Skip to main content

Spotlight on mule error at Stack's Bowers

A record price of $192,000 was achieved in March by an error coin with a Sacagawea dollar reverse paired with a Washingon quarter obverse struck on a golden dollar planchet.

This sort of error is called a mule, as the obverse and reverse dies are mismatched.

The coin was put on the block in Baltimore by Stack’s Bowers Galleries during the Whitman Expo.

It is the 17th known example of this error, which escaped the Philadelphia Mint in the year 2000.

It is graded MS-67 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

A previous example had been sold by the firm for $158,625 in August 2012 at the Philadelphia American Numismatic Association convention auction.

The firm noted that “competitive bidding witnessed in the auction room suggests increasing desire among collectors to own one of these elusive errors, as 12 of the 17 known examples reside in the collection of error enthusiast Tommy Bolack.”

The cataloger theorized that “these dramatic blunders are thought to result from confusion in the Die Room of the Philadelphia Mint in the spring of 2000.

“A coin press operator was mistakenly given an obverse die for a Washington quarter instead of the new Sacagawea dollar, and many thousands of these dramatic errors were struck before Mint employees noticed the mistake.

“Once discovered, employees culled out and destroyed all the muled coins they could, although several escaped into circulation.

“While there was some initial debate as to the authenticity and the legality of such an error, the Mint acknowledged the mulings as genuine on June 19, 2000, and they have traded freely among collectors ever since.”

Bowers and Merena sold the discovery piece at the August 2000 ANA Millennium Sale for $29,900.

Obviously, bidders seem confident in spending more and more money to buy them.

At the rate the price is increasing, in another 18 years it will exceed $1 million.

If this happens, it would be the fastest ascent of any American coin from time of issue to that lofty price level in history.

With just five available to other collectors at the moment, Stack’s Bowers is the go-to firm if you want one.

This error coin is the fourth offered by the auction firm since 2000.

Overall, Stack’s Bowers sold $24.6 million worth of material in a series of six sessions in Baltimore.

Of that amount, $14.2 million worth of U.S. coins were sold.

Visit for more information.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.