How much is a Walking Liberty Half Dollar worth?
Coleccionistasdemonedas.com Estimated Value of Walking Liberty Half Dollar is:
Walking Liberty Half Dollar value VF20 XF40 AU50 MS63 MS66 1918-D $125 $265 $525-550 $2,500-3000 $25,000-34,500 1919-D $375 $950 $2,050-2,200 $8,500-11,500 $210,000-250,000 1921-S $725 $3,750 $8,500-8,650 $36,500-39,500 $110,000-140,000 1936 $16 $17 $21 $85-90 $185-200 1945 $16 $17 $18 $55-60 $100-115
As you can see there are big price differences in the value of a walking liberty half dollar depending on the quality, year, and mint (place of manufacture) of each one. For this reason, we can buy some specimens in medium-high grades from around $40 or $50 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, as for example an incredible $250,000 for this Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1919-D MS65 sold by Heritage Auctions in 2018:
Read on to learn more:
- How to identify your Walking Liberty Half Dollar,
- To know which years are most valuable and why: 1917, 1918, 1919, 1921, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946
- Some mistakes that drive up its price
How to identify a Walking Liberty Half Dollar?
These 50 cents are very recognizable by their design. But… do you know what each element symbolizes?
We can see on the obverse of the coin a woman symbolizing Liberty. Over her shoulder flies the flag of the United States and in her hands, she holds oak and laurel branches. These branches can be seen on many coin designs since ancient times, and have always been associated with civilian and military glory.
The figure of Liberty is advancing in the direction of the rising sun, which symbolizes the dawn of a new day. Of course, the legend that is surrounding Liberty leaves no room for its meaning, “LIBERTY“. There is another legend to the right of the woman and it is the now-famous motto “IN GOD WE TRUST“.
The mint mark, which we will talk about later, is found under this motto, except if it is Philadelphia, which has no mark. As the last element of the obverse, and the most important for its value, we have the mint year on the exergue, on the lower part of the face.
On the reverse, we find a powerful eagle, which occupies almost the entire design. This eagle steps on some mountain pine branches, a symbol of America.
Above the bird, appears the name of the issuing country, “UNITED. STATES. OF. AMERICA.“. On its upper left side, another well-known motto “E. PLURIBUS UNUM“. Finally, under the rock from which the branches sprout the value of the coin, we can see “HALF. DOLLAR“.
As for its characteristics, they are as follows:
- It weighs 12.5 grams.
- A diameter of 30 millimeters.
- It is made of 90% silver, and the remaining 10% is copper.
- There may be three possible mints:
- Philadelphia: No mintmark letter.
- Denver: Marked by the letter “D” on the obverse.
- San Francisco: Marked by the letter “S” on the obverse.
Each mint has a different number of mintages, so they may be rarer. Typically Philadelphia is the most abundant in Walking Half Dollars, and Denver the rarest, and therefore most valuable.
There are some specimens that have the mint mark on the reverse, to the left of the rock on which the eagle stands.
Most wanted Walking Liberty Half Dollar: 2021 updated prices
The most expensive Walking Liberty Half Dollars are those prior to 1934, since finding them in high quality is much rarer. Although there may, of course, be exceptions as we shall see.
Below, we will briefly list 5 of the most expensive years and mints in high grades on these Walking Liberty 50 cent coins.
#1 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1919-D
In the highest grades, such as MS65 and MS66 is the most valuable Walking Liberty Half Dollar, it has a mintage of 1,165,000 coins, and is very rare in those grades as we can see in the following price table:
|Walking Liberty Half Dollar||1919-D|
You can see a specimen auctioned for these prices at the beginning of the post.
#2 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1921-S
This is a valuable year in any of its mints, but especially San Francisco holds the record in the medium and high grades. It has a mintage of 548,000.
|Walking Liberty Half Dollar||1921-S|
#3 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1918-D
More abundant than the others on the list in terms of issuance, with 3,853,040 coins minted, however, it is very difficult to find a 1918 Denver mint issue in virtually mint condition.
|Walking Liberty Half Dollar||1918-D|
#4 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1917-S Obverse
Another of the most expensive years is this one minted in San Francisco, its mintage of 952,000 coins makes it relatively scarce in high grades, as few survive today like this.
|Walking Liberty Half Dollar||1917-S Obverse|
#5 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1946 Doubled Die Reverse
We had mentioned before that the rarest Walking Liberty Half Dollar coins are found before 1934, but we felt like showing you an error that breaks this rule.
This is a double minting on the reverse, which makes it more valuable than coins that do not have this error.
|Walking Liberty Half Dollar||1946 Doubled Die Reverse|
A little history of the Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollar
Between 1916 and 1947, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar was the 50-cent coin in the United States. This silver coin succeeded the Barber Half Dollar design that had been circulating in the country since 1892.
It was designed by Adolph A. Weinman to replace the previous half dollars, and its design was inspired by the “seeder” that appeared on French coins since 1897. This woman symbolizes freedom in both countries and Weinman turned it into an American symbol by harmonizing it with typical American elements such as the flag with stars and stripes and of course the eagle on the reverse.
The design of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar has a very high relief, like the 10-cents (Mercury Dime) coins, which had to be modified due to the errors they had in their first mintages. This delayed the release of the Half Dollars (50 cents) so as not to make the same mistakes as with its “little sister”.
Today, the Walking Liberty design is still used on American Silver Eagle bullion coins made of 999 thousandths silver since 1986. So you can also buy a current coin with this beautiful design.
How do I know the quality of my Walking Liberty Half Dollar?
The higher the grade, the higher the price grows exponentially, as it is a factor of great importance. U.S. coins are usually quite abundant in medium grades, so a slight difference in quality can make them extremely rare. The high relief of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar makes them easily wearable, hence their great value in the neater grades. A year with less quantity minted makes high grades even rarer.
To know the state of conservation of the coin we own or want to buy we need to have an expert eye that we can hardly acquire without time or experience. That is why it is not a bad idea to resort to TPG (Third Party Grading Service). These are companies dedicated to evaluate and give a score to our coins according to their condition. In addition, they certify the authenticity and encapsulate the coin for security purposes, both for its preservation and to facilitate its sale.
As you can see, this is a relatively expensive coin to collect if you want to have a specimen of each year in high quality.
However, there are specimens with good graduation that can be obtained at an affordable price, as long as we are not looking for rarities. It is also a collection of at least a few thousand dollars, but if we are not demanding in the quality we can get all Walking Half Dollars in time.
If you like this design and have one with MS65 graduation, even if it is a common year, it will surely surprise your fellow collectors with its beauty. It is certainly a little work of art that you can have.
They also retain their value well over time, so they are a good investment for the future.
Coleccionista Numismático con especial interés en la historia de España.
Graduado en Relaciones Laborales y Recursos Humanos. Poseo formación en numismática por la Universidad de Murcia. Soy especialista en moneda española (desde los Reyes Católicos hasta la actualidad), euros y módulos grandes de plata.
Numismatic collector with special interest in the history of Spain.
Graduated in Labor Relations and Human Resources. I have been trained in numismatics by the University of Murcia. I am a specialist in Spanish currency (from the Catholic Kings to the present), euros and large silver modules. My main sources are the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and numismatic publications: CoinWeek, COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter and Coin Values.