Walking Liberty Half Dollar Values (1916–1947)
1916 Walking Liberty half dollar, first year-of-issue. Image via USA CoinBook
Its allure transcends the numismatic arena. Even many non-collectors also enamored with the coin’s soaring depiction of Miss Liberty. Her right arm is gracefully outstretched as Liberty strides towards a mountain-peaked sunrise. On the reverse is a regal American eagle perched upon a craggy mountaintop.
The design of Lady Liberty by Adolph A. Weinman was featured on the United States half dollar from 1916 through 1947. This majestic design replaced the short-lived Franklin half dollar. It reemerged in 1986 with the debut of the one-ounce American Silver Eagle bullion coin.
What Are the Rarest & Most Valuable Walking Liberty Half Dollars?
The Walking Liberty silver half dollar series encompasses a number of scarce key and semi-key coins as well as conditional rarities. Some of the lowest-mintage pieces include the 1921 and 1921-D Walking Liberty halves. They have mintages of 246,000 and 208,000, respectively, and serve as the series keys. Meanwhile, there are nearly a half dozen semi-keys, including:
|1917-D (Mintmark on Obverse)||765,400|
|1917-S (Mintmark on Obverse)||952,000|
A lot of collectors fixate on mintage numbers and think they directly correspond to how many specimens of a coin remain. But this is simply not true. Mintage figures only illustrate how many pieces were officially struck. They do not reflect how many specimens still exist. And when it comes to vintage coins the mintage numbers are almost always much, much higher than the actual number of survivors.
This is an important point relating to so-called conditional rarities. These are issues that may show relatively high mintage figures but exist only in small numbers at or above a certain grade range. This is certainly true for the pre-1934 Walking Liberty half dollars. All of them are tougher in grades of Fine or better and decidedly scarce in Extremely Fine or higher.
How Much Are Walking Liberty Half Dollars Worth?
The series spans the gamut on pricing. Well-circulated common-date pieces dated after 1933 are worth around spot metal prices. Yet many pre-1934 Superb Gems reach into the five- and six-figures.
What does that mean for collectors? There’s something for collectors of just about every income.
|1917-D (Obverse Mintmark)||$75||$225||$575|
|1917-D (Reverse Mintmark)||$40||$275||$900|
|1917-S (Obverse Mintmark)||$125||$700||$2,500|
|1917-S (Reverse Mintmark)||$18||$65||$415|
|1946 (Doubled Die Reverse)||$25||$55||$250|
*All prices above are for typical, problem-free specimens.
As a rule of thumb, all business strikes made from 1934 through 1947 are worth approximately their silver content values. The only exception is the scarce 1938-D.
For this range of dates, only uncirculated business strikes are worth any significant sums. Prices hover between $35 and $50 for typical specimens in grades of Mint State-60 to Mint State-63.
Given that this pricing structure is relatively simple, this article focuses on individual prices for issues from the earlier (pre-1934) year segment, as well as all key dates and semi-keys, and proofs.
Walking Liberty design on Silver Eagle coin
Collecting Walking Liberty Half Dollars
The Walking Liberty half dollar is a widely collected coin. It’s not necessarily cost prohibitive to build a handsome collection of this beloved series.
Circulated Walking Liberty examples offer collectors who want to build a comprehensive date-and-mintmark set affordable options. Those who want an uncirculated set without breaking the bank can assemble a short set. Specialists with deeper pockets will find many challenges in building the entire set with uncirculated specimens as well as proofs and major varieties.
As the price chart above illustrates, you can assemble a nice set at relatively low prices. That is, if you target the lower circulated grades.
In fact, if you want to build a set in the Good-4 to Very Good-8 range, you can do so for only a fraction of the Fine-12 prices listed. Good-4 coins lack much of the detail that becomes evident even in the moderately circulated grade of Fine-12. Yet a Good-4 specimen is nevertheless still highly collectible. It presents the collector with a satisfying representative of a given issue.
The main caveat here is for collectors who want a set that will retain its value and appeal to potential future buyers: Only seek problem-free examples with normal color. Surely, it's better to buy a problem-free, attractive Good-4 than a whizzed or cleaned Fine-12.
1938-D Walking Liberty half dollar
Compile a "Short Set"
Collecting a short set of "Walkers"? These sets typically focus on the regular-issue business-strikes minted from 1941 through 1947. This avoids all key dates and semi-keys as well as proofs and varieties.
One can build a nice circulated set in this date range for little more than spot value. One of the advantages of focusing on this latter period in the series, however, is that all dates are widely available in uncirculated grades. This means a beautiful, fully uncirculated 1941–47 short set of Walking Liberty halves can be assembled at a cost that many find affordable.
Compile a Complete Set
Finally, there is the complete collection, including proofs and varieties.
There are very few major varieties—the 1946 doubled die reverse being one of them. The proofs issued from 1936 through 1942 offer collectors some challenge.
Not only are all proofs fairly expensive, but finding particularly nice specimens can be daunting. A collector who wants a complete date-and-mintmark set (with proofs and varieties) may decide to assemble a higher-grade set. They might do so for the sake of built-in value and overall eye appeal.
Such a collection may entail the first half of the collection containing examples grading Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated. The latter segment from 1934 to 1947 would exclusively grade Mint State-60 or better.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Where is the mint mark on the Walking Liberty half dollar?
On Walking Liberty halves made from 1917–1947, the mintmark is found on the bottom-left portion of the reverse, beneath the olive branch.
On 1916 Walking Liberty half dollars and some 1917-dated halves, the mintmark is found on the bottom-right of the obverse, just below the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST."
Are Liberty half dollars worth anything?
Following the end of the Capped Bust coinage, all of the silver half dollar designs produced during the years 1839 through 1947 could be considered "Liberty" half dollars. Each features a different depiction of Lady Liberty. This includes Seated Liberty or Liberty Seated half dollars (1839–1891), Barber or Liberty Head half dollars (1892–1915), as well as Walking Liberty or Liberty Walking half dollars (1916–1947).
All of these coins are made from an alloy of 90% silver 10% copper. In addition, any half dollars minted before about 1934 are rather scarce and collectible, especially with third-party grading certification.
Are Walking Liberty half dollars worth anything?
Yes! All Walking Liberty half dollars are 90% silver, so even in very poor condition they are generally worth more than $10 per piece. As illustrated above, Walking Libs that are key dates and/or are in uncirculated condition can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
What is the most valuable Walking Liberty half dollar?
According to the coin values listed in the official Red Book and virtually all other pricing guides, the most valuable Walking Liberty half dollar is the 1921-S. The next-closest contender is the 1921-D. These rankings are reflected in the price chart above.
Keep in mind this is assuming all other things being equal, meaning we're only comparing the value of Walking Liberty half dollars with a generic MS-63 grade. Coins of special pedigrees, of special varieties, or with certain errors may be worth more. You can check the PCGS price guide for updated values and auction records.
How much is a 1942 Walking Liberty half dollar worth?
Generally, all business-strike half dollars from the 1940s are worth their silver content if they are circulated.
Three different mintmark varieties of the Walking Liberty half were produced in 1942: the 1942 (Philadelphia), 1942-S (San Francisco), and 1942-D (Denver). All three have equal values in the official Red Book for all grades below MS-63.
What are Kennedy half dollars worth?
Most circulated Kennedy half dollars minted after 1970 are worth their face value. From 1965–1970, Kennedy halves were made from 40% silver, and are worth at least the melt value of their silver content.
1964 Kennedy half dollars are struck from 90% silver, making them the most desirable year in the series. You can read more about the most valuable Kennedy half dollars by following the link!
Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.
Read more about collecting U.S. coins from the author:
Latest Offers, Straight To Your Inbox
Don't be the last to know about the latest deals and new product arrivals. Join us today for FREE!