What You Need To Know----Walkers
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Hello Folks---Should like to say that I am sure that I will not remember to tell you everything in this post. So, if there is anything that I can help with, just ask here or PM me anytime. I will always share what I know. Please buy Walker books. The three that I recommend the most are Bruce Fox's book---a book by Dean Howe---and a third by Anthony Swiatek. If you intend on being a serious Walker collector, try to find and purchase these 3 books. Both the Fox and the Howe books are out of print----such a shame. Try to find one anyway. Next, I would recommend that you go very slowly and be extremely patient with yourself. You will find that the more stuff that you do know--- you will realize that you still do not know enough. Expect to make mistakes---noone is ever perfect. Walkers are usually broken down to the 'early' dates and mints [1916--33] and the later dates and mints of 1934--47. Yet you will find many older Whitman albums that went from 1916--40 and then 1941--47. So the 41--47 grouping became known as 'the short set'. This grouping of coins can usually be found without too much trouble in all grades. The only exceptions are the S minted coins in higher MS grades. Also fully struck S minted coins are harder to find and should be obtained when available at the right price. Most folks start with this short set and most people buy their 'type' coin out of these later date Walkers. However, if you want to set a goal that will take you awhile---try the 'early' dates. But do not start them unless you have plenty of patience and at least a moderate amount of money that you can spend. Myself, I had two sets of Walkers as a kid. Was missing 9 coins out of the 65 total in my best set. Collected them out of pocket change. When I started to finish this set in 1999, I called it my "Fine" set. I would recommend that anyone obtain a nice 'fine' set. These coins, in original fine, are a great set to collect. Mostly will not break your pocketbook. And you can upgrade as your experience level allows you to know what to buy. The toughest coins to obtain are the three 1921 coins and the three 1919 coins. Also the 1917S Obverse and the TRUE SLEEPER of the whole set the 1920D. These are the top 8 coins as I call them. In fine or above grade---in true original skinned condition---these 8 coins are extremely rare. Forget the mintages---they mean nothing. Forget the price guides. If you see these 8 dates in VF or better condition---in original skin---you have a fairly rare coin. The next 8 are the 16S, 17D Rev, 17D Obv, 18D, the 20S, 23S, 27S, and the 28S. Of this grouping, the sleepers here are the 20S and the 17D Rev. The 17D Rev was my last coin that I obtained for my Registry Set. The 20S is probably the toughest of this grouping to get a decently struck coin. Of these first and hardest to obtain 16 coins, everyone thinks that the 21S is the hardest---and is definitely the most expensive in the higher grades. But, this collector tells you that the 20D is, in reality, the toughest Walker in every grade above a fine----especially in VF, Xf, and Au grades. This coin is undervalued by leaps and bounds. Should cost every bit of what a 21S costs. Yet, when found, costs no more than a 1919 coin. I cannot explain why this is so---it just is. The next 9 coins are the 18, 17S Rev, 29S, 33S, 16, 16D, 20, 18S and the lowly 1917 in no particular order. But do not think that any of these are easy---even the 1917 is not always around when you want one. In a true XF or Au uncleaned grade, any of these last 9 coins is a beauty and a coin to be proud of. You might ask---why is he giving his trade secrets away. Well, I can tell you what to look for---but you have to find it. And folks, in true original condition, these 'early' Walkers are more of a notion than most would believe. Now, let us move onward a little and talk about cleaning, dipping and hairlines. These are faults that a coin may have. Dipping removes the luster of a coin. The more it is dipped---the less luster. The coin becomes dull looking. It looses its eye appeal. Be careful. Most of the TPGS will holder dipped coins. It is up to you whether to like them or to buy them. Hairlines are usually not good. Under magnification, if you can see them----everybody else can too. I try to stay away from wiped coins. These coins are of lower value. Cleaned coins also cause hairlines. There are many ways to clean a coin---even just soap and water will lighten up the coin's original color. It is up to you to look at enough coins to be able to pick up the cleanings, the dippings, the hairlines. And only experience will give you the ability to buy or pass on these coins. Just remember to not buy anything that you are unsure of. It is always better to pass on any coin [especially if it is an expensive one] than to buy it and find out later that you have been taken. Now, lets move on to the S minted coins. Most of the S mints and some of the early D minted coins can have 'soft' strikes. The 1919D and the 1920D, the 20S, the 27S, the 28S, the 40S, the 41S and the 44S coins are probably the worst for softer strikes. But most S mints must be looked at carefully. Try to buy well struck coins. They can be found---but are hard to find. They will bring a premium. Now, lets talk a little on toning. Walkers, for the most part, do not tone like Morgans. However, they can be found to be quite beautiful. Try to look at as many as you can. Learn what is "NORMAL" for a Walker. I have many toned Walkers---only one of the 'early' dates is a monster that I know is an NT coin. You will get better as you look at more coins. If it looks too good to be true, chances are that it is AT. Not that you cannot find some unusual toners. But, remember that Walkers are not Morgan Dollars. Now, a little on grading. Please get the ANA grading book. Also the Coin Values Mag grades a series in every issue. I find both of these to be helpful. Grading is indeed subjective---but I find these certain facts that I use. A VF coin must have its second breast line coming down and around ---it must have the keyhole visible. The Eagle's eye pupil must be able to be seen. An XF coin must have a full breast---totally complete. An AU coin must have the feathers in the Eagle's neck visible and 'should' have some of the thumb line visible---except for S minted soft strikes. A true unc coin will not have any rub---anywhere---especially on the left breast [ right as you look at the coin]. If it has rub, it is an AU coin. The higher the MS grade---you need the following: 1---less visible marks or abrasions 2---better eye appeal 3--- better strike, if you can get it---finger and thumb separation----full head detail---good breast detail on the Eagle 4---color should have original skin----with or without NT 5--Luster---cartwheel effect---little or no breaks in that luster 6--Center skirt lines should be complete. The higher the MS grade---the more of the above that you must have. Finally, I will just say this. Ask if you want to know more. I could go on for a long time. There are many other things that could be said---so much more. I will tell you the truth as I know it to be. Please those of you who know your series well---come forward and post with us. Just PM me----come on---tell a secret or two. Bob [supertooth]

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When I started collecting Walkers as a rookie in 2002, the hardest thing for me was distinguishing a dipped slider from a true ms because of the notorious weak strike. I know that one should look for a break in luster but, at times, it is easier said than done. This is a series that is very easy to grade in circulated grades but becomes more difficult in the mint state range, in my opinion.

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Thanks Bob for the post.

 

Another good article to read or to have is by the late famous Mr James Pryor (Half Dollar expert). You can get a copy from Coin Dealer's Newsletter website. Mr Pryor wrote an article on Full Strikes in November 1977. Great Read!

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Wow, Thank you. That is a well layed-out article, touching in every area to help launch us (me anyways) into collecting these "with" understanding.

 

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Knew that I would want to add a little more. When you are buying the 'early' Walkers, make sure about the grading of the coin. Price increments are very great from fine to VF---from vf to XF---from xf--AU and from au to MS. And, in almost every instance in the MS grades, the costs will go up quite a bit----for every higher point on the MS scale. In some series this is not quite the problem that it is with the Walkers. So make sure of the grade when you buy. Same with Ebay or even the TPGS slabs. Ebay sellers routinely overgrade by at least 10 points----many times by 20 points or more. Some TPGS have been known to overgrade somewhat as well. So the old saying is definitely true---'let the buyer beware'. Bob [supertooth]

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Bob [ supertooth ],

 

Thank you for the very informative thread. I started collecting Walking Liberty halves out of circulation back in the early 1960's. I only found coins dated in the late 1930's to 1947 that were [ at least to me ] really acceptable (VF20-AU53). All the ones circulating at the time dated from 1916 to 1936 were so well worn that I only kept a few scarcer dates. This partial set was sold off back in the early 1970's.

 

After a hiatus of 20 years, I slowly started collecting them again; this time I concentrated on uncleaned-original- AU 53 - 58 coins. I also bought Bruce Fox's book before I bought anything.

 

Yes, I agree with you on every point: keys are the three 1919's and the 1921's; the last two coins I needed to finish the set were the 1920-D & 1923-S- the best grade I could locate was AU53 for the 20-D & 23-S. I also noted that most - if not all - coins from 1927 & 1928 were the worst struck coins of this series. The 1929's are also tough to find well struck too , but there are some very decently struck coins out there if you're lucky enough to find them. I also noticed that the 40-S, 41-S and 44-S are softly struck, yet I was able to locate well struck 40-S & 44-S. My 41-S is as well struck as I could hope for, but not a hand/thumb split.

 

The majority of my set is "raw" and only a few of the keys are holdered ( in a mix of NGC/ICG/ANACS & PCGS) . Someday, I'll have the set certified, if for no other reason than to reconfirm my grading abilities. I concentrated on as well struck a coin ( full hand / thumb split & good head detail ) as I could find. All my coins have original skin and none have been dipped - let alone cleaned. The vast majority of this set was purchased with the guidance of Liz Coggan - who was invaluable in helping complete this set - and I feel the effort of locating strong strikes and original surfaces will be rewarded one day.

 

My impression of this series is that its one of the most majestic coins ever produced in this country.

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I would heartily recommend that anyone who has, or may have, any interest ever in WLHs to print out what Bob has written and save it! Bob's experience with WLHs is real and his collection has been attained through hard work, knowledge and perseverence. Therefore, you are not reading the words of a "virtual" expert, you are reading the words of the real thing.

 

I have not only been fortunate enough to have Bob tutor me on the finer points of this series, but he has also spent parts of two days with me pulling out boxes of WLHs to look at, and there is little experience that any WLH admirer can find more valuable than to look through a carefully assembled trove of WLHs.

 

Read his posts, learn what he is writing about and go view his Registry set. thumbsup2.gif

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QUOTE: " would heartily recommend that anyone who has, or may have, any interest ever in WLHs to print out what Bob has written "

 

Great idea. Done. Copied into word, formatted, put his name on it, printed, going into my WLH binder. Along with the other WLH comments from last few days. I'd buy Bob's DVD of instruction if he made one. Needless to say I've been impressed! 893applaud-thumb.gif

 

Regis

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Good article, Bob, I enjoyed reading it. Even though I do not collect Walkers, I have owned several through the years. I agree that anyone who is going to collect this series needs to read your analysis and buy the three books that you recommend, if they can find them.

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Bedtime reading for my little collector. smile.gif

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My set is complete with basically VF coins, which I consider to be the point at which Liberty's bust line is just showing, except for one coin: 1916-S. For some reason, it has just simply proven to be that elusive one, the one that everyone knows is tough, but is not considered a "key", yet I just cannot find one frustrated.gif. I liken it to the 1937-S Washington quarter - not considered one of the "keys", but just try and find one in MS-64!

 

One little thing I'd like to add: the 1938-D is overrated. It is by no means rare in any grade, and I think price guides inflate it's value somewhat.

 

Bob, thanks for the fantastic writeup.

 

James

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The Complete Guide to Walking Liberty Half Dollars by Bruce Fox is online at Stella.

 

LINK

 

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