Sacagawea dollar nine year legacy
By Paul Gilkes
$1 series ends with
If you've been collecting every possible version
of the Sacagawea manganese-brass clad dollar
since its January 2000 introduction, you've
likely already shelled out a few thousand
The 5,000 2000-P Sacagawea dollars compensating
sculptor Glenna Goodacre for her obverse design
were specially burnished and treated with an
antioxidant at the Philadelphia Mint, creating
an instant rarity for collectors to pursue.
Images courtesy of HeritageAuctions.com. The
so-called Cheerios 2000-P Sacagawea dollars,
randomly placed inside boxes of the breakfast
cereal as part of an advertising campaign, were
struck from a reverse die made from a hub
different from that used for the remainder of
the program. The coins bear a design slightly
different from the one on regular issue strikes.
Should you plan to start to assemble a complete
set of each issue by date, Mint mark and finish
excluding errors in this, the program's
final year, you would likely end up spending
thousands more. Such an assemblage of dollar
coins would contain 47 coins.
The coin bears sculptor Glenna Goodacre's
portrait of Sacagawea with son, Jean-Baptiste,
on the obverse and U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver
Thomas D. Rogers Sr.'s Soaring Eagle reverse.
Goodacre's obverse will be retained for dollar
coins issued under the Native American $1 Coin
Act of 2007, beginning in 2009.
The 47-coin set contains the following:
circulation-quality strikes from the Denver and
Philadelphia Mints for each of the nine years
the coins have been struck, from 2000 to 2008;
Uncirculated Mint set strikes of the dollars
from the Denver and Philadelphia Mints for those
same years, including the Satin Finish coins
issued in the sets since 2005; Proof Sacagawea
dollars struck for nine years at the San
Francisco Mint; a Goodacre Presentation 2000-P
dollar; and a "Cheerios" 2000-P dollar.
What the "complete set" will not include is one
of the dozen Proof 2000-W Sacagawea half-ounce
.9167 fine gold pieces struck at the West Point
Mint in 1999 without congressional approval and
placed aboard a space shuttle flight. The gold
pieces, which according to the Mint technically
are not coins since they were never officially
monetized, are secured at the Fort Knox Bullion
Depository in Kentucky.
2000-P and 2000-D Sacagawea dollars were struck
to the tune of some 1.3 billion coins combined
for circulation. In 2001, the combined
circulation number struck plummeted to 10
percent of the 2000 total.
Coins struck from the first two years of the
program could be pulled from circulation at face
value if one actually encountered any of the
coins in use. Because of the low demand for the
coins in daily commerce, beginning in 2002
circulation-quality Sacagawea dollars were
struck only for collectors, not for circulation
release. Annual combined production from 2002
through 2008 averaged between 5 million and 7
million, divided between the Denver and
Since the 2002 to 2008 coins were not released
into circulation, collectors have had to go
directly to the U.S. Mint to acquire the coins
in 25-coin rolls from each Mint at a premium
above the $25 face value of each roll.
Uncirculated Mint sets, Proofs
To obtain the Uncirculated Mint set and Proof
versions of Sacagawea dollars from 2000 to 2008
the least expensive way, collectors would have
purchased the multicoin Uncirculated Mint sets
and Proof sets for those years directly from the
U.S. Mint. The Proof Sacagawea dollar is also
available in the pricier Silver Proof set from
those years, though the Sacagawea dollar was
never struck in a silver composition.
Alternatively, collectors may acquire single
Uncirculated Mint set coins one specially
struck Denver Mint dollar and one specially
struck Philadelphia Mint coin and single Proof
coins struck at the San Francisco Mint from
dealers who offer individual coins from sets
that have been broken apart.
The Uncirculated Mint set coins are struck on
coin presses with dies oriented vertically and
operating at a much slower speed and higher
tonnage than the coin presses striking
The dies on the coin presses for
circulation-quality coins are oriented
horizontally. The circulation-quality coins are
struck at high speed, up to 750 coins per
minute, and are produced on blanks that receive
no special treatment before striking, with dies
that receive no special treatment.
From 2000 to 2004, the Sacagawea dollars and
remaining coins in the Uncirculated Mint sets
from those years are of a slightly better
quality than circulation strikes. The U.S. Mint
introduced a Satin Finish on Uncirculated Mint
set coins in 2005. The blanks for the Satin
Finish coins are burnished with steel pellets
Goodacre, Cheerios and space
Two of the coins necessary for a complete set
are much more expensive than typical examples of
the other coins. Each has an interesting
In 2000, sculptor Goodacre requested that the
U.S. Mint pay her the $5,000 compensation she
was to receive for the Sacagawea obverse design
with 5,000 Sacagawea dollars.
U.S. Mint officials complied with the request,
but went one step further, creating an instant
and highly sought after rarity.
All of the 5,000 coins she received were
specially burnished and treated with an
antioxidant by the U.S. Mint. The coins were
eventually all certified, graded and identified
on the enclosed grading insert as "Goodacre
Presentation" pieces by Independent Coin Grading
Goodacre retained an undisclosed number of the
encapsulated coins for herself and her family.
The remainder were sold into the marketplace,
the initial offering of pieces being peddled for
$200 each at the American Numismatic Association
World's Fair of Money in Philadelphia in 2000.
The special pieces continue to bring higher
prices than typical examples of the "regular"
coins in the set. A Mint State 68 Goodacre
Presentation Sacagawea dollar was sold at
auction by Heritage Numismatic Auctions in
September 2008 for $1,006.25.
The most expensive coin in the set (a coin that
now brings five-figure prices at auction) was
distributed randomly in a cereal promotion, and
its special status was not recognized until
years after the pieces were released.
As part of a campaign to promote the use of the
Sacagawea dollar in commerce, the U.S. Mint
partnered with General Mills to distribute 5,500
of the 2000-P Sacagawea dollars, randomly placed
inside boxes of Cheerios cereal of various
flavors. Although dated 2000-P, these coins were
struck in 1999.
What was not immediately recognized, or at least
confirmed, was that the 5,500 coins were struck
with a reverse die produced from a different hub
than that used for the regular issue Sacagawea
The differences between the two hubs are subtle,
affecting only the tail feathers of the eagle,
and could be easily overlooked.
The central line of the tail feather shaft is
raised on the Sacagawea dollars found in the
Cheerios packages, but recessed on coins struck
from circulation. The tail feathers on the
Cheerios dollars also have more detail than the
tail feathers on the other coins struck. The
changes to the design were deliberate to make
the tail feathers more realistic.
All later Sacagawea dollars were struck from
dies bearing a recessed central line on the
shaft of the tail feather. Even the 2000-P
Sacagawea dollars paid to recipients of vouchers
also found inside some Cheerios boxes, for 100
Sacagawea dollars, were coins bearing the
There is no way to know how many of the Cheerios
dollars were spent or may be sitting in
someone's dresser drawer, with an owner unaware
of owning something special and potentially
It may behoove those who still have an example
housed in its cellophanelike wrapper affixed to
cardboard backing to consider getting their
How special are they? At the 2008 ANA World's
Fair of Money, Heritage sold at auction a
Cheerios Sacagawea dollar graded MS-68 by
Professional Coin Grading Service and a PCGS
MS-66 red 2000-(P) Lincoln cent also pulled from
a Cheerios box. Offered as a single lot, the
pair realized $34,500.
The same die, or another die produced from the
same hub, as used for the 5,500 dollar coins was
also the version used for striking the reverse
for the dozen Proof 2000-W Sacagawea 22-karat
gold dollars that were placed aboard the space
shuttle Columbia during its July 23, 1999, space
One's collection of Sacagawea dollars should be
considered complete despite the lack of a gold
example, since these pieces were never issued.