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Description

Finest Known 1916 Walking Liberty Half Pattern, PR65
Judd-1992, Formerly Judd-1797

1916 50C Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1992, formerly Judd-1797, Pollock-2053, Low R.7, PR65 NGC. A significant 20th century pattern with LIBERTY (appearing as LiberTy) and IN GOD WE TRUST in large letters in the right obverse field. The reverse features an eagle that is a likeness of the final version of the Walking Liberty design, but there the similarity ends. Above the eagle are the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR, while E PLURIBUS UNUM appears beneath the branch on which the eagle is perched. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.
There are several different variations of 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar patterns known. The earlier issues and the eighth edition of the Judd reference listed six varieties, while Andrew Pollock included a seventh variant. Based on the pedigree research of Saul Teichman on his uspatterns.com website, only about 20 examples of all different varieties are currently known. Five of these are in the Smithsonian Institution, leaving a net available population of just 15 coins.
This particular pattern variety comprises eight of the extant specimens, two being impounded at the Smithsonian. It is widely believed to be the Morris Evans piece, sold by Bowers and Merena in August, 1998 as an uncertified (and moderately toned) PR64 where it sold for what seems now like the bargain price of $40,250. The surfaces here display a radiant gray-silver finish with innumerable die striations in the field. There are no abrasions or other notable disturbances to report on either side.
Collectors were essentially unaware of the prototype 1916 strikings until the late 1930s when one was described in the April 1937 issue of The Numismatist. In what is relatively recent research, Mint Director Robert Woolley discussed the new design in his annual report for the fiscal year ending June 1916: "The obverse of the half dollar bears a full length figure of Liberty with a background of the American flag flying to the breeze. The goddess is striding toward the dawn of a new day, carrying laurel and oak branches, symbolic of civic and military glory. The reverse shows an eagle perched high up on a mountain crag, wings unfolded. Growing from a rift in the rock is a sapling of mountain pine, symbolic of America."
For the pattern or advanced Walking Liberty specialist, this is an extremely important opportunity, as is any offering of a 1916 pattern coin, regardless of the denomination. Dave Bowers opined that: "...the Adolph A. Weinman designs for the 1916 'Mercury' dime and the 1916 Liberty Walking half dollar were made to illustrate general concepts rather than as a proposal for a completely finished design." Of course, this only adds to the fascination and the mystique behind these rare pieces. The specimen offered here is quite possibly the finest available of any 1916 half dollar pattern and should generate unprecedented interest. (NGC ID# 2AMY, PCGS# 62290)

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Auction Dates
Jul-Aug, 2008
30th-3rd
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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