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    Fascinating 1916 Walking Liberty Pattern Half Dollar, Judd-1797

    1916 50C Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1992, formerly Judd-1797, Pollock-2053, Low R.7, PR53 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 with 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. 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 variety. 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.
    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." The differences between these prototype strikings and the adopted design are sufficient enough for Dave Bowers to suggest: "...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."
    The specimen offered here appears to have been carried as a pocket piece or perhaps even circulated for a brief period of time. If so, imagine the curious looks it may have received or the elation upon its eventual discovery. The surfaces are a bright silver-gray and reveal a few light scratches on the major design elements upon close inspection, most notably on the eagle's forewing. A small lump of extra metal on the reverse border above ED of UNITED is useful for future attribution. A fascinating prototype for one of the most widely collected and beautiful designs in 20th century American numismatics.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 62290)


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 384

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