Walking Liberty half dollars are one of the most beautiful of American coins. They age gracefully, and are a far less expensive to collect than the more popular Morgan silver dollar.
Their key date 1921-S, in MS-65 condition will sell for around $100,000. The 1893-S Morgan in MS-65 condition will bring nearly $700,000. In MS-60 they are about $20,000 compared to the 1893-S for $130,000.
The Walking Liberty isn’t quite the same bargain in AU however. The 1921-S goes for around $7,000 and the 1893-S Morgan goes for around $21,000. Instead of a 1 to 7 ratio in the MS categories, it’s only a 1 to 3 ratio in AU.
As you get into the late date Walkers the cost of mint state coins goes down considerably. Mint state examples are plentiful and cheap after 1935.
A complete date/mint set of MS-65 Walking Liberties would cost somewhere in the half million dollar range. So, the entire collection would cost less than one 1893-S Morgan in MS-65 condition.
I see four fundamental strategies for collecting Walking Liberties:
1. US half dollar type set
2. Walking Liberty year set
3. Walking Liberty complete date/mint set
4. Walking Liberty proof set
1. The US half dollar short, type set could include each of the following:
· Flowing Hair half
· Draped Bust half
· Capped bust
· Seated Liberty half
· Barber half
· Walking Liberty
· Franklin Kennedy
If you’re willing to accept lower mint state for the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust designs, this collection could be obtained for around $150,000.
2. The Walking Liberty year set would contain 25 coins for an example of one from each year this issue was minted. An example of this would be:
· 1916-P to 1921-P
· 1934-P to 1947-P
This strategy allows you to assemble each year of issue in mint condition without breaking the bank. It would be acceptable to have the rare dates in MS-64 alongside the common dates in MS-65. You’re looking at something under $40,000 for a collection like this.
3. A complete date/mint set would require 65 coins. A set like this could also use MS-65 examples for the common later date coins and MS-64 for the more expensive dates. Depending how you organize a collection like this, it might cost around $350,000 to complete.
4. Here’s the surprise. If you go for a proof set, there are only 7 coins minted as proofs for this series. Proofs are surprisingly inexpensive and even more beautiful than the circulation issue. There is only one key date in the proof series, and that’s 1936. A set of PF-65 Walking Liberty coins will cost just under $10,000.
I price mint state coins here because the mint state coins have the most demand and collector value. They will retain their prices better and increase more than their circulated versions.
As discussed in my article on Pivotal Grading Points, the greatest profit potential is to buy the coin just under the pivotal grade. That is often, but not always MS-64.
If you were to accept MS-64 as your grade standard, you could complete these set examples for considerably less money than described here. As demonstrated above a complete set is considerably less expensive than a complete date/mint Morgan set.