Obverse. Photo © PCGS CoinFacts
  • 1/2 Dollar 1916-1947, KM# 142, United States of America (USA)
  • 1/2 Dollar 1916-1947, KM# 142, United States of America (USA)
  • 1/2 Dollar 1916-1947, KM# 142, United States of America (USA), Denver Mint: mintmark on obverse (left), reverse (right)
  • 1/2 Dollar 1916-1947, KM# 142, United States of America (USA), San Francisco Mint: mintmark on obverse (left), reverse (right)
Description

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was introduced in 1916 and minted until 1947. The range of years included World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. The design of Adolph A. Weinman (AAW) was selected for the new half dollar motif to replace the Barber design which had been in use since 1892. Weinman, a sculptor, also produced the Liberty Head or “Mercury” dime introduced the same year.

During the first two years of issue, the mintmark appeared on the obverse, beneath the motto “In God We Trust.” Midway through 1917, it was moved to the reverse, near the edge at the 7 o’clock position resulting in both “Obverse” and “Reverse” mintmark varieties for that year.

The 1919-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar does not have a particularly low mintage, however gem graded examples represent a great rarity for the series. There is only a single MS-66 graded example known. This coin has sold for more than $250,000 on two separate occasions.

The design of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar is recognized as one of the most beautiful in the history of American coinage. The obverse design was chosen to be used on the American Silver Eagle when the bullion and collector coin series was introduced in 1986.

Obverse

Depicts the full figure of walking Liberty, with a long gown and American flag draped across her shoulders and billowing around her. In one hand, she holds a bouquet of olive branches, while the other hand is held outstretched before her. The sun rises from the lower left. LIBERTY is above, while IN GOD WE TRUST is to the lower right, and the date is below.

Weinman's obverse bears a resemblance to Oscar Roty's "Sower" design for French coins.

LIBERTY
IN GOD
WE TRUST
1917

Reverse

Depicts a bald eagle perched on a rock with wings raised in a defiant stance. A mountain pine springs from the rock, as a symbol of America. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above, E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left, and HALF DOLLAR is below.

Weinman's monogram (AAW), normally placed near the rim of the coin at the lower right. A number of the later proof coins lack Weinman's monogram, apparently lost through overpolishing of dies. This is most common with the 1941 proof pieces—much of the year's production lacks the monogram—but is known for other years.

The reverse is similar to Weinman's medal for the American Institute of Architects, although the sculptor replaced the laurel on the medal with a pine sapling. Weinman's work on the medal had been widely admired for the power of the depicted eagle.

The bald eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting. Bald eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of the word, "white headed".

UNITED·STATES·OF·AMERICA·
E·PLURIBUS
UNUM
HALF·DOLLAR
AAW

Edge

1/2 Dollar

Walking Liberty Half Dollar
KM# 142 Schön# 136
Characteristics
Material Silver
Fineness 0.900
Weight 12.5 g
Diameter 30.6 mm
Thickness 1.8 mm
Shape round
Alignment Coin
Mints
Denver Mint (D)
Philadelphia Mint (no mintmark)
San Francisco Mint (S)

Related coins

Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Without Motto

Silver, 13.36 g, ⌀ 30.6 mm
Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Without Motto, Date Arrows, With Rays

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Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Without Motto, Date Arrows, Without Rays

Silver, 12.44 g, ⌀ 30.6 mm