US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 1, 2021: A great boost for the hobby

This 2021 American Eagle quarter-ounce gold bullion coin should not have a W Mint mark, but does. It was struck from an unfinished Proof obverse die.

Original images by Todd Pollock, BluCC Photos.

The new American Eagle error variety reported this week may not be the “mule” collectors and dealers were hoping for, but it is an exciting find nonetheless that should send hobbyists searching their rolls of American Eagle gold bullion coins.

What has been verified is technically a mule; it is just not the kind we expected.

When U.S. Mint officials revealed that in addition to the completely new reverse designs would be released for the American Eagle gold and silver coins this year, modified obverse designs would also be released, collectors and dealers began hoping for the production of a “mule” — a coin with mismatched obverse and reverse, such as a gold American Eagle with the new reverse and the original 1986 reverse style rather than the new 2021 style.

The newly discovered bullion coin is a 2021 American Eagle quarter-ounce gold bullion coin was struck with the Reverse of 2021 design and a Mint marked Obverse of 2021 intended for a numismatic issue rather than a bullion issue.

The obverse die with its W Mint mark, intended for production at the West Point Mint of a Proof coin, did not receive the special processing that results in the Cameo Proof Finish typically used. Instead, it bears the same Uncirculated bullion finish seen on the reverse.

Such varieties are not unprecedented. As Paul Gilkes reports in his news coverage this week, similar American Eagle gold bullion coins have been produced in the past. All are scarce and all bring premiums well above a normal bullion coin of the same kind.

Errors and varieties on modern U.S. coins are encountered less frequently today than they were in the past, thanks to technical improvements that prevent such pieces from being struck or catch those that are produced. However, human frailties continue and mishaps slip past inspectors. The quarter-ounce coin is tiny and its Mint mark even tinier.

Such discoveries inject excitement into the collective bloodstream of the hobby. As news spreads of the discovery, expect additional examples to be found by lucky collectors and dealers. Anyone who has purchased any of the Reverse of 2021 quarter-ounce coins should inspect their holdings now.


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