By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek.com ……
A newly discovered “mule” error on the Canadian 2017 In the Eyes of the Timber Wolf $2,500 1 kilo gold coin has become the latest star in the world of modern coins. The mint gaffe marries the obverse of the $250 Proof silver Timber Wolf kilo, graced by an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, with the reverse of the $2,500 gold kilo.
A mule, by definition, is an incorrect pairing of obverse and reverse dies, creating a dramatic, highly unusual type of error coin. Genuine mule coins from the modern era are exceptionally rare by every measure due to the usually impeccable precision of today’s minting techniques. This particular Canadian error is especially desirable due to the coin’s tremendous intrinsic value and the tiny mintages of both types involved with this mule.
The Proof gold kilo, containing 1,000 grams of 99.99% pure gold, has an intrinsic value of some $40,000 with current bullion values. The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) struck just 10 of the gold kilos, whereas the silver Proof kilo – the obverse of which the mule is paired – has a maximum mintage of only 400 pieces.
“Up to four mule coins may have been sold out of a mintage of 10,” reported RCM Senior Manager of Communications Alex Reeves, who confirmed the existence of the errors at the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) World’s Fair of Money convention in Denver, Colorado, on August 2.
“[However] we cannot make an absolute determination of this number, as we have not heard from all of the buyers,” he said, adding that the gold kilo was produced in three separate strikings. “A fifth error coin was struck but was found in our vault before it was shipped out to the final customer. It has since been replaced and the material from this fifth coin will be recycled.”
Dealer Fred Weinberg, an error coin specialist based in Encino, California, said the Canadian gold kilo mule could be one of the most significant, most valuable errors of all time.
“It’s certainly rarer than the 2000 Sacagawea/Washington quarter mule,” he remarked, referencing a spectacular error pairing the obverse of a 2000-P Washington quarter with the reverse of a Sacagawea dollar on a “golden” one-dollar planchet. Discovered in May 2000, it became the first genuine United States mule error ever known.
“There are far fewer gold kilo mules than 2000 Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter mules,” he noted, comparing the four known Canadian mules to the roster of 15-plus Sacagawea/Washington mules made from multiple die pairs.
Weinberg did not openly speculate on the possible market value of the 2017 Canadian mule. However, in hinting at its possible going price, he referenced the 2000 Sacagawea/Washington mule, an error that captured the imaginations of countless numismatists around the world, which once sold for “more than $100,000.” In fact, one buyer paid a record $158,625 for the coin during an August 2012 Stack’s Bowers sale. Other examples are reported to have traded hands in private sales for as much as $250,000 in 2007-08.
Whether or not the gold 2017 Canadian mule crosses into six-figure territory once it hits the secondary marketplace remains to be seen.
Yet Weinberg said the mule from the Great White North has many attractive factors for buyers who may wish to purchase this rare modern error coin.
“Its mintage of just 10 is certainly appealing for buyers,” he said. “Plus, there are only a few specimens of the mule error available,” Weinberg adds, suggesting that there can’t be many more than the possible four reported by the RCM.
“It’s [certified] Proof-70 Deep Cameo, so it’s also the best possible grade. It’s also the highest denomination mule I’m aware of.”
The mule is encapsulated in an NGC Oversize Holder, due to the proof gold kilo’s incredible diameter of 101.6 millimeters – more than four times as wide as a current United States quarter. It should also be noted that the silver kilo, whose obverse design is struck on the gold kilo planchet, measures a slightly larger 102.1 millimeters in diameter.
Aside from the differing bullion content, denominational differences, and minor diameter variations between the gold and silver timber wolf kilos, the two issues are virtually identical in terms of their overall design. The timber wolf kilos both share the same reverse motif, which features a full-face profile of the head of a timber wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis) gazing toward the viewer with vividly enamelled eyes. The stunning reverse design by renowned Canadian wildlife artist Pierre Leduc is coupled with a standard obverse portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt (View Designer’s Profile).
The $2,500 gold kilo, now reported on the RCM website as “Sold Out,” was issued for $69,000 CAD. Meanwhile, the silver timber wolf kilo is still available on the Canadian Mint’s website and is presently selling for $2,299.95 CAD.