Error Coins - Mules - Part 6


This article gives out information on types of error coins. As the number of error coins classification is quite large, the article is divided into 6 Parts.
Part 1: Design Errors
Part 2: Die Making Errors
Part 3: Planchet Errors
Part 4: Strike Errors
Part 5: strike Errors Continued
Part 6: Mules
Part 7: Mis-Sold Mules

Mules:


[For other popular Mules that are actually Die-Varieties, refer to the next post]

These are errors where one side of the Obverse of a coin is struck with a Reverse Die of another coin or Vice Versa. These types of errors are rare compared to other types errors.

For a coin to be struck, it requires a pair of dies. Obverse and Reverse. In case of definitive’s, the Reverse is more often carried over from previous designs. In case of Commemoratives, the Obverse is more often carried over various designs. The Mint Master for any given coin decides the correct pair of Obverse and Reverse die’s to be used. In a mule error, the operator makes an error at the time of loading the die into the press.
In a strict definition, for a Mule error, the error must happen by the press operator at the time of loading the die. In other words, the the Mint Master knowingly determines that 2 dies are same and uses them interchangeably, then it would constitute a variety rather than Mule.
As what happens inside the mints is never known and hence it makes it very difficult for one to determine whether a particular coin a Die Variety or Mule. Quite a few times is very simple, take for example the Rs 5 with the Reverse of Rs 1 die or the Rs 2 coin with Reverse of Rs 10. By no stretch of imagination one can say that Mint Master intended to use these as the size itself is different. On the other hand there are certain coins in the recent times where the mints have been interchangeably using 2 to 3 types of Obverse dies. It then becomes difficult to predict and often is a matter of intense debates.

During discussing the mules quite a few numismatists use incorrect terms, for example they would say that there is a Mahavir Obverse or an ICDS Obverse etc. One should avoid such terms, and use it only for clarity . For example there is nothing called a Mahavir Obverse, the Obverse use in the Mahavir coin has been used for quite a few other coins before as well.
Criteria for Determining Mules:
In absence of what actually happens inside the mint, the guidelines for determining the mules would be;

  1. Do the Obverse [or Reverse] belong to different denomination that have a distinct design. If so its no arguments and one can easily call these Mules. The best example of these in Indian Coinage would be the Rs 2 definitive with Obverse of Rs 10 Definitive or Rs 5 with Rs 1.
  2. Are there pairing of 2 Obverse [or Reverse] dies, then its no brainer. The best example of these are Rs 5 of XIX Common Wealth Games and Rabindranath Tagore.
  3. Is there is distinct design adopted for the coin [mostly applicable for Commemoratives]. If so then anything else would be Mule. The best example of these are the 50 Paise of Indira Gandhi and the Rs 1 of Ambedkar. The coins had distinctive Obverse with dots around the periphery.
  4. Are the Coin boundaries sharp. If the coin boundaries are sharp, one can argue that a new die was introduced and the old discontinued. Hence any coin with the discontinued die would be a mule. These then fall into a debatable category. In certain cases it can be easily established, in other a study of all the coins in the period is required before one can conclude if it’s a Mule or not.
  5. Quantity Argument. Although not 100% right and true at all times, but the logic is eventually the mint operator would recognize a Mule error Sooner and recall the batch. Hence it is expected that on an overall basis, the quantity of Mules would be less compared to regular ones. However if it’s a Die Variety, one would have almost equal number of either coins. This again at times becomes speculative as it’s possible to be a Die Variation but struck with only one die and hence less in quantity. This would again need study of other coins in the period before one can conclude if it’s a Mule.
Myths:

  1. I have seen quite a few times the arguments; where both the coins are being manufactured parallel [or in same year], the reasoning that for mix-up to happen both the coins need to be minted at the same time. Although it makes the minting easier for mix-up, its is by no means mandatory.
  2. Coin boundaries are always sharp. IE when a new Die is introduced, the old one gets immediately discontinued. This is not true and there are quite a few times when the mint has used 2 dies in parallel for quite sometime. In such case all these become Die Varieties and not Mules.


1979 – 10 Paise – International Year of the Child
From 1974 to 1978, there were 5 commemorative coin in 10 paise denomination. All these used the Obverse die as shown in picture [extreme Right]. In the year 1979 for the 10 Paise of Happy Child Nation’s Pride, a new Obverse die type was created. This was slightly different from the older die in terms of font, lettering. and Ashoka Emblem [See Image on left].
There are certain coins, were the Obverse of the old type was used with this coin and hence a Mule.

For more details on various Obverse design, read the post here.



1985 - 50 Paise - Indira Gandhi Mule
A New Obverse design was introduced in 1985 to include “Satya Mave Jayate” as part of the Emblem. The RBI & Fisheries coin were to use this new Obverse. The Indira Gandhi coin also released in the same period had a different Obverse with predominant dots around to periphery to match the Reverse design. For more details on the various Obverse Die’s read the article here.



1985 - 50 Paise - Fisheries Mule
A New Obverse design was introduced in 1985 to include “Satya Mave Jayate” as part of the Emblem. The RBI & Fisheries coin were to use this new Obverse. The Indira Gandhi coin also released in the same period had a different Obverse with predominant dots around to periphery to match the Reverse design. For more details on the various Obverse Die’s on 50 paise denomination read the article here.






1991 B. R. Ambedkar
The Ambedkar coin has a matching Obverse with dots on the periphery. The Mule coin has the other type of Obverse that was used with ICDS and other older coins.




2006 – Rs 5 Jagath Guru Shree Narayana Gurudev – Mumbai Mint

The Narayana Gurudev had a distinct Obverse designed that had dots around the periphery. There are coins where the Obverse has a plain design. It can be argued that the dots design was only used on Gurudev coins and hence use of any other Obverse would be Mule. 


2008 Rs 2 Definitive with Reverse of Rs 10
The Bi-Metallic Rs 10 coins were minted from 2005, but introduced in circulation in 2008. The size of the Rs 10 coin is same as the Rs 2 coin, i.e. 27 mm. The Rs 2 Nritya Mudra coin had the Reverse as divided into 3 potions with India / Bharat at top in straight line. The Rs 10 coin had an Reverse design divided into 3 portions, however the date at bottom and Bharat / India at top where angular.


2008 Rs 5 Definitive with Reverse of 50 Paise
The Stainless Steel Definitive was minted in 2007 and 2008. A new Obverse was designed. The 50 paise coins were using the Nritya Mudra design. As the size of 50 Paise and Rs 5 coins are more or less same, i.e. 23 mm for Rs 5 coin and 22 mm for 50 paise coin. Notice the additional ring on the Mule coin due to the difference in the diameter.



2009 Rs 10 Definitive with Reverse of Rs 2
The Bi-Metallic Rs 10 coins were minted from 2005, but introduced in circulation in 2008. The size of the Rs 10 coin is same as the Rs 2 coin, i.e. 27 mm. The Rs 10 – 15 Rays [IT and Information Technology Design] coins were struck at the same time as Rs 2 definitive Nritya Mudra coin. The Rs 2 Reverse as divided into 3 potions with India / Bharat at top in straight line. The Rs 10 coin had an Reverse design divided into 3 portions, however the date at bottom and Bharat / India at top and bottom where angular.


Image and fine Credits: Abdulraziq Vhora


2010 – 5 Rupees – C Subramaniam – Mumbai Mint UNC Set
The strange story of this mule. The Obverse used here was the one from Rs 5 RBI coin. Amongst the coins in 2009 and 2010, only the RBI coin had a distinctive different design that was not used with any other commemoratives issued. Hence it is surprising to see the Obverse of Rs 5 that was used on the RBI. Further this is only in the UNC Set.
The UNC Sets were manufactured in 2 lots. Initially these were available from the Mint counter from January 2012 to April 2012. These coins had regular Obverse. The booking were invited in January 2012. Somewhere in May 2012 to July 2012, the UNC sets that were booked were being delivered, amongst them the first lot of deliveries had the coin with Obverse used for the RBI coin. Subsequent dispatches had the regular Obverse.
It is also difficult to treat this as Mule as it's in UNC Set. The UNC sets are supposed to be hand struck and each coin inspected [unlike mass produced coins for circulation]. Hence it can be argued that this was on purpose and hence can be treated as a Die Variety rather than a mule.


2010 Commonwealth Games from Kolkata mint
A Strange story of the Commonwealth games Mule. This would be the first coin without any denomination. This is because 2 Reverse were used. Instead of using an Obverse, a Reverse of Definitive was used.



2010 5 Rupees Rabindranath Tagore Kolkata mint
The Strange story continues with coins of Rabindranath Tagore from Kolkata Mint also not having any denominations. This is because 2 Reverse were used. Instead of using a Obverse, the Mint used a Reverse of definitive.

2011 – 5 Rupee – Definitive – Mumbai Mint
The Mumbai Mint has another interesting Mules after quite sometime. This time on the definitive of Rs 5 the Reverse of Rs 1 coin was used. Kolkata mint has outdone Mumbai Mint here by doing this for 3 consecutive years.


2011 – 5 Rupee – Definitive – Kolkata Mint
The Kolkata Mint continues with the trend of Mules, this time on the definitive of Rs 5 the Reverse of Rs 1 coin was used. Although quite a few Numismatist classify this as Mule, in true sense this is not a Mule but an error introduced at the time of creating working dies. Notice that the die size is 23 mm compared to the 22 mm of the Rs 1 coin. The 2012 coin is a mule in true sense, see the next picture.
The size of 23 mm means that at the time of making working dies, a 23 mm, Rs 5 die was hubbed with a Rs 1 [22 mm]. This is the most unique error in Indian Coinage, where the working die was wrongly created. This die was then used to strike Rs 5 coins.
Hence this would be classified as Die error rather then mule as the error was introduced more upstream and not by the operator at the time of loading the dies.





2012 – 2 Rupee – Definitive – Kolkata Mint
A very scarce Mule the Kolkata mint came up with in 2012. The Reverse was the Rs 5, a smaller die to strike the Rs 2 Coin.



Image Credits: Tanwer Alam


2012 – 5 Rupee – Definitive – Kolkata Mint
The Kolkata mint came up with a Mule in 2012, where they used the Reverse die of Rs 1 coin. As the size of Rs 1  die is 22 mm compared to 23 mm of Rs 5, notice the double ring formed. This coin can be called a mule than the earlier as the error here was on the part of the operator while loading the die.



2013 – 5 Rupee – Definitive – Kolkata Mint
The Kolkata mint repeated the 2012 with a similar Mule in 2013. Again they used the Reverse die of Rs 1 coin. As the size of Rs 1 die is 22 mm compared to 23 mm of Rs 5, notice the double ring formed.



2014 – 5 Rupee – Definitive – Mumbai Mint
The Mumbai Mint for the 2014, used the Rs 1 Reverse on the Rs 5 Coin. This is amongst the few errors done by the Mumbai Mint of definitive coinage.









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