Finest Known 1919-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar, MS66 PCGS1919-D 50C MS66 PCGS. Armistice Day, November 11, 1918 finally marked the end of World War I. Since 1914, much of America's economy had been bolstered by manufacturing and production for the war effort. Now, due to the slackening need for war related supplies, the economy began to soften as the United States entered a period of isolationism. The Volstead Act (the prohibition of manufacture of alcoholic beverages) was also passed by Congress. Imports and exports of all goods dropped noticeably. As a result, all three operational mints were ordered to produce smaller denomination coinage, Cents, Nickels, Dimes, not Quarters or Half Dollars (no Silver Dollars or gold issues were struck in 1919).
Several years earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt was disgusted with the coin designs in circulation at the time, and made it his mission to have all the coinage redesigned. Roosevelt was especially interested in gold coinage, however his wishes also brought about the Lincoln Cent in 1909, the Buffalo Nickel in 1913, and silver coins all in 1916. Adolph A. Weinman, the designer of the Mercury Dime, also prepared the Half Dollar design. Many consider it one of the most beautiful silver coins ever produced by the U.S. mint and one of the two most beautiful of all coinage designs along with the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. Even our present government gave a nod to these designs, choosing each for the recent American Eagle gold and silver coins introduced in 1986.
At the time, a discussion of this new design appeared in the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint:
The design of the half dollar bears a full length figure of Liberty, the folds of the Stars and Stripes flying to the breeze as a background, progressing in full stride toward the dawn of a new day, carrying the branches of laurel and oak, symbolical of civil and military glory. The hand of the figure is outstretched in bestowal of the spirit of Liberty. The reverse of the half dollar shows an eagle perched high upon a mountain crag, his wings unfolded, fearless in spirit and conscious of his power. Springing from a rift in the rock is a sapling of mountain pine, symbolical of America.
It was this commentary that prompted some to suggest various names for this coin: Liberty Walking; Liberty Striding; Walking Liberty; and Striding Liberty.
Among Half Dollars coined in the 20th century, the 1919 issues remain as some of the (conditionally) rarest. The Denver facility produced just 1.1 million coins, most of these were subsequently well worn from years in the channels of commerce, and during the Great Depression preceding the next World War. It is generally accepted among enthusiasts that the 1919-D is the rarest Walking Liberty Half Dollar at the fully struck Gem level of preservation (Les Fox, 1993). This is the most important '19-D we have ever offered as it is also the single finest example thus far certified by both services combined (9/04).
First, we should address the strike as it is the focal point on these often soft issues. Although, not absolutely full, there is clear definition of the thumb on Liberty's left hand. Her head is sharp with only the most minor softness on the highest point, and her skirt lines are fully visible to the knee. Each feather is well delineated on the typically weak eagle's breast. Next, the surfaces are smooth and satiny overall. For pedigree purposes we will identify a few microscopic marks that are present but do not detract from the coin's amazing appearance: a group of tiny milling marks is present in the right field adjacent to the folds in Liberty's cape and several ticks are seen on the eagle's lower legs. Finally, both sides present a glistening snow-white appearance, and are smooth and completely unspotted in any way. The luster of this coin parallels the remarkable strike, being intense and uninterrupted throughout.
We strongly encourage collectors who appreciate rarity, technical quality, and originality be prepared to enter strong bids when this unsurpassable Gem example crosses the auction block in Palm Beach, Florida. Perhaps, the winning bidder will be glad the Volstead Act was subsequently repealed in 1933, and wish to celebrate his new purchase with a glass of fine Cristal champagne.(#6578) (Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 24PZ, PCGS# 6578)
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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato is the culmination of more than 10 years of research into the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, one of the most coveted type coins in American numismatics and one about which remarkably little has been written.
This work will be the premier reference for 1796-1797 half dollars for years to come. Institutions having an extensive numismatic library or coin cabinet will find it a valuable complement to their holdings, and catalogers charged with writing up specimens for auction can now have an indispensable source of background and pedigree information. Likewise, coin dealers seeking to purchase one or more '96 or '97 half dollars for a client or for inventory, and collectors who own, have owned, or desire to own one will want this important reference work for their libraries.
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