Walking Liberty halves are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper. They are considered one of the most beautiful silver coins struck in the United States.
What are the rarest Walking Liberty Halves?
The rarest and most sought after Walking Liberty halves are those that were produced earliest and had the lowest mintages. As the lowest mintage of Walking Liberties, the 1921-D is a particularly hard date. Depending on the grade, it can command prices up to tens of thousands of dollars.
How many Walking Liberty Half Dollars were struck?
A total of 485,320,340 half dollars were struck during minting from 1916 until 1947. Fewer and fewer exist with each passing year, making these beautifully designed coins even more sought after.