1916 was the 25th year of the Barber Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar, though the last Barber Half Dollars were minted in 1915. As a result, the US Mint didn’t need permission from Congress to change the designs of these coins. To get designs for the new coins, the Director of the Mint had the Commission of Fine Arts conduct a competition. Sculptor Adolph A. Weinman won with both the Mercury Dime and Walking Liberty Half Dollar.
The obverse has Liberty wearing the American Flag holding laurel and oak branches, walking toward the Sun. The reverse has the American Eagle looking very powerful. The coin showed the strength of the United States while across the sea, there was the Great War.
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar would be the first circulated coin since the 1839-O Bust Half with the mint mark on the obverse, though it would only appear there in 1916 and early 1917. The remaining years would show the mint mark on the reverse.
Though it was popular with people, the mint had problems with Ms. Liberty. Some of the coins would have weak strikes, especially in San Francisco.
By 1947, there was talk about changing the design of the Half Dollar with the other denominations having designs of famous Americans. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross had been wanted to put Benjamin Franklin on a coin and with the Walking Liberty out for more than 25 years, the Half Dollar was the perfect choice. The Franklin Half Dollar would be minted starting in 1948.
Key and Semi-Key Dates
The key dates would be the three with mintages under 500,000: the 1921-P (246,000), 1921-D (208,000) and 1938-D (491,000). In fact the 1938-D Half Dollar would be the last circulating coin in the US with a mintage under 1,000,000.
There are other key dates which are known more as semi-key dates. These include the 1916-P, D, and S, 1917-D and S(both with mint marks on obverse), 1919-P, D, and S, and the 1921-S.
These key and semi-key dates are more popular for investors as well as other dates prior to 1941.
Walking Liberty Half Dollars have one of the most well known short sets in the US. Some collectors go for a shorter 20 coin set from 1941 – 1947. These are reasonably priced between MS-60 and MS-65. Investors could also collect these in hopes of the price of silver increasing. I’ve been considering putting together a Short Set between MS-63 and MS-65.
Future of the Walking Liberty Design
In 1986, the US Mint released the new American Eagle Silver Bullion Dollars and the obverse would be the same as the Walking Liberty Half Dollar.
With 2016 being the centennial of the Mercury Dime, Standing Liberty Quarter and Walking Liberty Half Dollar, the US mint will be releasing them in gold.
Would you Consider Collecting Walking Liberty Half Dollars?
Collectors and investors should both enjoy collecting Walking Liberty Half Dollars. You can make a set as simple or challenging as you want. Let me know what you think about Walking Liberty Half Dollars.