Sixty-one regular-issue Type 2 Reverse 1/4-ounce gold American Eagle bullion coins mistakenly struck with a West Point “W” mintmark obverse proof die have been discovered by Gerald Medel of Lakeside Coins in San Diego, Calif., and authenticated and certified by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).
The coins were submitted to PCGS on Medel's behalf by Ian Russell, president of GreatCollections Coin Auctions Irvine, Calif. PCGS has classified the coins as Unfinished Proofs, and some of the coins now are being offered at auction by GreatCollections.
"These discovery coins show how full of surprises our industry can be," said Stephanie Sabin, PCGS president. "While we eagerly await the details on how these coins came to be, the exciting discovery during a live Instagram auction highlights the adaptation of our hobby to social media and further underscores the rapid growth of the numismatic market over the past two years."
“This is an impressive discovery in a day and age when the United States Mint strives for perfection," said Russell. "Errors on gold coins are always rare and attract significant interest. We are thankful to Gerald for entrusting us with the first coins he discovered.
“It would appear that a 'W' mintmark proof die was used in making some of the non-proof bullion coins that are sold through the Mint’s Authorized Purchaser program,” he said. “Something similar happened in 1999, when $5 and $10 denomination American Eagle gold coins were also mistakenly struck with 'W' mintmarks. Those examples are highly sought after today.”
The first 2021-W 1/4-ounce American Eagle Unfinished Proof coin was discovered by Medel in late September when he was live on his Instagram account for Lakeside Coins while opening a roll of 2021 1/4-ounce American Eagles with the new reverse design. He remained silent when he saw the mintmark and put that coin aside.
“All 40 coins in the roll had the West Point mint mark! The next day I began researching and over next three and a half weeks I located an additional 21 coins for a total of 61 while searching through thousands of coins,” Medel recalled.
“I’ve known Ian since he launched GreatCollections in 2011, and I contacted him about submitting the coins to PCGS. I was so excited about the discovery, my wife and our three children accompanied me from San Diego to Irvine when I delivered the coins to Ian,” Medel said.
The first 40 'W' mintmark coins, found together in one roll, are being labeled by PCGS as pedigreed to the “Discovery Roll.”
Steve Feltner, PCGS director of numismatic education and grading team leader, recalled the surprise he felt when he saw the coins for the first time.
“When Ian Russell and PCGS President Stephanie Sabin showed me a few groups of raw gold coins, Ian first handed me a standard business strike 2021 Type 2 1/4-ounce American gold Eagle and then one in proof," said Feltner. "I was wondering where this was going since these two coins are extremely common. I immediately started thinking that the reason for the visit could be a cool repeating ‘struck through’ error or even a newly discovered ‘mule.’ My mind was racing.
“Then Ian handed me another business strike and gave a knowing smile. My eyes automatically caught the 'W' mintmark and knew he was onto something. After a few seconds of processing, we began to discuss the discovery: a group of American gold Eagles struck using unfinished proof dies!”
GreatCollections will offer the first 10 error coins in auction without reserve. Bidding ends for five of the coins on Oct. 31, with bidding ending for the other five a week later on Nov. 7. For more information, call (949) 679-4180 or visit www.GreatCollections.com.