I reported an Abigail Adams medal with a reverse from the Louisa Adams medal in the March 3 issue of Numismatic News noting that Michael Descamps, found one in a 2007 First Spouse set of bronze medals that he purchased from eBay.
It is an error that is referred to by collectors as a “mule.” A mule is a coin, medal or token that has been struck with dies not intended to be paired together.
At the time of my report there were no mintage estimates from the U.S. Mint (which continues to be the case) and I stated that the ultimate value of the medal would depend on how many were made and how strong the demand would be from coin collectors who often ignore medal issues.
Interestingly, if the activity on eBay is any indication of mintage, it appears that the errors may have been produced in very small numbers. The small number of sets offered on eBay thus far seems to be outstripped by demand from collectors who have pushed the price of the medal up to highs over the $900 mark. All sold so far (identified as the error) have been contained in the original Mint packaging.
As of March 30, I was only able to find a total of seven completed auctions for the set.
The first to sell went for $719.99 on Feb. 17 with 20 bids made by 10 unique bidders. A second set sold for $686.99 on Feb. 25 with eight bids from two unique bidders. A third set had a starting bid of $950 and closed with no bidders on March 2.
A fourth with 18 bids from nine bidders sold on March 15 for $670, a fifth set ended with 15 bids from five bidders sold on March 16 for $860, while a sixth set with 18 bids from five bidders sold on March 22 for $925.99.
Bidding for a seventh set scheduled to end March 30 went for $910. There were 15 bids from seven bidders.
Beginning in 2007, the U.S. Mint began honoring our nation’s First Spouses by issuing one-half-ounce $10 gold coins and 1-5/16 inch bronze medals featuring their images in the order that they served as First Spouse. The medals bear the likeness of the gold coins except they do not contain a denomination and mottoes required by law to be a coin.
The obverse of the Abigail Adams medal was designed and sculpted by Joseph Menna, U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver and was inspired by Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Abigail Adams. The reverse, was designed by
Thomas Cleveland, Mint Artistic Infusion Program master designer, and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, Mint sculptor-engraver. It features Abigail Adams writing the famous words “Remember the Ladies” to her husband when he was in the Second Continental Congress drafting the Declaration of Independence.
The obverse of the Louisa Adams medal was designed by Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Susan Gamble, and sculpted by Hemphill. A portrait of Louisa Adams circa 1816 inspired it. The reverse was designed and sculpted by Menna and depicts Louisa Adams with her young son Charles on an arduous journey from Russia to France to join her husband in Paris.
The mule error shows the Abigail obverse paired with the reverse depicting Louisa with son Charles.
The 2007 “Four-Medal-Sets” are now listed on the Mint’s Web site as sold out.
This will be the second mule reported on an official Mint medal in the past several years. In 2006 a Rutherford B. Hayes medal bearing a reverse die intended for the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential medal was found. To date there are the only two examples reported for the Hayes/Grant mules that I’m aware of. Their value remains undetermined.
A PDF version of that story can be seen online here: http://hermes.csd.net/~coneca/content/HayesGrantmule.pdf.
Readers who might have found examples of these mules are encouraged to report their finds to Numismatic News or me.
Ken Potter is the official attributer of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and for the National Collectors Association of Die Doubling. He also privately lists other collectible variety types on both U.S. and world coins in the Variety Coin Register. He is a regular columnist in Numismatic News’ sister publication, World Coin News, were he pens the Visiting Varieties column. More information on either of the clubs or how to get a coin listed in the Variety Coin Register may be obtained by sending a long. self-addressed envelope with 59 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076, or by contacting him via e-mail at KPotter256@aol.com. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his Web site at www.koinpro.com.