Proof Walking Liberty Half Dollars

Proof Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Although a few satin proofs have been rumored to exist for 1916 and 1917, the first true Proof Walking Liberty Half Dollars were struck for collectors in 1936. This began a brief era of proof coin production, which continued until 1942. Proof coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint and sold to collectors individually by denomination or as part of a complete annual proof set.

During the period of issuance, production levels increased for each subsequent year. Thus, the lowest mintage occurred for the 1936 Proof at 3,901 pieces, while the highest mintage occurred for the 1942 at 21,120. Although these figures are extremely low when compared to the production levels for circulation strikes, the proof coins were generally purchased by collectors and dealers and retained within collections. This preserved a large portion of the mintage for future generations.

Striking characteristics for the proof Walking Liberty Half Dollars are generally strong, with only minor weakness noted in select areas on some coins. More often detail is lost as a result of excessive polishing of the dies, which can eliminate details such as Liberty’s hand and the rays of the sun. For 1940 and 1941, excessive polishing resulted in the the designer’s initials “AW” being removed from some coins. The “no AW” variety is believed to be scarcer, but not all collectors are aware of the varieties.

Hairlines are a persistent problem for these early proof coins, often clearly visible because of the reflective fields. Pieces exhibiting cameo contrast are in the distinct minority, and command a significant premium when they are available.

Proof Walking Liberty Half Dollar Mintages

1936 3,901
1937 5,728
1938 8,152
1939 8,808
1940 11,279
1941 15,412
1942 21,120