This March gear up for the Official Auction of the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, where Stack’s Bowers Galleries is offering the 17th known example of the famous (2000)-P Sacagawea dollar / Washington quarter mule. This blunder is among the greatest Mint errors of modern numismatics and has captured the imagination of collectors and roll hunters.
The newly offered example is amazing and exhibits golden tan surfaces with areas of richer honey colour. The pristine surfaces are coupled by satiny cartwheel luster and bold definition to the design elements. Die striations at the border are seen on all known examples, creating a spectacular sunburst effect that is most dramatic on the obverse.
The creation of such a coin would seem impossible considering the rigorous standards of the modern U.S. Mint.
However, this incredible issue saw the light of the day. According to leading error coin expert Fred Weinberg, around 1998 or 1999, the Mint instituted an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 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. In spring 2000, a coin press operator asked for an obverse die for the new Sacagawea dollar from the Die Room but instead was given an obverse die for a quarter.
Many thousands of these dramatic errors were struck before Mint employees noticed the mistake, but once discovered, employees culled out and destroyed all the muled coins they could. 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.
Although at first there were mixed views on the authenticity of the error, on 19th June, the Mint realized that the error was a genuine one. 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 current 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 magnificent 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.