1916 – 1947
In 1916 The Walking Liberty half dollar, also referred to as the Walker, replaced the Barber half dollar and marked a change in the way US coins were designed. Since 1793, when the US mint first opened, the half dollar, quarter dollar and the dime had all carried the same design.
President Theodore Roosevelt wanted the US mint to change the way the coins were designed so that each denomination would have a different look. The striking of the new Winged Liberty, or “Mercury” dime, the Standing Liberty quarter and the Walking Liberty half ended the long practice of using a uniform design on US coins.
The obverse of the Walking Liberty half features Lady Liberty walking toward the sunrise. Her right hand is extended and in her left hand she holds laurel and oak branches. The word “LIBERTY” runs in an arc around the top of the coin and the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” appear on the right side just behind her right leg.
The reverse side of the Walking Liberty half shows an eagle perched on a rock with a sapling growing out of it. The eagles wings are spread as if ready to take flight. Across the top of the coin are the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, along the bottom, “HALF DOLLAR” and on the left side, in front of the eagles breast, are the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Weinman’s initials, AW, appear directly below the eagles tail feathers.
In 1916, coins produced by the mints at San Francisco and Denver placed the mintmark just below the words “IN GOD WE TRUST”. During mid 1917 the design was altered and the mintmark was placed on the reverse side of the coin on the left below the sapling. 1917 dated Walkers are available with both obverse and reverse mintmarks.
Throughout the entire production of the Walking Liberty half high mintage numbers were generally seen therefore there are no really rare dates. However the most uncommon dates of which less than a million each were struck are:
- 1917-D “Obverse Mint Mark”
- 1917-S “Obverse Mint Mark”
The Walking Liberty half dollar is a very popular coin among silver collectors. Because the coins were produced in such high numbers common circulated grades can be obtained fairly close to the silver content value.
Walking Liberty Half Dollar Specifications
Minted: 1916 – 1921, 1923, 1927 – 1929, 1933 – 1947
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Weight: 12.5 g
Composition: 90% Silver 10% Copper
Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
Written by David Slone, Copyright 2008 CoinCollectorGuide.com