US Coins

1940 Walking Liberty half dollar rounds out impressive group:

A 1940 Walking Liberty half dollar with unusual obverse toning but spectacularly clean surfaces, grading MS-68, brought $2,585 at Heritage’s April 23 CSNS auction.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Especially for Mint State and Proof coins, eye appeal is an essential component of a coin’s grade. Grading services like Professional Coin Grading Service have informal ranges that they use to evaluate toning from amazing — for a coin that screams “Wow!” — to neutral for average coins, to ugly for unfortunately toned pieces. Great toning may elevate the grade of a coin by a grade point, just as ugly toning may take a point or two off. 

Here is one handsome half dollar from Heritage’s recent Central States Numismatic Society auctions. How would you evaluate its toning?

The Coin 

1940 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 

The Price

$2,585

The Story 

A 1940 Walking Liberty half dollar is generally a common coin and even in higher Mint State grades it’s not particularly challenging. In MS-68 it is undeniably scarce with Numismatic Guaranty Corp. grading just 16 in this grade with a single finer example.

This NGC MS-68 example has what’s described as “unusual but attractive obverse toning, predominantly copper-orange, [that] complements a rectangle of untoned silver-white, clearly caused by something that covered that area for years when the natural toning process was occurring.” It sold for $2,585, which is relatively low in relation to other comparably graded examples that have sold at auction in recent years, including one with lighter, more even golden toning that brought $3,525 at Heritage’s June 5, 2014, Long Beach Expo


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