An example of the Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter dollar mule
error coin crossing the auction block in August is one of two examples
that are not among the census of 11 examples previously reported.
The number of known examples apparently now totals 13 pieces.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is scheduled to offer the piece, graded
Mint State 67 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., as part of its Aug. 9
Rarities Night session held in conjunction with the American
Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia.
The coin in the auction is of unidentified origin but it is not
among the 11 examples previously known publicly. Coin World
has accounted for 10 of the 11 previously known examples, and the coin
in the upcoming auction is not one of them. As for the 11th piece,
whose location Coin World could not determine, a grader who
has examined that piece and the two new coins, including the coin in
the August auction, said that they are different coins.
The appearance of the coin in the sale is the first time in more
than a decade that one of the mules is being offered at public auction.
A mule is a type of error coin struck from dies not intended to be
paired with one another.
The undated double-denominated Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter
dollar mule error coin shows the George Washington portrait used on
the obverse of State quarter dollars paired with the Soaring Eagle
reverse of the dollar. The coin is struck on a manganese-brass clad
dollar planchet. The mule errors were struck in 2000 at the
Philadelphia Mint on a coinage press dedicated to dollar coin production.
The mules appear without date or the P Mint mark since both
details are part of the regular Sacagawea dollar obverse design.
What makes the production of these mule errors more unusual is
that a State quarter dollar obverse die was paired with a Sacagawea
dollar reverse die not once, but three distinct times as determined by
The Stack’s Bowers offering, attributed as being struck at the
Philadelphia Mint from Die Pair 1, exhibits the characteristic die
crack from the rim through the F in OF on the Sacagawea dollar
reverse. Three die pairs are identified for the 11 examples publicly
identified for the error type.
Kris Briggs, marketing manager for Spectrum Group International
Inc., parent company to Stack’s Bowers Galleries, told Coin World June
27 that the consignor, who wishes to remain anonymous, indicates to
Stack’s Bowers that the coin consigned for sale Aug. 9 is not a new discovery.
Briggs told Coin World the auction company did not know the
consigned coin’s prior grading history, but provided Coin World with
the NGC certification number.
Scott Heller, NGC’s director of operations, said June 28 that
NGC’s submission records indicate that the coin bearing the
certification number for the coin Stack’s Bowers is offering was one
of a two-coin consignment submitted in March 2005 for authentication
Both of the coins were examples of the mule error, Heller said.
Heller said both submissions were graded MS-67 by NGC.
No attribution was made on either coin as to what die pair either
represents, Heller said.
David Camire, president of Numismatic
Conservation Services, and an attributer and grader of error coins for
NGC, said June 28 that the grading service does not keep a census for
its error coins.
Neither of the two coins from the March 2005 submission is among
the 11 examples listed in information found via the “Error News” link
on Fred Weinberg’s website at www.fredweinberg.com.
Camire said it is his belief that more than 11 examples of the
mule are extant, with additional pieces owned by individuals who do
not want to publicize their existence.
The error type, from Die Pair 1, was first discovered in May 2000
in Mountain Home, Ark., by Frank Wallis in an Uncirculated 25-coin
roll of Sacagawea dollars from First National Bank & Trust. The
Wallis coin was initially certified and encapsulated by NGC as MS-66,
but a month later, was crossed over into a Professional Coin Grading
Service encapsulation, also as MS-66.
The discovery coin was eventually sold by Auctions by Bowers and
Merena at the 2000 ANA Philadelphia Millennium Sale for $29,900.
The discovery coin passed from collector/dealer Dwight Manley to
Weinberg in late June 2001. Weinberg sold the Wallis example for
$67,000 to New Mexico collector Tommy Bolack.
Bolack has acquired eight of the 11 known mules through auction or
Bolack is reported to have paid as high as $75,000 for one of his mules.
Error coin experts indicate some of the mule examples may be
valued in six figures.
Of the eight examples Bolack owns, four are from Die Pair 1 (three
PCGS MS-66 coins and one PCGS MS-65 piece), three are from Die Pair 2
(three NGC-certified pieces — one MS-67, one MS-66 and one MS-64) and
one is a Die Pair 3 coin, certified by NGC as MS-65.
When contacted by Coin World June 27, Bolack said he
still owns and possesses the eight mules he had acquired and does not
plan to sell any.
Bolack said he plans to bid on the example being offered by
Stack’s Bowers Aug. 9.
Collector Greg Senske from Cape Girardeau, Mo., still owns the NGC
MS-67, Die Pair 3 mule he discovered in September 2000 in change from
a cashier at his company’s cafeteria. The coin had been in a 25-coin
roll of Uncirculated Sacagawea dollars.
The last coin listed in Weinberg’s census of the 11 examples of
the mule, the formerly newest reported, is an NGC MS-67, Die Pair 1 coin.
Nicholas P. Brown, owner of Majestic Rarities in Chicago, told
Coin World June 27, 2012, that he still has that NGC-encapsulated coin
physically in his possession, and that it’s not for sale. He said he
plans to display the coin at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in August
Brown confirmed to Coin World July 12, 2011, his purchase of the
NGC MS-67 coin from its owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. Brown
would not disclose the purchase price.
Brown had the coin submitted by its seller directly to NGC for
authentication, grading and encapsulation, before being forwarded to him.
Brown said it’s also likely he’ll bid Aug. 9 on the mule being
offered by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
The only coin that is unaccounted for among the 11 pieces
previously identified is a PCGS MS-65, Die Pair 1 example sold by
Weinberg to error coin dealer Arnold Margolis, who placed the coin in
September 2000 with an unidentified buyer for an undisclosed sum.
Coin World has been unable to determine the location of
this coin, but it is not the mule in the Stack’s Bowers auction.
Camire said June 28 that he previously examined the Margolis piece
in its PCGS holder and it is definitely not one of the two mules from
the March 2005 submission.
Production of the mules led to an intensive investigation by
Treasury and Mint authorities. The investigation led authorities to a
Federal Reserve-contracted coin terminal and wrapping facility located
near the Philadelphia Mint, and authorities advised officials there to
be on the lookout for any of the mule errors. An undisclosed number of
mules were found at the facility.
While a government investigation found that the errors were
produced by mistake and not deliberately, two former Philadelphia Mint
coin press operators were prosecuted on charges of selling, but not
stealing, up to five of the mules and converting the profits to their
U.S. Mint officials in the summer of 2002 indicated the
possibility they might seek forfeiture of some of the
double-denomination errors depending on when they were discovered and
whether they may have left the Philadelphia Mint illegally, but to
this date officials have not pursued civil forfeiture proceedings.
Three die pairs
Reports that the mule production was in the hundreds of thousands
of coins are unconfirmed.
Hobby experts by the fall of 2000 had
determined that multiple die pairs had produced the known errors,
which might suggest large numbers of the errors were struck.
Government investigators were slow to accept the findings of
numismatists that multiple die pairs were used in making the coins;
investigators did not accept the findings of numismatists until
Here’s how to distinguish the three die pairs:
➤ Die Pair 1: The reverse for Die Pair 1 exhibits a die crack in
the F in OF in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that is absent from the
reverses from Die Pairs 2 and 3. The obverse exhibits numerous radial
striations attributable to stresses involved during striking,
resulting from the slight differences in size between the two dies.
The discovery coin is from Die Pair 1.
➤ Die Pair 2: Die Pair 2 exhibits a perfect obverse die, but a
reverse that shows three noticeable die cracks: one each projecting
from the rightmost points of the stars above the E of ONE and D of
DOLLAR and a third, curved die crack running along the wing directly
above these two letters.
➤ Die Pair 3: For Die Pair 3, the obverse has been described as
“fresh and frosty.” The obverse of the Die Pair 3 coins shows just a
hint of the radial lines found on the discovery example. A small die
gouge appears in front of Washington’s lips. The reverse appears
perfect and exhibits no die cracks.
The undated double-denominated Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter
dollar mule error type is ranked No. 1 in the 2010 reference 100
Greatest U.S. Error Coins by Brown, Weinberg, and Camire. It is ranked
No. 2 in 100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins by Scott Schechter and Jeff Garrett.
For more information about the NGC MS-67, Die Pair 1 mule to be
offered Aug. 9 by Stack’s Bowers, contact Stack’s Bowers Galleries on
the West Coast at 800-458-4646, and on the East Coast toll free at
800-566-2580. Email the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
the company’s website at www.stacksbowers.com. ■