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Famous Sacagawea Dollar / Statehood Quarter Mule Helps Propel ANA Rarities Night to Success

Stacks Bowers Galleries is pleased to announce that our 2012 Philadelphia ANA Rarities Night Sale was a resounding success, with many highlights that generated tremendous bidding activity during the course of the evening. Among the significant prices realized during this historic numismatic event is the $155,250 that the winning bidder paid for lot 11642, a Sacagawea dollar / Washington Statehood quarter Mule certified MS-67 by NGC. The realized price of $155,250 set a record price at auction for this rare and famous error.

The numismatic definition of a Mule is the pairing of two dies not intended to be used together. For this reason, Mules are extremely rare and highly sought after. This coin combines the obverse design of a Washington Statehood quarter and the reverse of a Sacagawea dollar, and it is an example of Die Pair 1 for the error: die crack from rim through F in OF on the Sacagawea dollar side. A fully brilliant and highly lustrous Superb Gem, the error is an undated marriage from the year 2000, the year in which the first of these rare Mules was discovered, as well as the first date in the Sacagawea dollar series.

The rare Muling of the Sacagawea dollar and Washington Statehood quarter was first brought to the attention of collectors in May 2000, when Frank Wallis of Mountain Home, Arkansas reported finding an example; we (Bowers and Merena) sold that rare discovery piece at the August 2000 American Numismatic Association Millennium Sale for $29,900. This shocked everyone as this Mule was virtually unknown at the time. It has been reported that examples sold privately in the neighborhood of $250,000 in 2007/2008.

The Sacagawea dollar / Washington quarter Mule was the first such error to receive national publicity, including in the local and national press as well as on television newscasts. The search was on, and by the autumn of 2000 a few examples had come to light, by which time a total of three different die pairs were recognized and described by David J. Camire, author and first authenticator of the variety. In August 2000, the U.S. Mint issued a letter regarding the existence of the pieces stating: "In its 208-year history, coin errors are a rare occurrence, but occasionally, misstrikes happen."

The numismatic 2010 reference 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins by Nicholas P. Brown, David J. Camire and Fred Weinberg lists a roster of 10 different specimens, several of which are owned by collector Tommy Bolack, including the discovery piece; as of the time of publication of the referenced book, Bolack owned eight examples, four from Die Pair 1, three from Die Pair 2, and one from Die Pair 3! The other two listed specimens were in private collections at the time of publication.

The rare, highly publicized, and extremely popular Sacagawea dollar / Washington Statehood quarter Mule is listed and ranked as coin #1 by the panel in the aforementioned reference 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins (Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2010.)

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