The 1919 Walking Liberty half dollar is under a very big shadow cast by the 1919-D, which is now the key date if you consider only coins in MS-65 or higher grades. With the 1919-D at $130,000, who will pay much attention to the 1919 in MS-65 at $7,750.
The tables turn when you go down the scale to G-4. In that grade, the 1919 actually has a higher price, $26, as compared to $25.
Understanding the 1919 and even the 1919-D requires a little consideration of the situation at the time of issue. The Walker was a new design then, having just been introduced in 1916. There is no doubt that there was little collecting interest in the coin at that time. It was too expensive for most even if it only cost face value.
Not only did collectors not save the coin, there is pretty good evidence that dealers didn’t think much of it either. Dealers even ignored the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter, which had a mintage of 52,000. The 1919 half dollar had a mintage of 962,000. That should have raised a little attention. It was under 1 million and it was the lowest mintage half of that year. But that just wasn’t enough.
Collectors today recognize how scarce the 1919 is. It gets tough quickly going up the grading scale. In VG-8 it is $32.50, in Fine-12 it is $78.50 and in VF-20 it is $265.
In the days of filling Whitman albums with coins from circulation, finding a VF-20 anything valued at $265 would have been cause for great celebration.
Nowadays, though, condition rarity is the thing. If high grade coins don’t exist in large numbers, the prices become many multiples of values for more available pieces.
Is the 1919-D worth almost 17 times more money than the 1919? Let’s take a look at the grading service totals.
At Numismatic Guaranty Corporation they have seen the 1919 260 times and 37 were called MS-65 or better.
For the Professional Coin Grading Service, the totals are 333 seen and 63 called MS-65 or better.
That makes a combined total of 100 coins in MS-65 or better. That can sound like a significant number and it is certainly higher than the total for the 1919-D. Even so, the Walking Liberty half dollar is a very popular coin with dedicated specialists wanting examples in top grades.
It cannot be said that the 1919 will someday soar much higher and challenge the 1919-D in the upper grades, but it is safe to suggest that it is a much better date than many realize. It is also reasonable to think that it has room to move to higher prices especially if more demand surfaces. That makes the future for the 1919 a good one, which it deserves as this is a better but lesser known Walking Liberty half dollar.
But perhaps condition sensitive coin collectors should take a lesson from collectors of National Bank Notes. It is a well known fact that when two or three collectors compete with each other to collect a state, prices soar. When one or two of these then leaves the field, prices often plunge.
How many collectors in the future will pay $130,000 for an MS-65 Walker?
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