WASHINGTON QUARTER/ SACAJAWEA DOLLAR MULE
Known examples (in order
1. PCGS MS-66 (formerly NGC MS-66). Discovered by Frank Wallis of
Mountain Home, Arkansas in May, 2000. Sold by Auctions by
Bowers and Merena, Inc. on August 9, 2000 for $29,900.00. Reverse A.
2. NGC MS-67. Found in
a U.S. Post Office vending machine and brokered by Delaware Valley Rare
Coins of Pennsylvania who sold it on eBay, July 7,
2000 for $41,395.00 - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc. "Long Beach
Signature Sale", May-June, 2001, sold for $56,350. Reverse B.
3. NGC MS-66. Sold by
Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc. on August 6, 2000
for $31,050.00 - offered on eBay (#1308506580) in December 2001, where it
failed to meet the reserve price despite a top bid of $60,100.00 from Fred
Weinberg. Reverse B.
4. PCGS MS-65. Fred
Weinberg - sold by Arnold Margolis around September, 2000 for $47,500.00 -
Midwest collector. Reverse A.
5. NGC MS-67.
Discovered in change August 30, 2000 by Greg Senske of Cape Girardeau,
Missouri. Die characteristics unlike any of the first four examples
listed above. Obverse: small die gouge in front of Washington's lips and
a small area of die lines in the space in the field just above the hair
curl. Reverse C.
6. PCGS MS-66.
Displayed by Fred Weinberg at the October 2000 Long Beach Coin and
Collectibles Expo. Die characteristics match those of the first and
fourth examples listed above. Reverse A.
Reverse A: Perfect.
Reverse B: Die crack near the bottom of the eagle's right wing and die
cracks in the stars above the E in ONE and D in DOLLAR.
Reverse C: Perfect (possibly an early state of Reverse A)
Images courtesy of Heritage
The following Press Release was sent via e-mail by Heritage
Numismatic Auctions on July 3, 2000
recently discovered and widely publicized Mint error--the first of its
kind in more than 200 years of American coinage history - will sell as part of Heritage Numismatic Auctions' upcoming Philadelphia 2000
Signature Sale. The coin in question combines the obverse (or front) of a
Washington quarter with the reverse (or back) of the new Sacagawea dollar.
"This muling error,
putting an incorrect front and back together, is the first of its type on
a circulating U.S. coin," noted Heritage's Executive VP Greg Rohan.
"The example that we will be offering, one of only three coins
found so far, has been authenticated by the Numismatic Guaranty
Corporation of America (NGC) and given the grade of MS 66. The coin will
be sold as part of our Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale, which is
scheduled for August 6-7 at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel, 21 N. Juniper,
Philadelphia, PA 19107. This event will mark the first live public
auction appearance of this rare and interesting error."
The U.S. Mint began production of circulating coins in 1793 with the
delivery of fewer than 150,000 half cents and cents. From this seemingly
insignificant beginning, the Mint has expanded to include four facilities,
one each in Philadelphia, West Point, Denver, and San Francisco, with the
combined capability to produce in excess of 29 billion coins per year.
Throughout this 208-year period, and notwithstanding the steady increase
to the production levels of today, the Mint has run a pretty tight ship in
terms of quality control. Relatively few major error coins of any kind
have been produced, and even fewer have escaped the watchful eyes of Mint
employees to find their way into general circulation.
Of course, error coins of various kinds do turn up in pocket change from
time to time. The occasional off center Lincoln cent, while intriguing to
behold, is neither individually significant nor particularly valuable.
There is one type of Mint error, however, that was unknown on a circulating coin
until now, and, as such, it represents a numismatic discovery that has
already become a legend in its own time.
The terms "mule" or "muling error" evoke both
curiosity and consternation in the minds of numismatists. The latter
emotion seems to stem from the mysterious circumstances under which the
Mint produced some of the most famous mules. While the Mint has produced
numerous pattern and restrike mules since its birth, the most popular
numismatic reference, A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman,
mentions the term most prominently in reference to only one issue--the
Gobrecht dollar patterns of 1836-1839. Page 177 of the 53rd edition of
this book includes the following statement under the Gobrecht dollar
header: "Mules with wrong edge or die combinations also exist and all
are rare." In addition to being rare, there is still considerable
debate surrounding both the time that these pieces were produced and their
status as legitimate U.S. coins. Suffice it to say that sometime between
1867-1878, someone at the Mint took the obverse die of one Gobrecht dollar
pattern and combined it with the reverse of a different Gobrecht dollar
pattern to produce mules for special distribution. For more information on
this subject, and for information on the 1836 Gobrecht dollar mule
(Judd-63 Restrike) that Heritage will also be offering as part of its
Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale, visit http://www.HeritageCoin.com
: Upcoming Auction Highlights.
Although pattern and restrike mules are rare coins, the fact that they
were produced intentionally, albeit if somewhat clandestinely, has limited
their appeal to only the most advanced numismatic specialists. A muling
error on a circulating coin, on the other hand, is guaranteed to attract
attention for several reasons. First, such an error would be the first of
its kind in the history of the U.S. Mint. Secondly, this error is just
that--an error that was produced by accident and unknowingly released into
circulation. Finally, as the "thrill of the hunt" takes over and
both numismatists and non-collectors across the country search through
their pocket change with the potential for discovering a rare and valuable
coin, this coin will doubtless achieve great and lasting fame.
Indeed, this error has already been featured in countless magazines,
newspapers, and national television and radio shows.
"There is one further variable that one must take into account when
evaluating the potential popularity of a muling error on a circulating
coin," stated Bob Korver, Heritage's Auction Director. "That
factor is, of course, the coin(s) that are involved in the error. A mule
that combines the obverse and reverse of two different denominations would
be rarer and more significant than, say, a mule that combines the dies of
two different varieties of the same denomination."
"Furthermore," continued Korver, "new issues and/or
denominations always receive a considerable amount of public interest,
positive, negative, or otherwise. Coins such as the Statehood quarters and
the new Sacagawea dollar have dominated both the numismatic and general
presses since before the time of actual production. Everyone in the
country is aware of these coins, and
everyone is looking for them for either their novelty or their value as
collectibles. The muling error that has affected both of these series
could not have come at a better time. To use a metaphor, I will compare
Sacagawea dollar-Washington quarter muling error to the closing act at a
musical concert. The final performer/group has the advantage of taking
center stage in an arena whose seats have already been filled due to the
popularity of the entertainer(s) who have gone before. Likewise, this
muling error is making its entrance into a pre-prepared market. It is
literally the wind that is fanning the current numismatic firestorm."
The first Sacagawea dollar-Washington quarter mule was discovered in late
May in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Frank Wallis found that specimen in an
Uncirculated roll of Sacagawea dollars that he purchased from the First
National Bank & Trust. As this coin was the only known example of this
at that time, a clamor arose over its authenticity and legality. There was
even some speculation that the coin may have been produced intentionally
by a Mint employee just like some of the Gobrecht dollar restrikes of
1867-1878. On June 19, however, the U.S. Mint issued a press release in
which they acknowledged the Sacagawea dollar-Washington quarter mule as a
But was the coin legal to own? The answer to this question lies in the
manner in which the error was produced. It appears that on that fateful
day in the Philadelphia Mint, at least one of the coin presses was engaged
striking 2000-P Sacagawea dollars. During this process, the obverse die
wore down and/or cracked, a normal occurrence given the pressure with
which coins are struck. A Mint employee stopped the press, removed the
obverse die, and went to the die vault to seek a replacement. The reverse
die, although worn and cracked, was still capable of producing coins. The
from the vault with the new obverse die, installed it in the press, and
resumed production. An error befell the press sometime thereafter, an act
that forced the employee to halt production. Upon closer inspection of the
press and the coins that it had been striking, the employee discovered
that he/she had inadvertently installed the obverse die for the Washington
quarter. By this time, several thousand Sacagawea dollar-Washington
quarter mules had been produced.
Mint employees then proceeded to scour the small bins into which the
Sacagawea dollars had been fed, culling all of the mules that they could
find and tossing them back into the melting pot. According to government
sources, all of the examples were destroyed in this manner. But apparently
they missed at least three.
Indeed, the discovery of the example in Arkansas confirms that some of the
mules must have escaped the Mint through regular channels. The June 26
edition of Coin World also made reference to Title 31, Section 5112,
Subsection D of the U.S. Code, which states: "United States coins
shall have the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST. The obverse of each coin shall
have the inscription LIBERTY. The reverse side of each coin shall have the
inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM and a
designation of the value of the coin." As the Sacagawea
dollar-Washington quarter mule was released from the Mint through proper
channels, and since each example produced in this manner will conform to
this subsection of the U.S. Code, it is perfectly legal to own.
"While this error is a genuine product of the U.S. Mint, I find it
ironic that it exists at all," noted Korver. "The initial
proposal to produce the Sacagawea dollar met with criticism that drew
heavily upon the ill-fated experience of the Anthony dollar. Many felt
that the Sacagawea dollar would be easily confused with the similarly
sized Washington quarter. Eager to endorse the new golden dollar, Treasury
officials assured us that this would
not happen. Yet, it appears that at least one person, an employee of the
Mint no less, did confuse the Sacagawea dollar with the Washington quarter
when he/she obtained the replacement obverse die from the vault room on
that day of production."
The unique status of the Arkansas specimen was short-lived, however. A
second Sacagawea dollar-Washington quarter mule turned up in change given
by a Post Office stamp vending machine on the east coast. A 35-year old
resident of north Philadelphia also found another specimen, which he
eventually sold to a local dealer. It is the latter coin, now graded MS 66
by NGC, that Heritage will be offering as part of their Philadelphia 2000
Heritage Co-Chairman Jim Halperin was quick to comment on the significance
of the example that his company is handling. "The best thing that
could have happened to the Arkansas specimen is that other examples were
found. Sometimes a coin is actually hurt by its own rarity. Take for
1873-CC No Arrows dime. It is true that this unique coin is one of the
premier rarities in U.S. numismatics. Yet because of its rarity, most
collectors simply ignore it as a non-collectible issue. I do not feel that
the Sacagawea dollar-Washington quarter mule will suffer a similar fate.
Now that there are several examples known, we can actually begin to talk
about a 'market' for this item. Collectors may start to include the error
as part of their dollar sets, a fact that will only increase the demand
for every known example."
As implied above, this error was struck on a Sacagawea dollar planchet.
The reverse is that of the dollar, with a die crack running from the rim
through the letter F in OF to the tip of the eagle's wing. This feature is
diagnostic and confirms that the reverse die had started to wear
significantly by the time that the error was produced. The obverse is that
of the new Statehood quarter. Since the dollar planchet is slightly larger
than that of the quarter, the obverse displays evidence of metal flow
toward the rims. Furthermore, this is a fascinating piece because neither
obverse of the Statehood quarter nor the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar
display their issue's date. Had this error surfaced in 2001, there would
be no way to tell that the mules were produced in 2000."
Numismatic News, October 10, 2000, pp. 1 and 64.
Coin World, October 9, 2000,
pp. 1, 78, and 97.