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Putting Together a PCGS MS66 Short Set of Walking Liberty Halves

 
We have explored putting together sets of Mint State (MS) Walking Liberty Halves in MS63, MS64 and MS65.  Putting together any of those sets are achievable and within most budgets.  But if you want some real GEMS and want a spectacular set, then a MS66 set can be a good challenge.  Going higher to MS67 will be next to impossible as several dates have certified populations less than 10.  But in MS66, each coin has at least several hundred available.  Completing this set should give you an excellent set of coins that you can be truly proud of.  Of course that pride will cost you.  The lowest cost coin will run around $275 and the highest cost coin will be around $1,800.  These are without PCGS + designations.

Unlike some of the lower MS coins, each coin in this range, with a few exceptions, should have great strike, great eye appeal and will be problem free.  Otherwise they would not be MS66.  As always though, buy the coin, not the holder.  You may very well find non worthy MS66 coins in MS66 holders.

As with the other sets I have written about (MS63MS64 and MS65) we will define the short set as 1941 through 1947, including all 3 mints.  Some will argue that a short set may include more dates, but that is the beauty of coin collecting.  You can define what you want to collect.  The set that runs from 1941 through 1947 is convenient from the perspective that is contains 20 coins and represents all the dates of Walking Liberty Halves from the decade of the 40’s.  (Technically, a decade starts with year 1, or 1941).

As mentioned in other articles, mintages of Walking Liberty Halves for this set are quite low compared to mintages of today.  This is especially true for the “D” and “S” coins.  But despite having low mintages, putting together a set in MS66 condition is quite feasible, with time and patience.  Some of the coins may not come available for months.  A complete set might cost you nearly $10,000.  That is a lot of money for 20 half dollar coins.

When looking to complete this set, you might be tempted to buy the coins you find first, which might typically be “P” coins.  I would instead encourage you to start looking for the tougher coins first.  These would be 1941-S, 1942-S and 1944-S.  Each of these has a population report of less than 400 examples.  The 1943-S has less than 500 examples in PCGS certified condition so it could be almost as tough to get.  As you look for the tougher coins, you are likely to come across better examples of the more common dates and you can then afford to be pickier.  The collectors who are holding on to the MS66 coins are probably collectors not looking to sell so this is a set you will not complete in a short order of time.

Below is a chart for each coin in this series in MS66 and my opinion as to the difficulty in obtaining each one, the estimated certified PCGS population and what you might expect to pay for each coin.  Good luck on your challenge on completing this set.

Good luck on your challenge on completing this set

Date/Mint

Mintage

Notes

Est

Est

Pop

Cost

1941 P

24,207,412

In MS66, this coin is readily available and is the 2nd most common grade certified.  Look for bright coins with a good strike as survivors will vary in quality.  With many examples available, you can afford to wait and be picky.

Over 2500 examples have been certified.  2nd most of any other grade for this date

$275

1941 D

11,248,400

In MS66, this coin has over 1,300 examples.  Not quite as many as the 1941-P, but enough to go around.  Look for bright, well struck coins as most coins from Denver in this year are not well struck. 

Over 1300 examples have been certified by PCGS.

$275

1941 S

8,098,000

While not the lowest mintage of the series, the MS66 grade for this date is the 2ndlowest in terms of total certified population at MS66.  It is also the most expensive.  Most, if not all coins will be weakly struck, especially near the center of the obverse.  Far more examples exist in MS64 condition for this date.  A true full strike coin in this date may not exist. The weaker strikes have likely resulted in the higher population in MS64 as MS65 and MS66 candidate coins simply did not make the grade.  If you find a nice example in an auction, bidding could bring the cost well over the listed retail as a “+” certified coin retails for over $2,850.  You have to believe there are some MS66 coins that will get the “+” cert.

Only 370 or so examples have been certified by PCGS. 

$1,800

1942 P

47,839,120

This coin has the 2ndhighest mintage in the short set, and as such is readily available in MS66 condition.  You can be picky as there are plenty to go around.  Most examples are nice, so be sure to wait to get a good example as the price differential may be minimal.

Over 2,300 examples in MS66 have been certified

$260

1942 D

10,973,800

In Mint State, including MS66, this is around the 5th rarest of the short set.  Still, it is readily available.  Many coins will exhibit weakness in the right hand, skirt lines on the left thigh and head.

Fewer than 1,000 examples exist in MS66. 

$400

1942 S

12,708,000

The 1942-S is very rare in high grades (MS66 and above). In MS66, it is the coin with the lowest certified MS66 population.  Not as expensive as the 1941-S, but not cheap either.  Coins in this grade will typically exhibit a weak strike.  Most, if not all examples will be flatly struck in the center of the obverse.  Liberty’s Head and eagle’s breast will be softly struck.

Only 325 coins have been certified at this grade.

$1,100

1943 P

53,190,000

The 1943 is the highest mintage of the short set.  While it has the highest mintage, it comes in 3rd place for the number of MS66 certified examples.  When looking at coins in this grade, there are many to choose from, so you can be picky and find a well struck coin.

Nearly 2,700 coins have been certified as MS66

$260

1943 D

11,346,000

There was considerable strike variation for this year.  Be sure to select a coin that has a better than average strike.

Around 1,450 examples of MS66 coins have been certified

$300

1943 S

13,450,000

In this grade, this coin has the 4th lowest certified PCGS population.  Despite a higher mintage for the “S” coin compared to the “D” examples for 1943, “S” coins graded MS66 are less available.  Like the 1942-S, it is usually a weaker struck coin, especially near the center.

Over 470 examples have been certified as MS66 by PCGS

$700

1944 P

28,206,000

As with other Philadelphia coins, this date has high mintage but is not as available as you would think when compared to lower mintage dates.  Still there should be plenty to go around.  Some coins will be lightly struck so you may want to closely examine examples to find a better struck coin. 

Over 1,000 examples have been certified by PCGS as MS66

$285

1944 D

9,769,000

Despite less than 10 million coins minted, the certified MS66 population is in the middle of the pack.  Quality of strike will be similar to the 1943-D, but sharp strikes can be found if you have the time

Around 1,500 examples have been certified by PCGS as MS66

$285

1944 S

8,904,000

While only less than a million difference in mintage compared to the 1944-D, the 1944-S is a much tougher coin to get in MS66.  It will be the 2nd or 3rd lowest certified examples for MS66.  Far more examples exist in MS64 than MS65 and above MS65 are exceedingly scarce, like due to the typical weak strike.

As of this writing, only 342 Walking Liberty Halves with the 1944-S date have been certified PCGS MS66

$1000

1945 P

31,502,000

Another plentiful “P” mint coin.  This coin should be easily obtainable in MS66.  Bold and full strikes are available so do not settle for the 1st MS66 you see. 

Nearly 1,400 examples have been certified in MS66 condition

$275

1945 D

9,966,800

Despite a total mintage of only 1/3 of the 1945 P, certified MS66 population is actually more than the 1944 P making this coin easy to obtain.  Unlike other “D” coins before it, most examples of this date and mint should be bold to full strikes.

Over 1,700 examples have been certified as MS66 by PCGS

$275

1945 S

10,156,000

While total mintage is greater than its “D” counterpart, certified MS66 examples are much lower.  Around 1000 examples fewer, while more available than its “S” counterparts, this coin could still be a tough one to fine.  Strike will be a little weaker.

Over 730 coins have been certified as MS66 for this year and mint

$500

1946 P

12,118,000

The 1946 P is the second lowest mintage of the “P” coins in the short set.  But that does not make it rare, as its mintage is still higher than many of the “D” and “S” coins.  As such, examples should slightly more available that the “D” and “S” coins.  Coins will typically be boldly or fully struck.

Over 840 examples have been certified by PCGS

$400

1946 D

2,151,000

Despite its low mintage compared to other dates/mints, and the fact that it has the lowest mintage of the shortset, it has a high total of MS66 certified coins.  This date has more examples certified than almost all others in the short set.  Odd.  Many coins will have a soft strike so hold out for better struck coins.

Over 1,400 MS66 certified examples have been graded

$260

1946 S

3,724,000

Despite a lower mintage than many other “S” coins, and well lower than “P” coins, it has a healthy population of MS66 certified coins, relatively speaking. While not the worst struck coin in the series, most examples will exhibit poor strike.

Over 1,400 examples have been certified.

$325

1947 P

4,094,000

The lowest mintage of all Philadelphia coins in the set.  The price will reflect that as compared to other “P” coins.  Unlike other “P” coins, this one is typically not as well struck as other “P” coins.

Over 860 examples have been certified in MS66

$425

1947 D

3,900,600

Despite its lower mintage compared to the 1947 P, there are more certified examples available in MS66 than the 1947 P, but not by that many.  Enough examples exist that finding a well struck MS66 should not be a problem.  Strike is better than the 1947 “P” counterpart and examples exist of well struck coins. 

Over 900 examples have been certified in MS66 condition

$350

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

 

Values are estimate retail prices and will vary according to market conditions

 

 



Keith Scott has been a collector for over 30 years. His website has US coins for sale. He also writes Coin Collecting Articles for fun. Visit his websites for a history of US coins, metal market updates and news about your favorite coins.

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