Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916-1947)
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was a symbol of change in the second half of the 20th century. It was the time of Woodrow Wilson’s narrow re-election as President of the USA, the rise of movie theaters, and major shifts and changes in the world of technology. In this era of rapid change, it was bound to happen that the world of coins would undergo a serious transformation too. Here are some of the major distinguishing qualities of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar and why it represents such an enormous change.
Shortly before the debut of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar, there were already new and exciting additions to US coin design. Three old designs, the Barber silver coins, were now on their way out and required replacement as well. A.A. Weinman was commissioned to create two of these replacement designs, and that’s where the history of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar really begins.
Creating a truly spectacular artwork to go on his design, Weinman portrayed a figure of Liberty, dressed in the Stars and Stripes, holding the two symbolic branches of oak and laurel, and walking toward a sunrise. On the other side of the coin is a proud, powerful eagle perched on a cliff. To a nation preparing to enter WWI, these themes of strength and unwavering patriotism struck a chord in the public consciousness. Released in November, the coin immediately received unanimous praise. Multiple newspapers spoke in glowing terms of the design and the public was enamored with the coin’s beauty.
From then on, circulation increased rapidly. There were more than 485 million Walking Liberty Half Dollars made from 1916 to 1947. That said, release was sporadic and irregular. Some years no coins were minted at all, while other years there was a steady influx. In any case, new circulation of the coin began to drop off in the 1930’s during the Great Depression, as the high value of the coin ensured that not many were needed among the public.
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar has a huge appeal among hobbyist collectors and even non-collectors for a variety of reasons. The first and perhaps largest reason is the design itself; beautifully and expertly created, the artwork on the Walking Liberty is dazzling enough for anyone to be interested. Certain dated mints of the coin can be found with astonishingly high quality and even lower quality collections of the Walking Liberty can reach a high price depending on the year. A Walking Liberty Half Dollar from 1921, for instance, promises to fetch a lucrative asking price.
A full set of the Walking Liberty Half Dollars would mean 65 combinations of date and mint. While this is quite the feat, it is not impossible and many collectors are quite determined to try it out for themselves. And, with all that we know about this coin, it’s not difficult to see why. In any case, owning any number of versions of this coin is bound to be extremely rewarding for the buyer or collector.