US Coins

Collector now owns 12 of 15 known Sacagawea mules

New Mexico collector Tommy Bolack now owns an even dozen of the known (2000)-P double-denomination mule error coins featuring a George Washington obverse from the State quarter dollar series and the Soaring Eagle reverse from the Sacagawea dollar.

Bolack’s latest acquisition brings to 12 the number of examples he owns among the now 16 known examples.

Bolack said May 7 that he paid $85,000 to acquire from Fred Weinberg at Fred Weinberg and Co. in Encino, Calif., on May 4 an example graded Mint State 66 by Professional Coin Grading Service. The coin is a previously unreported example. It is identified from Die Pair 1. Three different obverse and reverse die pairs are identified for the 16 known examples.

Weinberg said he secured the 16th example several weeks ago through another dealer. The provenance of the now 16th known example of the double-denomination error was not disclosed.

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. Mint State 67 example from Die Pair 1 from Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 6, 2014, auction.

Bolack said he has made overtures to acquire the examples he doesn’t own, if he’s been able to identify and contact their current owners.

What is the coin?

A mule error is a coin or medal struck with dies not intended to be used together. In the case of this double-denomination mule error, an obverse die from a State quarter dollar was set into a coinage press at the Philadelphia Mint in 2000 and mated with a reverse die from the Sacagawea dollar, in essence creating a $1.25 coin. The coin was struck on a manganese-brass clad dollar planchet on a press dedicated to Sacagawea dollar production.

The error coin appears without the date of issue because neither die in the mismated pair was designed to carry the date. The date for Sacagawea dollars appears on the obverse of a normal coin. On State quarter dollars, while the Mint mark appears in the right field on the obverse, the date appears on the reverse of normal coins.

The first example of the double-denomination mule error was reported to the numismatic community in May 2000 by Frank Wallis from Mountain View, Ark., who found an example in a 25-coin roll of Uncirculated circulation-quality Sacagawea dollars from First National Bank & Trust.

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A roster of the first 15 examples known and the price (where disclosed), along with grading service and grade, can be found at Weinberg’s website under the Error News tab here.

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All 16 known examples of the error have been graded and encapsulated by PCGS or Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

Diagnostics for the three known die pairs are as follows:

??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.

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