What You Need to Know Before You Sell Walking Liberty Half Dollars

It helps to be familiar with certain types of coins as you collect them and before you sell them.  The purpose of this article is to provide you with a bit of history on Walking Liberty half dollars, information on key dates, and where to sell Walking Liberty half dollars to receive the most value for your coins.

Walking Liberty half dollars, affectionately known in the coin industry as “Walkers,” were minted for 31 years, from 1916 to 1947, are 90% silver, and unlike the Kennedy half dollar, it’s virtually unheard of to find one in current circulation.  The coin replaced the Liberty Head designed by Charles E. Barber that was minted from 1892 through 1915.  The Walking Liberty half dollar, arguably one of the most beautiful coins ever made in the United States, is so popular that its design was revived by the government in 1986 when a modified version was used as the image for American silver eagle coins; the most popular pure fine silver coin in the market today.

Robert W. Woolley became the new U.S. Mint Director in 1915 and, because he believed at the time that he was required by law to replace any coin designs which had been used for 25 years, sought to replace Barber coinage, including half dollars.  The Commission of Fine Arts was enlisted by Woolley to help find a new design, and the commission sponsored a contest.  Adolph A. Weinman, an American sculptor born in Germany, won the competition and designed, in addition to the Mercury dime, the Walking Liberty half dollar, which was the first new image on half dollars made in the 20th century.

A full-length image of Lady Liberty graces the front of the Walking Liberty half dollar.  She is walking with a long stride and holds branches of laurel and oak, which symbolize civil and military glory.  Her right hand is outstretched, in bestowal of the spirit of liberty.  The folds of the American flag fly in the wind in the background.  The sun, complete with beams of light, is on Lady Liberty’s lower left side.  “In God We Trust” is to her lower right.  “Liberty” is engraved around the edge of the coin from above the sun on the left to the same point on the right.  The coin’s year of mintage is in the bottom center of the coin, below Lady Liberty’s left foot.

The reverse of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar depicts a bald eagle with unfolded wings perched on a steep mountain crag.  A symbol of America, a sapling mountain pine springs from a rift in the rock.

When setting out to sell Walking Liberty half dollars, it’s essential to be aware of the value of the individual coins.  The most valuable among the Walking Liberty coins include:

The 1921 S Walking Liberty Half Dollar.  Approximately one million Walking Liberty half dollars were issued in 1921, and almost half of them were San Francisco mint issues.  Many of the 548,000 1921 S half dollars can sell in the hundreds of dollars in circulated condition and for a thousand dollars or more if in higher end condition.  Without question, this is the rarest issue of the coin that you can find in mint condition, as evidenced by uncirculated versions of the coin selling in the five figure range.

Other examples of valuable Walking Liberty half dollars that can sell for a substantial amount of money in high end condition are the 1919-D, 1921, 1921-D, and 1938-D half dollars.  In fact, the 1921-D Walking Liberty half dollar is the lowest minted coin in the type series and can sell at prices that approach those of the 1921-S half dollar.

If you have a coin collection of Walking Liberty half dollars with every date and mintmark, you have an incredibly rare collection.  Many coin collectors, because of the cost involved with collecting Walking Liberty half dollars, collect short sets, which means the dates and mintmarks for a span of a few years, such as from 1941 through 1947.  There is even a popular collection comprised of just three coins – one Walking Liberty half dollar each from San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia.

Walking Liberty Half Dollars are also popular in various type sets, such as birth year type sets, half dollar type sets, and 20th century type sets.

Several options exist in you’re in the market to sell Walking Liberty half dollars.  Jewelry stores, pawn shops and “we buy gold” stores commonly purchase these coins, but because they’re not coin experts, you’re not likely to receive a premium for low mintage and high end condition coins.  While auctions are also an option, they can be quite costly and are less reliable than other means, such as identifying a reputable local or online coin dealer to whom to sell your coins.

Sell Walking Liberty Half Dollars

Tony Davis
Tony Davis