By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek……….
The Royal Mint in Wales has confirmed the existence of a pair of £2, .999 fine silver mules, which the Mint says were mistakenly produced and sold in December 2013.
In Numismatics, the term “mule” describes a coin that’s struck using two dies not designed to be paired together.
In this instance, the confirmed mules were produced by accidentally combining the following dies:
The obverse of both coins features the same likeness of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The origin of the issue is uncertain, with two versions of events coming to light in recent days.
The first version was published in Coin World on March 3 and written by Senior Staff Writer Jeff Starck. In the article, Stark attributed discovery of the pieces to Chuck Daughtry and the staff at Sarasota, Florida-based Modern Coin Mart. Daughtry told CoinWeek that after his firm discovered the mule, they spoke with representatives of the Royal Mint.
According to Daughtry, the Royal Mint was unaware of any mules of the Britannia but already knew of the existence of mules involving the 2014 Lunar Horse £2 Silver 1 oz coins.
Modern Coin Mart sold their entire holding of the Britannia mule to an unnamed collector. They had no examples of the Lunar Horse.
The second version of the discovery comes from London-based dealers the London Coin Company. They say that the mule first came to light late last year or early this year when a customer called to complain about a 2014 Britannia £2 Silver 1 oz coin they’d bought and believed to be counterfeit.
The customer described the coin as having no dentils around the border on the reverse, which is unusual for the issue.
The company, which purchases bullion coins from the Royal Mint and says it specializes in the series, was, up to that point, unaware of any quirks, but acknowledged that the existence of the mules might have escaped notice if that customer had never called to complain. After checking stock, the London Coin Company was able locate additional examples in their inventory.
Company representatives tell us that 450 Britannia mules and 21 or 22 Lunar Horse mules are now at Professional Coin Grading Service’s Paris branch for authentication and grading.
The firm is pre-selling these coins on eBay for prices starting at $600 and going up to $2,000. Ingram Liberman, London Coin Company owner, said via email that they’ve already sold a number of pieces at these price points.
However, those curious about the newly announced varieties might want to take note of the following...... According to Mint Spokesperson Victoria Newman, “The mismatched dies were used on approximately 17,000 Britannia and 38,000 Lunar coins.”
If correct, and at this time there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the statement, this represents 12.6% of the total mintage of Year of the Horse coins. The Britannia, on the other hand, has an unlimited mintage and will be struck with the correct die pairing through the end of the year.
And while it’s the opinion of the Royal Mint that, “The quality and value of the [muled] coins remains the same”, on the secondary market, the value of numismatic material is driven by supply and demand.
Do you have a Britannia or Lunar Horse mule? Do you think there’ll be much demand for the Royal Mint Mules? Share your thoughts below.