The Walking Liberty half dollar was a silver 50-cent piece or half dollar coin issued by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1947; it was designed by Adolph A. Weinman. In 1915, the new Mint Director, Robert W. Woolley, came to believe that he was not only allowed but required by law to replace coin designs that had been in use for 25 years. He therefore began the process of replacing the Barber coinage: dimes, quarters and half dollars, all bearing similar designs by long-time Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber, and first struck in 1892.
Woolley had the Commission of Fine Arts conduct a competition, as a result of which Weinman was selected to design the dime and half dollar. Weinman's design of Liberty striding towards the Sun for the half dollar proved difficult to perfect, and Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo, whose department included the Mint, considered having Barber create his own design. Mint officials were successful in getting Weinman's design into production, although it never struck very well, which may have been a factor in its replacement by the Franklin half dollar beginning in 1948. Nevertheless, art historian Cornelius Vermeule considered the piece to be among the most beautiful US coins. Since 1986, a modification of Weinman's obverse design has been used for the American Silver Eagle.
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Die: An engraved piece of metal used to stamp a design on a coin.
Die crack: A small, raised imperfection on a coin resulting from a crack in the stamping die.
Early release: The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) uses this designation for U.S. Bullion Coins during the first month of release from the U.S. Mint. To qualify for Early Release designation, NGC must receive the coins within 30 days of their release by the US Mint or properly documented as being received by an NGC approved entity within the same 30-day release period.
Encapsulated coin: A coin graded and authenticated by a professional coin service, then sealed in plastic.
Field: The typically flat area surrounding the relief and not used for legend or inscription.
Legal tender: Official money issued by the government.
Legend: The coin's primary lettering.
Lettered edge: An inscription added to the edge of a coin.
Luster: The quality of the surface brilliance on a Mint State or Uncirculated coin.
Mercury dime: Issued from 1916 to 1945, this U.S. dime featured a representation of Liberty in a winged hat that was commonly mistaken for the ancient god, Mercury.
Mint: A government controlled coin production facility.
Mint mark: A small letter stamped on a coin that indicates its mint origin, ex. "D" for Denver.
Mint Set: One coin from each of the available denominations in a particular year, produced by a single mint and made for circulation.
Mint State (Uncirculated): A regular production coin never used in trade and existing in its original condition.
Mintage: The number of coins produced.
NGC: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
Numismatics: The collection and study of monetary objects such as coins and paper bills.
Obverse: Heads, or a coin's front side.
Patina: Surface discoloration, typically green or brown, caused by oxidation over time.
PCGS: Professional Coin Grading Service.
Planchet: A blank metal piece used to produce a coin.
Proof: Expertly polished planchets and dies produce these coins which feature an extremely high quality strike, resulting in unmatched detail and brilliant surface finish.
Reeded edge: A coin edge finish featuring parallel vertical grooves all the way around.
Relief: The raised portion of a stamped design that sits above the coin's field.
Reverse: Tails, or coin's back side.
Rim: The raised ring around the perimeter of a coin designed to reduce wear on the relief.
Strike: The act of stamping a coin.
Truncation: The bottom edge of a portrait or bust.
Wheat penny: Lincoln cents issued from 1909 to 1958 bearing the wheat ear design on the reverse.