US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Jan. 18, 2021: An incredible discovery

A new mule, struck from the obverse die for a Sacagawea dollar and reverse die for a Presidential dollar, should electrify the hobby and start a search for more.

Original images courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

The incredible discovery of a previously unreported mule, bearing the obverse of a Sacagawea dollar and reverse of a Presidential dollar, should electrify the hobby and prod collectors and dealers alike to look for more examples.

This is arguably the best mule discovery since the Washington quarter dollar-Sacagawea dollar mules were discovered about two decades ago. Other mules have been reported since then, but it is unlikely additional examples of those coins await discovery in circulation.

Unlike those coins, the new discovery was found by a collector in a bag of mixed dollar coins obtained from a bank in 2019. The coin is graded About Uncirculated 58, which suggests that it was released into circulation, and if this one made it into circulation, it is possible, even likely, that more did as well, and are out there waiting to be found by some lucky collector or dealer. It is fairly unlikely that just one piece made it into circulation, though not impossible.

The discovery of the first Washington quarter dollar-Sacagawea dollar mule in 2000 generated huge excitement, since it was found in circulation. Additional pieces were found, with not quite 20 pieces are reported today. Whenever an example of one those coins appears at auction, prices usually top $100,000.

The full story of that mule remains somewhat cloudy. Three separate die marriages are known for the 2000 mules. Several Mint employees were eventually charged with crimes involving the unauthorized distribution of several of those coins, though it was never stated that they produced the coins deliberately. Thousands were struck from the three die pairings but the Mint managed to pull back most of them from the Federal Reserve before they could enter active circulation.

We will be following up on this new discovery to determine whether United States Mint officials were aware that the coin was produced. It is possible that Denver Mint employees discovered this mule shortly after it was produced and managed to keep most of them from entering circulation.

In the meantime, if you have bags of dollar coins, especially from 2014, I recommend you start searching through them. Who will be the second to discover one?

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