100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins Series: 2000 Sacagawea Dollar/Washington Quarter Mule

Error coins are rare in the numismatic business in the sense that when they are made, whether, by a natural occurrence or a creation of sorts, they become valuable. Rarities are created by either a specific single event or a series of events. The importance of the rarity and where it stacks up among all the coin strikes out there is most generally determined by the story behind it.

In our journey exploring the 100 Greatest United States Modern Coins as published by Whitman Publishing, this next coin, as described by authors Scott Schechter and Jeff Garrett, is among the most important. Along with other influential coin dealers across the country, we will examine this top-five choice in the series’ fourth edition.

#5 - 2000 Sacagawea Dollar/Washington Quarter Mule

A number of error coins out there are classified as mules. Mules are usually a combination of different parts of coins. While they are rare, there is a different kind of mule that is even rarer: one with two different denominations. Unless you are well-versed in the historical and daily occurrences of the business, most do not know of one to exist. Here is the part where “funny story” enters the conversation.

While the year 2000 introduced the first Sacagawea $1 Coin and was officially the second year of the brand new Statehood Quarter program unveiled in 1999, it also saw the rare mule that featured aspects of both. In May of 2000, a collector from Arkansas was combing through his new roll of Sacagawea dollar coins when he noticed something odd. Among the roll was a single coin that featured the reverse design of the Sacagawea dollar and the obverse of the statehood Washington quarter. At the time of the discovery, it was the only known mule of a United States circulation coin. To drive this point home even more: it was the first, at the time, in the 208 years that United States coinage production began.

As the finding of the first coin was major, it did not take long for the second one to be found in a post office vending machine in Philadelphia in June of 2000. Another one was found in Philadelphia soon after that. The discoveries were featured in the media and the United States Mint would eventually recognize the error. However, it was unknown, although small, how many were actually released.

While media attention had already been gathered, it was intensified when the second of the discoveries of the Sacagawea Dollar/Washington Quarter Mule was sold on eBay in an auction in July of 2000 for $41,395.00. The happenings of the auction quickly made the rounds and the transaction undoubtedly helped legitimize the entity that is eBay coin sales today. Many were hesitant to remain excited as the auction price would seem to stagger and concerns of more popping up would dampen the value of the coin. This concern though eventually turned insignificant as only 10 examples have been found since August of 2001. Therefore, their value has increased over time. A high-grade example was sold in August of 2012 for over $150,000.

This coin has dropped three spots since its ranking in the first edition (#2).

**As of September 2019, 19 total coins have now been found.** - Source: Coin World