The population of certified George Washington State quarter dollar
obverse/Sacagawea dollar reverse double-denomination mules has grown
by one, to 15.
And if you've been following the story of these errors over the
years, you won't be surprised to hear who owns it.
Professional Coin Grading Service has graded and encapsulated as
Mint State 66 what is now the 15th known example of the (2000)-P
error. It bears the obverse of a George Washington, State quarter
dollar and reverse of a Sacagawea dollar.
This newly certified piece is identified as an example struck from
Die Pair 1 from three known die pairs used to strike the errors.
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The newest piece reported has been acquired by New Mexico collector
Tommy Bolack. With his latest purchase, Bolack now owns 11 of the 15
publicly identified examples of the mule.
The name of the seller, the price paid and details of where the
error was found were not disclosed.
What is a mule?
A mule is a coin, medal or token struck from dies not normally
intended to be paired together. It derives its name from the animal
that is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse.
The double-denomination mule error pairs the George Washington
obverse from the State quarter dollar series with the Soaring Eagle
reverse of the Sacagawea dollar. Each side bears a denomination and
the coin is sometimes called a $1.25 piece.
The Washington obverse bears the P Mint mark but the 2000 date is
missing; it would have been found on the correct mate for either of
the mismatched pieces. On the State quarter dollar series, while the
Mint mark is on the obverse, the date of issue appears on the reverse
bearing each commemorative State quarter design. For the Sacagawea
dollar, the date would appear on the obverse.
The mules were struck at the Philadelphia Mint on manganese-brass
clad dollar planchets between dies fitted into a coinage press
dedicated to Sacagawea dollar production.
The error type 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 Numismatic Guaranty Corp. as
grading MS-66, but a month later, was crossed over into a Professional
Coin Grading Service slab, also as grading MS-66.
Three die pairs
Hobby experts by the fall of 2000 had determined that multiple die
pairs existed for the coin. The presence of more than a single die
pair would suggest that production of the errors was prolonged and the
initial mintages sizeable.
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.
➤ 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.
Cornering the market for the mules
Bolack has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars acquiring the
error coins. The highest publicly known price for any of his mule
errors is the $117,500 he paid to acquire a Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
MS-67, Die Pair 1 example from Stack's Bowers Galleries' Aug. 6, 2014, auction.