As part of a major innovative PR campaign, the United States Mint partnered with the American food company General Mills to promote the new Sacagawea dollar coins. In addition to the millions of dollars spent on TV ads and other activities, the Mint delivered 10 million Lincoln cents and 5,500 of the new Sacagawea coins to General Mills, which were then inserted into boxes of Cheerios cereal. While every box sold during the campaign contained a Lincoln cent, every 2,000th box had one of the new Sacagawea dollars, and every 4,400th box had a certificate redeemable for $100 to be paid out in Sacagawea dollars. Each of the newly labeled “Cheerios” cents was encapsulated within a plastic blister pack mounted on a black cardboard card. The card was decorated with images of the date, Sacagawea dollars, and Lincoln cents. Interestingly, while all the cents issued for this campaign were struck by the Philadelphia Mint, these images are all of “S” cents struck by the San Francisco Mint.
While NGC uses the designation “Cheerios Promotion” for the coin, and PCGS labels them as a Minor Variety, they are ordinary 2000-dated Philadelphia cents. In fact, the only way to differentiate them is the promotional packaging. Therefore, while the third-party grading companies do have a special designation “Cheerios” cents and dollars, the coins must be submitted sealed inside the original packaging.
Additionally, according to Richard Giedroyc, around one million or 10% of the “Cheerios” cents can be identified as Wide AM Reverse varieties, with the letters “AM” in “AMERICA” placed farther apart than the standard type. This means that these coins were struck using a Proof reverse die. However, in order to identify this variety, the coin would need to be removed from the original packaging, meaning that it would not receive the “Cheerios Promotion” designation.
The 2000 “Cheerios” Cent in Today’s Market
Currently, these cents have quite a premium over both standard strike and Proof finish 2000 cents. While the vast majority of standard strike 2000 (P and D) Lincoln cents are only worth face value, Red (RD) designated examples in high grade (MS 66 and higher) do bring between $30 and $50, with the auction record being set at $4,600 for a top pop example in 2006 in a Heritage Auctions sale. While only 4,047,993 Proof Sets were struck, these coins actually have an even smaller premium. Up to PR68DCAM/PF68UCAM, examples will sell for at most $5. In PR69DCAM/PF69UCAM, they sell for $5 to $10, and only in PR70DCAM/PF70UCAM do they sell for $20 to $30.
That being said, “Cheerios” cents sell for $5 to $10 in MS 63 and 64. As the condition rises to MS 65, it is not unusual for an example to sell for $15 to $20. Furthermore, a number of recent eBay sales featuring examples in MS 67 have seen the price skyrocket to between $125 and $150.
Finally, for the top grade designation (MS 68), these cents can bring in as much as $3,500 to $3,725. In fact, Stack’s Bowers sold one example described as “virtually pristine” with smooth fields and sharp details in May 2019 for $3,600.
The question is: Since these coins are not true varieties, do they deserve such large premiums? Even though the “Cheerios” cent does have an important numismatic connection to the “Cheerios” dollar, if you only look at the mintage numbers, then no. However, many collectors have demonstrated that they are willing to accept higher premiums for modern coins if the piece in question has some stand-out feature, such as a special release (Congratulations Set or Millennium Set coins) or interesting third-party holders or labels (PCGS Rattlers or NGC black holders).
The obverse of the 2000 Lincoln cent was designed by sculptor Victor David Brenner, whose initials VDB appear in tiny print under the shoulder of Abraham Lincoln’s bust. The right-facing profile of Lincoln shows the 16th president during his time as the nation’s commander in chief at the height of the Civil War, which spanned from 1861 through 1865, the latter being the year President Lincoln was assassinated.
To the right of Lincoln is the date 2000. Since the coin was struck at the Philadelphia Mint, there is no mintmark. Behind Lincoln’s head is the inscription LIBERTY. Centered along the upper rim of the coin, in an arc over Lincoln’s head, is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST.
The reverse of the 2000 Lincoln Memorial cent is anchored by an elevation view of the iconic Washington, D.C. memorial dedicated to the late president. The relatively high detail of the Lincoln Memorial design is sharp enough to reveal a tiny visage of Lincoln sitting in his chair, replicating the 19-foot-tall statue visitors will encounter inside the actual monument, which was dedicated in 1922.
Below the image of the Lincoln Memorial is the coin’s denomination, ONE CENT, and along the top center of the rim is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM is inscribed in two lines under the legend and above the Lincoln Memorial design. Designer Frank Gasparro’s initials FG are seen at the bottom right of the Lincoln Memorial just above a shrub.
The edge of the 2000 “Cheerios” Lincoln Cent is smooth or plain and without reeding, as are all other Lincoln cents.
Lithuanian-born coin designer Victor David Brenner is best known for his iconic design for the Lincoln cent (1909-Present) (View Designer’s Profile).
Frank Gasparro was an American medalist and coin designer, as well as the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1965 to 1981 (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||2000|
|Mint Mark:||None (Philadelphia)|
|Mintage:||10,000,000 (out of the standard 2000 issuance of 5,503,200,000)|
|Alloy:||95% copper, %5 tin and zinc|
|OBV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
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