1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar: A Classic Coin Design Is Used Again

Walking Liberty Half Dollar Overview

​Regarded as one of the most beautiful Half Dollars ever struck, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar was loved by the general public and collectors alike. First struck in 1916 to replace the Barber Half Dollar, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar enjoyed a 31-year production run that ended in 1947.

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Adolph Weinman was the artist who completed the designs for the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Weinman was responsible for also creating the Mercury Dime. Both the Walking Liberty Half Dollar and the Mercury Dime were unique and beautiful coins that redefined the image of American coinage.

The main design on the obverse of the coin is Lady Liberty in a flowing dress with an outstretched arm and holding branches. A setting sun can be seen in the lower left-hand field of the coin. The mottos, “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY”, are also found above near the rim and to the left of Liberty, respectively.

On the reverse, an eagle perched on a branch with an olive branch in its claws is centered. Just above the olive branch is the famous words “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “HALF DOLLAR” can be found along the rim.

History of the 1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Although the first 20 years of the Walking Liberty production was kept relatively low, the year 1935 is an outlier.

Most years before 1935 were seen to have an average mintage figure of about five million. The Mint at Philadelphia reports minting 9,162,000 Walking Liberty Half Dollars dated 1935. This was about four million coins above the average mintage for similar years.

Not long after 1935, the mintage figures for Walking Liberty Half Dollars began to rise. This increase in production continued until the end of the series in 1947.

Each Walking Liberty Half Dollar is composed of a mix of 90% silver and 10% copper. The diameter is 30.63mm and weight is 12.50 grams. The edge of the coin is reeded (small bumps).

1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Image Source Flickr user Tom Hilton

Walking Liberty Half Dollar Design Used For Silver Eagle

The greatest and best-selling silver bullion coin offered by the United States Mint, the American Silver Eagle, owes its design to Walking Liberty Half Dollar.

Weinman’s obverse design for the Walking Liberty Half Dollar was so popular among collectors that the mint chose to use the classic design for its new American Silver Eagle. Instead of the original reverse design, the mint chose to use a new design by John Mercanti.

So after 39 years, Weinman’s famous Walking Liberty Half Dollar obverse design made a historic comeback in 1986.

The only changes that were made were some slight enhancements to the smaller design elements. Areas like the lines in Liberty’s dress were made clearer and the sun’s rays were made sharper.

Today, the American Silver Eagle is still selling in historic amounts, thanks to its silver content and pleasing design that history never forget. This reception goes to show that Weinman’s design was an instant classic that was truly ahead of its time.

Valuing the 1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Pricing for the 1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar is like most coins of the time, with lower grades having a tight spread between prices. Uncirculated coins are the opposite, and prices tend to increase quickly by each grade.

For examples that are in Good 4 condition, the general price is $11. Fine 12 examples see an increase to $14 and Extremely Fine pieces jump to $17.

Uncirculated coins see much higher prices due to low amounts of coins that survived in such great condition. $50 is the retail price for a 1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollar in MS-60 condition. Moving up the grade range, MS-63 condition sees a moderate increase to $75.

The biggest increase in price can be seen between MS-63 and MS-65 where the price shoots up dramatically to $270!

If a fewer 1935 Walking Liberty Half Dollars are found in premium grades, the prices may continue to increase at an unprecedented pace. On the flip side, if more high grades are found the prices will most likely plummet.

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