A Dave's Collectible Coins Article

Walking Liberty Half Dollars

Few coins command as much attention or as much interest from the coin collecting community as the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Often called “Walking Liberties” or, “Walkers” The Walking Liberty half dollar was a silver half dollar coin issued by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1947. The coin was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, and has been hailed as one of the most iconic American coins of the 20th century.

Since its inception in 1916, the Walking Liberty half dollars have been a favorite item for novice and advanced coin collectors alike, all across the nation. The coin started off as a favorite, and has continued to be so ever since then.

For some of the history of the coin, in the year of 1915 the new U.S. Mint Director, Robert W. Woolley, acting in accordance with U.S. law, began to make changes to current Mint coins. U.S. coins are required by law to not be changed until they have been used for twenty five years or until an act of congress orders a change. (A good article on this law can be found here: http://news.coinupdate.com/qa-why-doesnt-the-u-s-change-coin-designs-as-often-as-other-countries-do/). At that time, Barber coinage had been around for more than twenty-five year, and it was time to try something new. Woolley began the lengthy process of replacing the current dimes, quarters and half dollars, all of which at that time bore similar designs by long-time Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber. That era had come to an end, and it was time to create something new for U.S. coinage. Woolley commissioned Adolph A. Weinman to design the half dollar; the result was the beautiful Walking Liberty half dollar.

A Silver Coin Too!

Something that increases the interest for the Walkers is the fact that the coins are made from ninety percent silver. The other ten percent is made up of copper to help it keep its consistency and look. Silver coins demand an interest and a premium from the market simply for the fact of their silver content. While the value of a truly collectible Walker can often out price the value of the silver in the coin, a lot of Walkers are purchased simply for their silver content and are valued as such.

Investing in silver is almost always a smart move, and one of the best ways to do this is by buying silver coins. Buying bulk quantities of Walkers is often a good idea because then one can sort through them and pull the ones that have a high collector’s value, and keep the others simply as silver coins.

Interest for Coin Collectors

As a collectible coin, no Walking Liberty half dollar is especially rare. People tend to collect them en masse because they like them, because they hold their value, and because they have silver in them. However, there are many dates that are of interest to collectors like the 1921 and 1921-D. The Mint struck proof coins in 1916–1917 and 1936–1942, all at the Philadelphia Mint, which are also desired.

Most years of this coin were minted in relatively normal numbers, with few errors in the coins and few especially expensive or hard to find versions. Generally speaking, the Walking Liberty half dollar coin is simply a cherished coin that many people like. The visage of Liberty striding forward in all her regalia on one side, and the reverse side showcasing the iconic eagle, two different figures that are excellent representations of American freedom and resilience on one coin. Many different examples of Walking Liberty half dollars of different years can be found here.

The Pride of the American Half Dollar

The year 1947 saw the end of the Walker. In 1947, Mint Director of the time Nellie Tayloe Ross asked Mint Engraver Sinnock to produce a skilled design for a half dollar that would feature Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. This marked the end of the Walking Liberties. Ross had long been an admirer of Franklin, and wanted to see him on a coin, as he had not appeared on one yet. In fact, according to Rick Tomaska’s book, A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars, Mint officials had actually considered putting Franklin on the dime in the year 1941, but the project was never seen through due to the harsh war times of World War II.

Few half dollars and few American coins in general for that matter stand out like the Walker does. People buy these coins because they like them, because they like to collect them, or as an investment in silver. All in all, these are a favorite for many collectors.

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