1999-W 10 DOLLARS
GOLD BULLION COINS - Unfinished Proof Dies
PCGS No: 99942
Mintage: Unknown (estimated
In 1999, the Mint at West Point,
New York accidentally produced what may become one of the most important
rarities of the 20th Century by striking a limited quantity of
Uncirculated 1/4 ounce American Eagle gold coins with the "W"
mintmark below the date. Normally, the mintmark appears
only on Proof versions. However, in this case, the dies never
received the special polishing that gives Proof coins their deep,
mirror-like qualities. No one knows exactly how many were struck,
but experts estimate that only 400-600 examples have been found since the
mistake was first discovered in 2000.
How did the Unfinished Proof
1/4 ounce American Eagle gold coin come about? The answer comes from
examining how the Proof versions are created. Proof coins are struck
on special, high-quality presses using specially prepared blanks
(planchets) and specially prepared dies. The emphasis is on quality
over quantity and the goal is a coin with bright, mirror-like fields
surrounding frosty design elements, thus creating what is known as a
"cameo" effect. Special care is taken throughout the
process to ensure that the final product (the coin) is as perfect as
possible. This special care automatically limits production -- in
1999, the Mint at West Point produced only 34,416 Proof 1/4 ounce American
Eagle gold coins.
the other hand, the production of Uncirculated examples focuses more on
quantity than quality (although the final coin is still impressive
enough). The number of coins produced is limited only by the
availability of gold bullion, by estimated demand for the coins, and by
other production priorities -- in 1999, the Mint at West Point produced
564,232 Uncirculated 1/4 ounce American Eagle gold coins.
the numbers just listed, we see that more than 16 Uncirculated coins were
produced for every Proof example, highlighting the relationship between
quality and quantity.
care is taken to segregate the Proof production area and all of the
materials used in it. The fact that a die originally marked for use
in the production of Proof coins somehow made it into a press used to
strike Uncirculated coins is simply amazing. Proof dies are
carefully accounted for...how did this one escape? Press operators
carefully scrutinize the dies before they are placed in the presses...how
did the operator miss the mintmark on this one? Random coins from
production runs are examined for quality control...how did they miss the
mintmark? The very existence of the Unfinished Die 1/4 ounce
American Eagle gold coins seems to have required several lapses in quality
How rare will
Unfinished Proof Die 1/4 ounce American Eagle gold coins turn out to be? A
lot depends on how quickly the error was discovered at the Mint and how
many actually escaped. Did the press operator notice the mintmark
and stop the run? If the error was discovered, was an attempt made
to recover and destroy the coins that had already been minted? Even
if we knew the answers to these questions, we may never know the exact
number of Unfinished Proof Die coins that were struck. But, we do know
that after a year of intense searching for these rarities, surprisingly
few have shown up.
are they worth? Recent sales have occurred in the $500-1,000
range. If the rarity holds, these coins have every chance of being
as valuable as the much more common 1995-W Proof $1 Silver Eagle
(currently priced at $3,200 in Proof-69).
PCGS has graded less than
200 of the "Unfinished Die" coins, with half of them
appearing in the MS-69 grade.
courtesy of Global
Certification Services, Inc.
Sources and/or recommended
"The PCGS Population Report, January 2002" by The
Professional Coin Grading Service