Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollars were initially released by the United States Mint in 1916 and appeared until 1947. Showcased on the obverse is the image of "Walking Liberty" as designed by artist Adolph A. Weinman.
The reverse depicts a bald eagle. The obverse has long been considered one of the most beautiful ever struck on an American coin and was subsequently used on the American Silver Eagles since their debut in 1986.
Walking Liberty Half Dollars are composed of 90% silver with 0.3617 ounces of the precious metal (current melt values for the coin can be obtained by using the melt calculator in the right column). The coins have a total weight of 12.5 grams with a diameter of 30.6 mm.
Previous to their release, the U.S. Mint had been issuing the Barber Half Dollars since 1892. Those Barbers were not particularly liked by the public and replacements were sought for a new half dollar in 1916.
Historical Walking Liberty Half Dollar Silver Coin Melt Values
The new debut would occur after the Barbers had been struck for twenty-five years. That quarter century run was not by accident as Congress passed a law in 1890 allowing coin designs to be changed after twenty-five years.
With the help of the United States Commission of Fine Arts, sculptor Adolph A. Weinman was chosen to create the designs for the new half dollar. He chose to create an obverse with the image of a mythical figure of Liberty depicted as if walking. She is shown in a full gown with an American Flag draped across her shoulders. In one hand she holds a bouquet of olive branches while the other is depicted outstretched in front of her.
A sun is shown rising from the lower left of the obverse. Inscriptions on the obverse include "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST" and the year of minting.
The reverse of the silver coin contains an image of perched bald eagle on a mountaintop. Springing from the rock is a mountain pine. Reverse inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM" and "HALF DOLLAR."
In 1948, Walking Liberty Half Dollars were replaced by the Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar.
With the exception of a few key dates, a collection of Walking Liberty Half Dollars can be fairly easy and reasonable to obtain. This is the result of typically high mintages for most of the strikes.
Those coins that are of such a poor grade as to warrant little numismatic value still have solid intrinsic melt values associated with them due to their silver content.