It's intriguing for coin collectors to discover how error coins come to be. Government mints are pretty orderly operations, and have not just a number of anti-counterfeiting measures in place but also an array quality control features to keep such "defective" coins from making it out of the mint.
Another such error coin has apparently been produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, containing 1 kg of pure gold!
Back in the 19th century, many of today's most interesting error coins have made it to us because of enterprising (and, in some respects, unethical) men who worked at the mint. (At least, this is true in the U.S.) Influential collectors were sometimes able to bribe the Chief Coiner and perhaps the worker who operated the presses to strike a few unique error coins, such as a blank for a small gold gold quarter eagle ($2.50) coin struck using an Indian Head penny die.
Aside from such "purposeful errors," rare error coins do make their way past inspection every so often. One famous example was at the turn of the millennium, when both the new State Quarters program and Sacagawea $1 coin program were making their debt. The obverse of one of these 25¢ quarters, which were similar in size to the dollar coins, got mismatched with the reverse of a Sacagawea dollar. The resulting coin (of mismatched obverse-reverse dies) is known in the numismatic community as a mule. It was the first time an authentic example of such an error was seen the in the U.S. There are about 10 of these quarter-dollar mules from the year 2000, all purchased over time by one enterprising collector/dealer.
One of the RCM's recent releases is the Gold Timber Wolf coin, which bears a $2,500 face value and a staggering one kilogram of .9999 fine gold. A mere 10 of these coins were produced with a special proof finish, making them a great catch for any high-end collector of modern coins.
As reported by Coin World, the mint discovered this type of mule error, a pairing with an incorrect obverse for a $250 denomination, before distributing the 10th Gold Timber Wolf coin. It summarily struck a new—correctly paired—coin for the buyer. However, there is no indication that the RCM can be sure how many, if any, of the previous 9 coins also exhibit this rare pairing of the Timber Wolf reverse design with an incorrect obverse die. One of the mint's spokespersons has suggested that no more than four of the coins may be mules.
The same design is also being produced in a one-kilo silver version, with a maximum mintage of 400 coins. According to CoinWeek, NGC has certified the kilo gold mule error. The images shown (left and right) are of past Canadian gold and silver coin designs featuring wolves.
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