1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar: Highest Mintage Of The First 20 Years

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Walking Liberty Half Dollar Overview

The flowing and beautiful design of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar has been the centerpiece of coin collector’s stashes for decades. A pleasing design and rising prices are qualities of a coin that is easy to look at and invest in. It's no wonder that Walking Liberty Half Dollars are one of the most demanded coin series.

Designed by Adolph Weinman, who also designed the Mercury Dime, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar has the same grace and beauty. Eventually, this timeless design was even brought back and made into the obverse of the American Silver Eagle in 1986.

Weinman designed the obverse using a striding Lady Liberty with an outstretched hand and a flag draped on her shoulder. Olive branches can also be found clutched in Liberty’s left arm. “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and the date can also be found on the obverse.

The reverse focuses on a perched American eagle with slightly outstretched wings and a mountain pine sapling near its talons. Legends like “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” can be found around the reverse’s rims. “HALF DOLLAR” can be found centered below the main design.

History of the 1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

1917 is the year that set a mintage record for the Walking Liberty Half Dollar that wouldn’t be broken until 1936. Despite this, prices remain competitive with dates that did not have as high a mintage.

The mint at Philadelphia reports minting 12,292,000 Walking Liberty Half Dollars in 1917. Mintage figures would not rise to this level consistently until the early 1940s.

During the first few years of mintage starting in 1916, Walking Liberty Half Dollars had mint marks sometimes placed on the obverse or reverse. Because Philadelphia-minted coins do not have a mintmark, obverse/reverse mint mark varieties from that location do not exist.

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).

Symbolism in the Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Art is meant to create feelings and emotions in a observer. Each person sees art a different way, but sometimes art is meant to convey a certain message. For most US coinage, symbolism and conveying messages are what the artists aim for.

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is no exception and has many elements that are specifically meant to convey a message.

Starting with the obverse, the rising sun in the lower left is meant to show the start of a new day and time period. Liberty’s outstretched arm is to show the spirit of liberty. The olive branches are used to show peace and military might.

The bald eagle is the main design of the reverse and represents many different symbolic meanings. The first symbol is that the eagle represents confidence and power with its outstretched wings. Perched atop a mountain, the eagle symbolizes the power and dominance over the land.

Collectors and art historians praise the obverse and reverse designs as being graceful yet full of American symbolism.

Many coin designs pay tribute to America and the spirit of liberty, but only the Walking Liberty Half Dollar is able to convey the message through a flowing design.

1917 Half Dollar

Image Source Flickr user PhotoAtelier

Valuing the 1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Because of the demand, most Walking Liberty Half Dollars are worth a premium. Those that are in a grade below Good 4 are mostly only worth silver value, which is currently $6.30.

Coins that are between Good 4 and Very Fine 20 tend to hover around the prices of $16–$19. Prices double to $39 if the coin is Extremely Fine 40. Coins below Extremely Fine 40 condition can be easily purchased at most dealers and online.

Uncirculated examples are worth much more than those that have seen circulation. A huge jump to $145 can be seen for coins in MS-60. MS-63 examples retail for about $235, whereas premium grade MS-65 coins realize a price of $1,225.

In 2016 a MS-67 1917 Walking Liberty Half Dollar sold for $39,950 at auction!

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