1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar

During the World War I years, coinage output in the United States boomed to meet the demands of a wartime economy. Following the Armistice in November 1918, American soldiers began returning home, soon to be confronted with slowing business conditions.(1)

By 1921, a post-war recession had fully set in. The production of all coins (except for the Morgan silver dollar, as required by law) was sharply curtailed in response to depressed economic activity.

Production of 1921 Walking Liberty half dollars fell by 92% compared to their 1920 levels. All three active mints at the time, Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, turned out only 246,000, 208,000, and 548,000 half dollars, respectively.(2)

All three are key dates to the Walking Liberty series, but of this trio, the 1921-D is the most elusive in grades lower than VF-20, where many rank-and-file collectors reside. In higher grades, it is the 1921-S that pulls ahead in value.(3)

Fascinating Fact: The recession of the early 1920s was exceptionally painful for agriculture because demand for grain exports declined dramatically after the Great War ended. It was the Denver Mint that primarily supplied coinage to the Midwestern farming states. Apparently, Treasury Department officials overestimated the number of half dollars needed in the struggling heartland economy. A total of 257,672 half dollars were struck at Denver in 1921, but 49,672 never left the Mint and were eventually melted, resulting in a net mintage of 208,000 for the 1921-D Walking Liberty half dollar, the lowest of the entire series.(4)(5)

As is always true, examples with good eye appeal have the best potential for price advancements, but in the case of the 1921-D Walker, this advice is especially prudent. Select examples with clean, original surfaces without distracting gouges or abrasions. You’ll be glad you did.(6)

In any grade, the 1921-D Walking Liberty half dollar is a classic 20th century rarity. No buyer should worry about a reversal of status for this key date Walker.

Estimated survivors in all grades: 10,000
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Learn more at PCGS.
PCGS Rarity Scale: 3.0
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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1. Heritage Auctions.  1921-D 50C.  Feb 2006 Auction.

2. Yeoman, R.S. and Garrett, Jeff, et al.  A Guide Book of United States Coins, 75th ed. Pelham, AL: Whitman Publishing, 2021.

3. PCGS.  1921-D 50C (Regular Strike).

4. NGC.  1921 D 50C MS.

5. Heritage Auctions.  1921-D 50C.  Jan 2005 Auction.

6. Stack's Bowers Galleries.  1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar.  Aug 2013 Auction.

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Coin images by Stack's Bowers Galleries.