Famous (2000)-P Mule Error, State Quarter Obverse, Sacagawea Reverse to be sold by Heritage
This “mule” error, which combines a Sacagawea dollar’s planchet and eagle “tails” design with a “heads” side that shows George Washington and the legends from the Statehood quarter design from 1999 on. A “P” mintmark represents Philadelphia. Graded MS66 PCGS. Die Pair 1 (of 3), cracked through the F in OF on the reverse.
While the coin itself is dateless — in 2000, Washington quarters were dated on the reverse and Sacagawea dollars the obverse — the coins were identified and documented in 2000, the first year of Sacagawea dollar production, hence the date attribution.
It is worth noting that in theory, similar errors could have been created from 2001 to 2008 while the Sacagawea dollar had an eagle on the reverse, but after the considerable public embarrassment these “mules” caused the U.S. Mint — the Office of Public Affairs released a statement on August 4, 2000, confirming the genuineness of at least four “mules” and citing rumors of further discoveries — one would expect the U.S. Mint to have been “on alert” during that time.
The market for these “mules,” ranked #1 in 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins, has been unusual, to say the least. Early auction appearances were in the five-figure range, but the vast majority of the known coins were snapped up, at least in the early going, by a single collector, Tommy Bolack (as detailed in Appendix B of 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins). After almost a decade of exclusively private transactions for these coins, the auction route is making a comeback. It is clear the winning bidder will have to rise above the scrum to win this prize.
In the print edition of the auction catalog, we noted the following:
“For now there are 11 confirmed distinct examples of these ‘mules,’ though others may well exist. (The 11th piece did not come to light until 2011, after the publication of the reference.) Identifying this coin within that roster is tricky, as there are several MS66 PCGS examples from Die Pair #1 and the market for these coins was almost exclusively private from 2001 to 2011. This coin does not appear to be a match for the ‘Discovery’ coin as pictured in the Bowers and Merena Sale of the Millennium from August 2000, but the ‘Fred Weinberg’ and ‘Tommy Bolack 1′ specimens remain possibilities.”
More recent information has come to light through Coin World, which considers this specimen to be a new addition to the census of known survivors. The December 31, 2012 edition includes a front-page article about this specimen that rules out the two pedigree possibilities Heritage mentioned. The article quotes as saying the coin is not his, but that he hopes to add it to his collection. Coin World does not believe this piece is the ‘Fred Weinberg’ specimen, either.
In addition to the 11 specimens that were confirmed as of July 2011, Coin World reports that there were three other certification events for Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter mules in 2005, two at NGC in March and one at PCGS (the present specimen) in an unknown month; the PCGS submission, as described by Ron Guth, was a new submission and not an NGC crossover. The “certified in 2005″ mules have begun to emerge in the marketplace via auction; one of the NGC-graded pieces from 2005 appeared in a Stack’s Bowers auction in August 2012, while the other’s whereabouts were not traced by Coin World. Assuming no duplications, crackouts, or other complications in the existing census, this is the 14th known specimen of the “mule.”
This example is yellow at the base with a few grayish areas on the obverse and broad lavender-to-violet overtones on the reverse. The most notable shallow planchet voids, which may aid in future identification, are at the top of Washington’s temple and a pair in the field to the left of his nose.