Medal Mule Soars Toward $1,000
By Ken Potter
I reported an
Abigail Adams medal with a reverse from the
Louisa Adams medal in the March 3 issue of
Numismatic News noting that Michael Descamps,
found one in a 2007 First Spouse set of bronze
medals that he purchased from eBay.
It is an error that is referred to by collectors
as a "mule." A mule is a coin, medal or token
that has been struck with dies not intended to
be paired together.
At the time of my report there were no mintage
estimates from the U.S. Mint (which continues to
be the case) and I stated that the ultimate
value of the medal would depend on how many were
made and how strong the demand would be from
coin collectors who often ignore medal issues.
Interestingly, if the activity on eBay is any
indication of mintage, it appears that the
errors may have been produced in very small
numbers. The small number of sets offered on
eBay thus far seems to be outstripped by demand
from collectors who have pushed the price of the
medal up to highs over the $900 mark. All sold
so far (identified as the error) have been
contained in the original Mint packaging.
As of March 30, I was only able to find a total
of seven completed auctions for the set.
The first to sell went for $719.99 on Feb. 17
with 20 bids made by 10 unique bidders. A second
set sold for $686.99 on Feb. 25 with eight bids
from two unique bidders. A third set had a
starting bid of $950 and closed with no bidders
on March 2.
A fourth with 18 bids from nine bidders sold on
March 15 for $670, a fifth set ended with 15
bids from five bidders sold on March 16 for
$860, while a sixth set with 18 bids from five
bidders sold on March 22 for $925.99.
Bidding for a seventh set scheduled to end March
30 went for $910. There were 15 bids from seven
Beginning in 2007, the U.S. Mint began honoring
our nation's First Spouses by issuing
one-half-ounce $10 gold coins and 1-5/16 inch
bronze medals featuring their images in the
order that they served as First Spouse. The
medals bear the likeness of the gold coins
except they do not contain a denomination and
mottoes required by law to be a coin.
The obverse of the Abigail Adams medal was
designed and sculpted by Joseph Menna, U.S. Mint
sculptor-engraver and was inspired by Gilbert
Stuart's portrait of Abigail Adams. The reverse,
was designed by Thomas Cleveland, Mint Artistic
Infusion Program master designer, and sculpted
by Phebe Hemphill, Mint sculptor-engraver. It
features Abigail Adams writing the famous words
"Remember the Ladies" to her husband when he was
in the Second Continental Congress drafting the
Declaration of Independence.
The obverse of the Louisa Adams medal was
designed by Artistic Infusion Program Master
Designer Susan Gamble, and sculpted by Hemphill.
A portrait of Louisa Adams circa 1816 inspired
it. The reverse was designed and sculpted by
Menna and depicts Louisa Adams with her young
son Charles on an arduous journey from Russia to
France to join her husband in Paris.
The mule error shows the Abigail obverse paired
with the reverse depicting Louisa with son
The 2007 "Four-Medal-Sets" are now listed on the
Mint's Web site as sold out.
This will be the second mule reported on an
official Mint medal in the past several years.
In 2006 a Rutherford B. Hayes medal bearing a
reverse die intended for the Ulysses S. Grant
Presidential medal was found. To date there are
the only two examples reported for the
Hayes/Grant mules that I'm aware of. Their value