Stack’s Bowers Galleries (StacksBowers.com) will auction a 2000-P Sacagawea dollar / Washington quarter mule error during the upcoming Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo in Baltimore. The rarity is just one of the seventeen known to exist.
The error coin exhibits golden tan surfaces with areas of richer honey color. The pristine surfaces are complemented by satiny, cartwheel luster and bold definition to the design elements. Die striations at the border are as seen on all known examples, creating a spectacular sunburst effect that is most dramatic on the obverse.
“This blunder is among the greatest Mint errors of modern numismatics and has captured the imagination of collectors and roll hunters for two decades,” the company said.
The creation of such a coin would seem impossible considering the rigorous standards of the modern U.S. Mint. However, a “perfect storm” of circumstances allowed for this incredible issue to emerge. According to leading error coin expert Fred Weinberg, around 1998 or 1999, the Mint instituted an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule requiring employees in specific roles be rotated into other positions on a periodic basis, adding to the potential for confusion in the Die Room. Sometime in spring 2000, a coin press operator requested an obverse die for the new Sacagawea dollar from the Die Room and was given instead an obverse die for a quarter.
Many thousands of these errors were struck before Mint employees noticed the mistake, but once discovered, employees culled out and destroyed all the muled coins they could. Or so they thought. A few examples escaped and in late May 2000 the first was found in a roll of new Sacagawea dollars by Frank Wallis in Arkansas.
While initially there was some debate as to the authenticity of the error, as well as the legality of owning the coins, the Mint acknowledged the error as genuine on June 19. Bowers and Merena sold that rare discovery piece at the August 2000 American Numismatic Association Millennium Sale for $29,900, a shocking price, as this mule was virtually unknown at the time.
It has been reported that examples were sold privately in the neighborhood of $250,000 in 2007/2008, and one piece sold for 158,625 in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2012 Philadelphia ANA sale.
Today, these 2000-P Sacagawea dollar / Washington quarter mules are highly prized by collectors for their dramatic appearance and rarity. Error enthusiast Tommy Bollock owns 12 of the 16 previously known specimens.
The present offering in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Official Auction of the Whitman Coins & Collectibles March 2018 Expo represents a new discovery and a new opportunity for collectors to acquire this trophy. This error will be sold alongside such spectacular highlights as a Specimen-66 (NGC) 1860-O Liberty Seated half dollar and the magnificent Proof-63 Cameo (PCGS) 1879 Quintuple Stella from the Garrett Collection.