Written by: Tony Davis
As I often find myself doing, I was sorting and organizing coins yesterday when I decided to take a break and watch one of my favorite shows, "The Walking Dead," with my wife. If you're not familiar with the show, it's a post-apocalyptic zombie show set in Atlanta that details the journey of a small group of strangers who band together in an attempt to discover answers, and a possible cure, for a worldwide zombie invasion. On the surface, the show sounds a bit silly, and I was personally a hold out until just recently when I decided to give the show a shot, when I became instantly hooked.
My plan was to watch an episode before going to bed, which didn't quite work out. Instead, four episodes and three hours later, it was finally time to go to bed. As I looked down at the coins still left on my sorting table, I was instantly drawn to the Walking Liberty half dollars, which are commonly referred to as "Walkers," the same term used to describe the zombies in the "Walking Dead." These coins are not only visually stunning, and one of my personal favorites, but are also some of the most affordable numismatic coins that one can buy. This got me to thinking, Walkers are something that all coin collectors should run to, not from.
The series and corresponding coin albums are typically separated into two date ranges. The relatively easy to assemble and affordable 1941-1947 date range and the slightly harder to come by and more expensive 1916-1940 coins. Beginning with the later range, as this is the more affordable series, most of these coins can be acquired in BU condition or better for $50 or less. This means that an entire album of high end numismatic coins can be had for $1,000 or less. Obviously, $1,000 is nothing to sneeze out; but as far as assembling a collection of high end numismatic coins, this is a relatively affordable way to do so. While most collectors prefer to assemble a collection of coins beginning with the first year of production, we recommend that you begin with the second half of this type series first.
The rest of the collection, consisting of 45 coins, can be a bit overwhelming and more impactful to your wallet, so we suggest that you next tackle the date range of 1934 - 1940, as these coins are still reasonably priced and are in wide supply. Since these coins are typically a bit more expensive than the 1941-1947 range, it might make sense to target coins in the AU range. A good budget to set is $75 per coin; although, some will be more expensive, such as the 1934-D, 1935-S, 1937-D and 1938-D coins, and some will be less. This 19 coin series in AU condition should be available for $1,400 - $1,500. Again, not a nominal amount by any means, but this is still within the budget of most coin collectors.
Now that you've assembled 39 of the 65 coins in the series, it's now time to tackle the more expensive and difficult to come by coins minted from 1916-1933. There's no way to sugarcoat it. This date range is going to cost you some bucks, so you should consider coins in VF - EF condition, several of which can be acquired for $100 or less a piece. Coins that can be acquired in EF condition for $100 or less include the following: 1917, 1917-S reverse mint mark, 1918-S, 1920, 1929-D, 1929-S and 1933-S. The difference in price between VF and EF coins for the key date coins in the series is substantial enough to seriously considering acquiring VF coins from the following dates: 1917-S obverse mint mark, 1919, 1919-D, 1919-S, 1920-D, 1921, 1921-D and 1921-S. If you take the above approach to assembling coins from 1916 - 1933, this date range should be available to most collectors for $5,000 or less, so all in, a nice relatively high end collection of Walking Liberty half dollars should be available to most collectors for $7,500 or less. You would be hard pressed to assemble any other type collection consisting of higher end coins for such a reasonable amount.
In summary, the Walking Liberty half dollar series should be a
collection that you run to, not from. Not only
is the Walking Liberty half dollar one of the most beautiful coins ever to be produced, but it is also a reasonably priced series, especially when compared to other type coins. Unlike most coin series, it's best to begin assembling the collection beginning with the later dates and working your way up to the earlier minted coins. Take your time, break the collection down into thirds, and before you know it, you will have assembled a high end collection of one of the most stunning coin types for $7,500 or less.