US Coins

Mule error realizes $84,000 in Heritage sale

Unique mule bears the obverse of a Sacagawea dollar and the reverse of a Presidential dollar. It sold for $84,000 in an April 24 Heritage auction.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A unique 2014 mule bearing a Sacagawea dollar obverse and Presidential dollar reverse realized $84,000 on April 24 in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night auction in Dallas, in its first appearance in the marketplace.

The mule coin was authenticated several months ago by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. The edge inscription for the coin bears the date 2014 and the D Mint mark of the Denver Mint.

The coin was hammered at $70,000, with the final price including the firm’s buyer’s fee.

The coin is one of a tiny number of U.S. coins struck from mispaired dies, the most famous arguably being the mules struck bearing the obverse of a State quarter dollar and the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar. Other U.S. mules include odd pairings for the quarter dollar and pairings of cent and dime dies.

“It is now graded NGC Mint Error AU 58 with a notation of Discovery Coin to recognize its important place in numismatic history,” according to NGC.

The person who submitted this Sacagawea-Presidential dollar mule to NGC reported making the discovery in a mixed bag of dollar coins obtained from a bank in 2019. It was eventually submitted to NGC for certification.

The authentication and grading team at NGC includes David J. Camire, an authority on Mint errors who is the co-author of 100 Greatest US Error Coins. In addition to being an NGC grading finalizer, Camire serves as President of Numismatic Conservation Services, an affiliate of NGC.

“This is yet another great find by a collector and an important reminder for the coin collecting community that astonishing discoveries are still being made,” Camire said. “Today, the US Mint uses technology and procedures that make it highly unlikely for mint errors not only to be produced, but also to escape into circulation. When they do, they become highly collectible and the NGC grading team has the expertise and resources to authenticate rare mint errors like these. Now, the hunt is on to see whether additional specimens can be found. Happy hunting!”

Mules are coins struck from unintended pairings of dies, like the aforementioned Washington quarter dollar/Sacagawea dollar mule. Other U.S. mules include: a mule error struck with two Roosevelt dime reverse dies on a copper-nickel clad dime planchet; two examples of Washington quarter dollar mules from two reverse dies, presumably struck at the San Francisco Mint circa 1965 to 1966; a unique 1993-D piece struck on a cent planchet with a Lincoln cent obverse die and Roosevelt dime reverse die; and a 1995 piece struck on a dime planchet by a Lincoln cent obverse die and Roosevelt dime reverse die.

The Sacagawea dollar series began in 2000 and is named after the Native American woman who appears on its obverse. The Presidential dollar series began in 2007, using the same planchets as the Sacagawea dollars.

According to NGC, “The edge of this mule sheds some light on its history: It bears the year 2014 and the ‘D’ mintmark of Denver. That year, the Denver Mint struck 5.6 million Sacagawea Dollars and over 15 million Presidential Dollars, almost equally distributed between Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt.”

Any 2014 Sacagawea obverse should have been paired with that year’s Native Hospitality reverse, which depicts a pair of Native Americans offering food and a peace pipe. Instead, this mule features the Statue of Liberty reverse from the Presidential dollar series.

Examples of the 2000 Washington quarter dollar-Sacagawea dollar mule have realized more than $100,000. Slightly fewer than 20 examples of that coin are known.

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