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HomeUS Coins1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

After sporadic production throughout the 1920s and the early ’30s, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar saw regular production at the Philadelphia Mint from 1934 onward. Incidentally, Philadelphia would be the only facility to strike the denomination each year through to the end of the series and beyond, taking only a one-year hiatus in 1970 when the Denver Mint struck coins for Uncirculated Coin Sets and the San Francisco Assay Office struck coins for Proof Sets.

With a healthy mintage of 9,522,200, the 1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar is the second-most common half dollar struck during the ’30s–three million coins behind the 1936 Philadelphia strike and about 360,000 ahead of the 1935. To this point in the series, only the 1917 Philadelphia issue, with its 12,292,000 coins, and the 1918-S, with its 10,282,000 coins, had higher mintages. Mintages for the denomination would explode in the 1940s. This is why collecting the Walking Liberty Half Dollar Short Set (1941-1947) is a popular entré to the series as a whole.

The 1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar typically comes well-struck and lustrous in Mint State. Expect some degree of tarnish or toning, given the coin’s age. Toning will range from incidental to predominant. Coins that exhibit PQ rainbow toning are rare for this date, especially in the upper-grade register. This issue trails behind the 1936 Walking Liberty Half Dollar in grading submissions by about 10%, although the distribution in grades MS65 and above is virtually on par for both dates.

How Much Is the 1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Worth?

1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Grade Distribution as of May 16, 2024.
1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Grade Distribution as of May 16, 2024. CAC coins represent stickered + graded.

As of May 15, 2024, the current combined certified population of 1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollars at CAC, NGC, and PCGS is 10,016 coins. This is an increase of 8,526 coins from when Bruce Fox wrote his Complete Guide to Walking Liberty Half Dollars in 1993, published just seven years after the founding of PCGS. This amounts to an average of 406 new grading events per year. It is not surprising, as later date Walking Liberty Half Dollars–while much scarcer than modern coins–are not generally considered elusive in Mint State.

Collectors will find the 1937 Walking Liberty Half Dollar easy to acquire in all grades through MS65. Circulated examples routinely sell on sites like eBay for about $20. Brilliant Uncirculated examples in grades up to MS64 (graded by CAC, NGC, or PCGS) will run about $150. A Gem MS65 sells for a slight premium over an MS64 and may be a better option for collectors willing to pay the difference for a better coin. At the MS67 level and beyond, coins generally trade for over $1,000.

Only a handful of the coins graded MS68 have been publicly traded at auction. We discuss these examples in depth below.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS68 (8, 5/2024), NGC MS68 (4, 5/2024), and CAC MS68 (4:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

  • PCGS MS68 CAC #38289422: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, March 26, 2020, Lot 312 – $29,375. Vivid rainbow toning on both sides. Streaky untoned patch around T of LIBERTY and at the bottom of the eagle’s left wing to AR. Ultra PQ coin.
  • NGC MS68 #3735213-004: Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2019, Lot 3590 – $11,400. Faint grainy brown diagonal toning pattern with a crescent of blue toning along the sun and hem of Liberty’s dress. Two darker toning streaks from the bottom of TR. Carbon spot above O of DOLLAR. Thin diagonal scratch below IT of UNITED. Minor scratches on the eagle’s left wing.
  • PCGS MS68 CAC #25311774: Heritage Auctions, June 5, 2014, Lot 4587 – $15,275. Pale goldenrod toning along the periphery. There is also a hint of blue and lilac.
  • PCGS MS68 CAC #25029081: Heritage Auctions, July 11, 2013, Lot 3190 – $35,250. Faint gold and blue toning.
  • PCGS MS68 CAC #25014753: As NGC MS68* #316966-002. “The Robert Moreno Collection,” Heritage Auctions, July 28, 2005, Lot 10037 – $13,800. Pop 1 in MS68* when offered. As NGC MS68* CAC #316966-002. “The Bob Simpson Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 11, 2010, Lot 3261 – $18,400. Re-encapsulated with the same number. CAC added. SIMPSON on insert. Vibrant gold and orange toning with a crescent band of blue and green along the rim. There is a thin diagonal untoned streak across the waist. Since this sale, the coin has crossed to PCGS.
  • PCGS MS68 #50097858: “The Joseph C. Thomas Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 30, 2009, Lot 2525 – $16,100. Faint brown toning along the rims with a hint of blue in the obverse center and around BE.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1937
Denomination: Half Dollar (50 Cents USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 9,522,200
Alloy: .900 Silver, .100 Copper
Weight: 12.5 g
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
REV Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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