US Coins

Third known two-tailed quarter makes appearance

What is now determined to be the third known example of a copper-nickel clad quarter dollar struck with two reverse dies for Washington quarter dollars has surfaced.

Error coin dealer Fred Weinberg, owner of Fred Weinberg & Associates in Encino, California, purchased the coin for an undisclosed sum in an assortment that included other error coins. Weinberg made the purchase during the Sept. 7 to 9 Long Beach Expo in Long Beach, California.

Weinberg said Sept. 13 the mule error coin was to be submitted to Professional Coin Grading Service for grading and encapsulation.

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A mule error is a coin, token or medal struck with dies not intended to be paired together.

The two other known “two-tailed” quarter dollars — both reported in 2001 as having come from unclaimed property sales by the state of California — were previously graded Mint State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

A single example known of a Roosevelt dime struck from two reverse dies, known since the early 1970s, was certified nearly three decades later by PCGS as MS-64.

All four two-tailed mule errors are believed to have been struck between 1965 and 1967 when coin output was executed at all three Mint production facilities with no Mint marks. All four examples are believed to be San Francisco Mint strikes.

Weinberg said the new discovery weighs 5.6 grams, well within tolerance of the official 5.67-gram standard for the 24.3-millimeter quarter dollar.

The eagle reverse that appears on the two-tailed quarter dollars bear the same design by sculptor John Flanagan that was introduced on the denomination in 1932 and discontinued with the introduction of the State quarter dollars in 1999.

One of the Washington quarter dollar reverses on the newly reported mule was struck with a previously used die. This side exhibits several carbon spots.

The die that struck the other reverse side, according to Weinberg, was also a used die, but less used before striking the mule than the other die was. This side also exhibits some very fine die polish lines, according to Weinberg.

The strike is in perfect coin turn alignment — if flipped over from top to bottom, either side flips over to a perfectly normal reverse alignment, Weinberg said.

Most experts believe that the mules were clandestinely made inside the Mint. 

First reports

Discovery of the first two-tailed quarter dollar was reported by Coin World on the cover of the July 3, 2001, issue.

Bob Wiborg from Gold’n Coins Jewelry in La Habra, California, purchased the mule along with several hundred other error coins in a May 2001 sale by the California State controller’s office featuring unclaimed property from bank safe-deposit boxes.

The error coins Wiborg purchased had been seized by the Secret Service, then returned to the state of California to be sold as unclaimed property.

Weinberg, on Wiborg’s behalf, brokered the two-tailed $80,000 sale to New Mexico collector Tommy Bolack, who owns 12 of the 16 publicly known Washington quarter dollar/Sacagawea dollar double-denomination mules.

Bolack’s two-tailed quarter dollar exhibits perfect coin alignment.

The second two-tailed quarter dollar, also pedigreed to the California unclaimed property sale, was submitted to NGC late in 2001 by Abbot’s Coinex Corp. of Birmingham, Michigan, on behalf of an unnamed client. The coin is reported to have come from another safe-deposit box whose contents were unclaimed by the same individual whose safe-deposit box yielded the first two-tailed quarter dollar.

The second two-tailed quarter dollar exhibits medal turn die alignment, meaning the tops of both sides back each other, which is 180 degrees out of rotation from normal coin die alignment.

Weinberg said he bought the two-tailed Roosevelt dime from error specialist “Lonesome” John Devine on Nov. 1, 2001. Devine had owned the coin since 1973 after purchasing it from a collector along with other major San Francisco Mint errors.

Weinberg submitted the dime to PCGS, which graded the coin MS-64. Weinberg said he sold the coin in 2002, bought it back from the same party six months ago, and sold it to another party who placed the unique piece with a serious collector of error coins. 

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