On Sunday, September 11, GreatCollections.com offered a very interesting lot consisting of a 2000-P Sacagawea Cheerios Dollar graded MS 68 PCGS and a Cheerios Lincoln Cent graded MS 65 – along with the original Card of Issue. With a limited number of sets distributed, it was an unusual opportunity to purchase a rare pattern type. After 37 bids, the coins sold for $8,350 USD ($9,393.75 with buyer’s premium).
In the buildup to the official release of the Sacagawea dollar in 2000, the United States Mint hit on an innovative promotional idea: Why not use their new coin as a cereal prize?
Working in partnership with General Mills, the Mint decided that every box of Cheerios sold in January 2000 would contain a Philadelphia cent struck in 2000 and every 2,000th box would have both the cent and a first year-of-issue Philadelphia Sacagawea dollar. As an added prize, every 4,400th box contained both coins and a certificate redeemable for $100 worth of the new dollar coins. Several thousand examples, like this particular coin, have an enhanced reverse design known today as the Prototype Reverse Type. All known coins with this ribbing are circulation strike, and no Proof examples are known. It is, however, unknown how many of these coins with the enhanced prototype reverse design survive since the type was not discovered until 2005.
With a total population of just under 200 pieces (PCGS records a total of 144 coins and NGC records 53), these coins are quite rare. It is not unusual for MS 68 examples, which account for 37.6% of the total population, to sell for over $10,000. Since a large percentage of these two-coin packs were found by children, many do not survive today, the coins having been removed, spent, and the packaging thrown away. As a result, it is extremely rare to find the package included as part of the sale.
The obverse design of the golden dollar portrays Sacagawea, a member of the Lemhi Shoshone Native American tribe who acted as the guide for the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805-6. While her bust’s torso is facing right in a classic three-quarter profile, Sacagawea looks directly at the viewer and carries her infant son Jean Baptiste on her back. Since the design guidelines requested that all submissions “be sensitive to cultural authenticity and try to avoid creating a representation of a classical European face in Native American headdress”, Sacagawea is depicted in a naturalistic style; sculptor Glenna Goodacre used a modern-day Shoshone woman named Randy’L He-dow Teton as her model.
Like many US coins, the Sacagawea reverse is dominated by an eagle. With outstretched wings, the eagle soars to the left. Above the eagle’s head is the US motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The entire design is ringed by the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination ONE DOLLAR. The eagle’s right wing tip overlaps slightly with “OF” at the top of the coin. Within the legend is a ring of 17 stars. These five-pointed stars represent all of the states belonging to the Union at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For this “Cheerios” type, the Mint used an enhanced reverse die that created a much more detailed crisscrossed texture on the eagle’s tail feathers.
Unlike the Cheerios dollar, the Lincoln cent is a standard design and is indistinguishable from all circulation types struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
The edges of both coins are plain, as it is for all Lincoln cents and Sacagawea Dollars.
Unusually, this lot included the original cardboard and plastic blister pack that protected the coins from the cereal. On the reverse is a certificate of authenticity electronically signed by Philip N. Diehl, the Director of the Mint during the Clinton Adminsitration.
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