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The 1938-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - September 22, 2022

The 1938-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar is the third-rarest business-strike issue in the entire series. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.
Click image to enlarge.

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is an excellent coin not just for its aesthetic beauty but also its terrific collectability – it’s one of those coins that people just love to collect by date and mintmark. And who can deny the plethora of merits going for this series? It offers many dozens of regular-strike issues along with a decent array of key dates, semi keys, and even a notable variety or two for good measure. It’s also one of the most popular series on the PCGS Set Registry. Among the scarcities of this series is the 1938-D, a Denver Mint coin with a tantalizingly low mintage of just 491,600 yet offering relative affordability and thus remaining financially approachable for the plurality of collectors.

PCGS estimates approximately 30,000, or less than 10% of the original mintage, survive to this day – a roundly decent number, thanks to those who hoarded this coin from the get-go. Collecting contemporary coinage by date and mintmark had really taken off by the mid-1930s (even despite the ongoing economic pangs of the Great Depression). By this time, those who were financially able to do so were collecting rolls of coins straight from the bank; with the knowledge that the 1938-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar would be a low-mintage coin, collectors scurried to save examples of this coin right from the start.

Of course, the majority of these coins reached circulation and, with the half dollar a workhorse coin in the 1930s, many were spent as money and subsequently worn to virtual oblivion. Today, the 1938-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar is scarce in all grades and holds the title as the third-rarest coin (by mintage) among the business strikes of the series – behind only the key dates of the 1921 and 1921-D.

Even in a grade of G4, the 1938-D “Walker” retails for about $65 and in the moderately worn grade of F12 it fetches $90. In XF40, prices climb to $200, and in AU58 they soar to $600 and beyond. Expectedly, Mint State specimens are the toughest of all, with prices eclipsing $900 in MS63 and $1,500 in MS65. The coin becomes a true rarity in the grades of MS67 and higher, where prices easily exceed $5,000. The issue’s record price belongs to an MS67+ specimen that sold in a September 2020 Heritage Auctions event for a stunning $44,400.

Article provided by PCGS at
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