Thursday, December 1, 2011

Walking Liberty

Walking Liberty half dollars have value as all coins in the series are 90% silver half dollars. They are thought by many people to be some of the most beautiful coins ever struck by the United States Mint.

The Walking Liberty half dollar series started almost 100 years ago, with the first year of issue in 1916 struck at all three operating facilities at the time: the main US Mint at Philadelphia, and the branches in Denver and San Francisco. All three 1916 issues are rare dates in the series and in terms of rare coin values are worth much more than the average common dates in the second half of the series in all grades of preservation.

Interestingly, in the second year two types were struck at the Denver and San Francisco branches of the US Mint: mintmark on the obverse, and mintmark on the reverse (as it was for the remainder of the duration of the series).

The Walking Liberty half dollar series ran normally for the first few years through 1921, and the 1921 coins along with the first two years of issue 1916 - 1917 and the 1919-D and 1923-S are the key dates in the series and have the highest value, with the 1934-S and 1938-D rarer dates also that have a much higher value than average common dates in the 1940s that close out the series.

There were no Walking Liberty halves struck in 1922, and only the San Francisco branch of the US Mint struck these halves in 1923. A pause of a few years then occurred until 1927, when again only the branch mint at San Francisco struck these halves, and the same was true in 1928; in 1929, both the Denver and San Francisco branches of the US Mint struck them.

Then followed the first three years of "the great depression", and no Walking Liberty halves were struck at all in 1930, 1931, and 1932. In 1933, only the branch mint at San Francisco struck Walking Liberty half dollars. Normal production at all three mint locations resumed in 1934 through the end of the series in 1947, except for three of those years in which only two US Mint facilities struck these beautiful halves.

While a complete date and mintmark set of "Walkers" in mint state uncirculated has a very high value and is extremely costly, many people may be able to buy at least a single mint state uncirculated example to keep and treasure. The most affordable dates are the later dates in the 1940s, struck at the US Mint at Philadelphia.

Following the Walking halves, the 50 cent denomination switched to the Ben Franklin half dollars from 1948 through 1963, and then switched again to the John Kennedy half dollars from 1964 through the present.
Until you have gotten experienced with grading coins, it may be better to follow popular wisdom and only buy rare coins graded professionally, for example, by ANACS, NGC or PCGS. If you are in possession of Liberty Walking halves or any other coins that are degrading, NCS may be able to help save them.

The proof coins in the Walking half dollar series, struck from 1936 through 1942, have low mintages and a high value.

Once the decision was made for the US Mint to strike silver and gold bullion coins that people could buy to invest in for their metal value, it was thought that at least the bullion coins should be beautiful looking also.

So following the example set by the US Mint when preparing the modern bullion Gold Eagles, for which the design is based on the most beautiful gold US coin, the Saint Gaudens double eagle, naturally the most beautiful silver US coin was chosen to be used as the basis for the design of the US Mint bullion silver eagles, and that's the Walking Liberty half dollar.

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  1. Yes that's true, it would probably be quite surprising to find someone who does not consider the walking liberty half one of the most beautiful coins ever made.

  2. These coins are beautiful and have a special place in history, even the modern bullion coins.


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