US Coins

Market Analysis: Mint State series key in 1921-S half dollar

The 1921-S Walking Liberty half dollar is considered the rarest of the series in Mint State grades and this one, graded MS-64 by NGC with a green CAC sticker, brought $63,000.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The 1921-S Walking Liberty half dollar is a key to the series in all grades with modest mintage of 548,000, although that production is the largest of the three mints that struck half dollars that year. The San Francisco Mint coin leads the Philadelphia Mint half dollars (mintage of 246,000) and Denver halves (208,000 coins).

Of the three, the 1921-S Walking Liberty half dollar is the rarest in Mint State grades. The typical example shows a soft strike, dull luster and weak overall eye appeal. As Professional Coin Grading Service CoinFacts observes and population reports confirm, “apparently the 1921-S was not saved at the time of issue because when you get to grades Very Fine 20 and higher, the 1921-S becomes the rarest and most expensive Walking Liberty half dollar.”

Heritage offered one graded Mint State 64 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. housed in an old-style NGC slab, with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. The firm wrote, “This impressive Choice specimen exhibits well-detailed design elements, with a touch of the expected softness on Liberty’s wreath hand and the eagle’s leg.” It added, “The well-preserved surfaces are blanketed in attractive shades of golden-tan and lavender-gray toning, with occasional specks of amber.”

NGC has graded 54 in this grade, judging only 23 submissions finer. This San Francisco Mint rarity brought $63,000.

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