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Sacagawea Dollar, 2000-Present : A Collector’s Guide

2000-D Sacagawea Dollar. Image: Adobe Stock.
2000-D Sacagawea Dollar. Image: Adobe Stock.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The Sacagawea Dollar Follows More Than Two Centuries of Dollar Coin Flops

Over the course of American history, the dollar coin has generally performed poorly as a circulating coin. In its first few years of operation, the United States Mint produced the dollar coin in relatively low numbers for merchants, who primarily used the coins to pay for importing goods from overseas merchants.

In 1803, the Jefferson Administration, realizing that the coin was simply a vehicle to export the country’s limited silver holdings, suspended production of the dollar coin and ordered the Mint to produce no silver coin with a denomination higher than 50 cents. The suspension of dollar coin production in 1803 is one of the reasons why the discovery of the 1804 dollar in the mid-19th century caused such a sensation.

An image of classic U.S. dollar coins.
The United States has a long and troubled history with the dollar coin. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

While the Mint got the go-ahead to strike dollar coins again in the 1830s, it was the 1840 release of the Liberty Seated dollar that marked the one-dollar coin’s return to circulation. The Liberty Seated dollar saw limited circulation but was not the workhorse coin the Founding Fathers envisioned when they designed the national coinage with the Mint Act of 1792.

In 1849, a small gold dollar coin was introduced and circulated alongside the larger silver dollar. The button-sized gold dollar did not fare well either. With each passing year, mintages declined. The Mint continued to issue a few thousand of these coins per year, primarily for collectors, before Congress discontinued the gold dollar in 1889.

After 30 years of production of the Liberty Seated dollar, Congress ordered the suspension of silver dollar coinage in 1873. That same year, Congress ordered the production of the Trade dollar to provide American businesses with a convenient method to pay for overseas goods. Congress never meant for the coin to circulate domestically.

When large stores of silver were discovered in the western territories, partisan politicians lobbied Congress to return to a bimetallic system, where silver dollars circulated freely as legal tender. Calling the Coinage Act of 1873, which eliminated the dollar coin, the “Crime of ’73“, the pro-silver faction overrode a presidential veto and saw the resumption of silver dollar production. The government was choking on millions of unwanted dollar coins within a few years. In 1904, the government again suspended production.

The dollar coin did not fare much better in the 20th century. After an extended period of no dollar coins, Congress again compelled the Mint to strike hundreds of millions of silver dollars, starting in 1921. The redux of the Morgan dollar and, later, the production of the Peace dollar allowed the government to replenish its silver dollar stockpile after it had sold hundreds of millions of ounces of bullion to the British during World War I. These coins only widely circulated in the sparsely-populated western states. The Treasury Department placed most of the coins struck during this period in storage.

In the mid-1960s, heavy speculation depleted the government’s stockpile of silver dollar coins. In 1964, facing a national silver coin shortage, the Johnson Administration considered striking new silver dollars, but Congress forbade it. Instead, Congress passed new legislation that ended the use of 90% silver in America’s dimes, quarters, and half dollars.

This 1971-D Eisenhower Dollar was sold at a April 2023 Stack's Bowers auction for $840.
This 1971-D Eisenhower Dollar was sold at a April 2023 Stack’s Bowers auction for $840.

In 1971, two years after the passing of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Congress enacted legislation authorizing the introduction of a new dollar coin, the Eisenhower dollar. The Eisenhower dollar was struck in a copper-nickel-clad composition for circulation and a silver-clad composition for premium collector versions.

These coins shared the same diameter as the Morgan and Peace dollars, making them unnecessarily awkward and unwieldy. Because of this, the Eisenhower dollar saw limited circulation.

In 1979, Congress tried again and authorized the production of a small-diameter-clad dollar coin in hopes that a dollar could circulate alongside the paper dollar. The resulting Susan B. Anthony dollar proved to be an absolute boondoggle.

Nearly the same size and color as a quarter, over half a billion coins were struck in the program’s first year. By year three, the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was only produced for Mint Sets. After 1981, the coin wouldn’t be struck again until a surprise reissue in 1999.

Learning from the Mistakes of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar

In contrast to the general public, who soundly rejected the concept, Congress nonetheless remained enamored with the idea of a dollar coin and enacted new legislation calling for the Minting of new dollars.

With the Dollar Coin Act of 1997, Congress tried to correct the mistake it made in 1979 by ensuring that the American public would not mistake the new dollar coin for a quarter or half a dollar.

Native American Dollar and Sacagawea Dollar. Image: Adobe Stock.
Native American Dollar and Sacagawea Dollar. Image: Adobe Stock.

Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin created a Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee to evaluate design concepts, specifying that the new dollar represents one or more women, though not any living person.

In June 1998, the committee recommended that the obverse represent Sacagawea, a Native American Lemhi Shoshone woman who was an interpreter and guide to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their exploratory trek to the Pacific Ocean.

The Sacagawea dollar is the first entirely new coin series issued by the United States in the new millennium. It is an attractive coin with modern features that could have experienced widespread circulation had the Treasury Department agreed to phase out the $1 Federal Reserve Note. The Treasury Department didn’t; in short order, demand for the coin from America’s financial institutions and their customers dried up quickly. Within a few years, the government’s warehouses were once again clogged with bags upon bags of unwanted dollar coins.

In the unlikely event that one might encounter a Sacagawea dollar in commerce, the date will most likely be either 2000 or 2001.

In 2007, Congress again tried to force the circulation of the dollar coin by introducing a new series of circulating commemorative issues honoring America’s presidents. The Presidential dollar coin supplanted the Sacagawea dollar for the program’s first two years. In 2007, the Philadelphia Mint produced over 472 million Presidential dollars and just 3,640,000 Sacagawea dollar coins.

The last year that the United States Mint struck the Sacagawea dollar with Thomas D. Rogers, Sr.’s original reverse design was 2008. From 2009 onward, the Mint changed the reverse annually. To delineate between the original Sacagawea dollar coin of 2000-2008 and the coins with rotating reverses, Congress renamed the series the Native American dollar.

With the Native American dollar, Congress has shifted the emphasis of the coin from artist Glenna Goodacre’s beautiful Sacagawea with child portrait to the coin’s rotating reverses. There was a brief uptick in Native American dollar mintages from 2009 to 2011.

After it became evident that the Presidential dollar coin program would not succeed where the Sacagawea dollar failed, the Mint reduced production of all dollar coins to a level where it would simply meet the demand of its numismatic customers.

Sacagawea Dollar with Original Obverse (2000-2008)

Native American Dollar Program (2009-Present)

2024 Native American Dollar. Image: United States Mint.
2024 Native American Dollar. Image: United States Mint.

Starting in 2009 with the Native American $1 Coin Act (PDF Link), the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar was changed annually, so that the coin’s “b-side” would honor Native Americans and their contributions to the United States. The Act also established a quota, whereby 20% of the annual dollar coin mintage would be of the Native American dollar coin design. These changes breathed new life into the series as an entry-level numismatic collectible, but did not spark public enthusiasm to spend the coin. In fact, most Americans are unfamiliar with the new annual designs.

To differentiate between the Sacagawea dollars struck from 2000-2008 and those that came after, popular references and the United States Mint refer to the present period of Sacagawea dollars as Native American dollars. Below is a list of subjects featured on the annual reverse from 2009 to date.

  • 2009 – Three Sisters
  • 2010 – Great Law of Peace
  • 2011 – Wampanoag Treaty
  • 2012 – Trade Routes of the 17th Century
  • 2013 – Treaty with the Delawares
  • 2014 – Native Hospitality
  • 2015 – Mohawk Ironworkers (2015-D Collector’s Guide)
  • 2016 – Code Talkers
  • 2017 – Sequoyah
  • 2018 – Jim Thorpe
  • 2019 – American Indians in Space
  • 2020 – Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law
  • 2021 – American Indians in the U.S. Military
  • 2022 – Ely S. Parker
  • 2023 – Maria Tallchief and American Indians on Ballet
  • 2024 – Indian Citizenship Act of 1924

Collecting Sacagawea and Native American Dollars

On the whole, the Sacagawea dollar is a common coin, readily available in Mint State. Because of this, coin collectors typically collect this series in brilliant, uncirculated condition. Uncirculated coins from this series can be purchased individually, in bag and roll quantity, or with other coins from a given year in the United States Mint’s annual Proof Set and Mint Set offerings.

Most certified business strike Sacagawea dollars will grade MS-65 or finer.

Prices are very modest through MS-67, but in MS-68 or better, some coins have sold for hundreds of dollars. The market for conditionally rare modern coins is highly volatile, and most of these top-pop coins lose value over time.

The value of a certified Sacagawea dollar depends on its grade and the conditional rarity of the given issue. Please note: only coins that are certified by CACG, NGC, or PCGS trade for any significant premium over face value. All circulated coins are worth face value unless they are a noteworthy variety.

While not the norm, many Sacagawea dollars exhibit Prooflike surfaces.

Unimpaired Proof coins are also widely collected. The Mint sold these coins to collectors in annual Proof Sets. Suppose a collector or dealer sends an unopened, original Proof Set to a grading service for certification. In that case, the likely outcome will be that the coin grades Proof 69 or Proof 70 with Deep Cameo contrast.

Considering the cost to submit coins for encapsulation, the Sacagawea or Native American dollar coins have to grade PR-70DCAM to not fall short of the terminal point. Uncirculated coins typically have to be graded MS-67 or better to do the same.

Collectors will generally collect the series by date and mint mark. Business strike Sacagawea dollars are produced yearly at the Philadelphia and Denver mints. Proof strikes are produced each year at the San Francisco Mint.

Additional CoinWeek Resources

CoinWeek Podcast #62: Glenna Goodacre’s Sacagawea Dollar Experience with Dan Anthony

 

The artist’s longtime friend and manager Dan Anthony discusses Goodacre’s career in the run up of an April 6, 2017 auction of her works.

CoinWeek Podcast #6: Philip Diehl Talks State Quarters, the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, and the Sacagawea Dollar

 

Mint Director Philip N. Diehl discusses the work that went into creating the 50 State Quarters Program, the 1999 return of the Susan B. Anthony dollar, and the launch of the Sacagawea dollar.

A First-Hand Account of the Launch of the Sacagawea Dollar

Former Mint Director Diehl was a principle architect for the Mint’s efforts to produce the 50 State Quarters Program and the Sacagawea dollar. Although he was replaced by Jey Johnson before the Sacagawea dollar’s 2000 launch, he did provide CoinWeek with a series of articles that touched on the different facets of the coin’s production and early distribution efforts:

 

The Golden Dollar: Story of the Sacagaweas

Writer Lianna Spurrier discusses the marketing campaign used to promote the release of the Sacagawea dollar:

Artist Glenna Goodacre : Beyond the Sacagawea Dollar

Artist Glenna Goodacre created the obverse design, showing Sacagawea (in three-quarter profile) carrying her infant son Jean Baptiste on her back. Though no portrait of Sacagawea is known, Goodacre used as a living model Randy’L Teton, a modern woman from the same tribe.

Goodacre was a nationally-known artist born in Lubbock, Texas, on August 28, 1939. Before designing the Sacagawea dollar, Goodacre designed a number of important public memorials, including the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Irish Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the course of her five-decade career, Goodacre’s sculptures focused on childhood, the struggles of ordinary people, and of the lives of Native Americans, among other themes.

Her Sacagawea design may have been her most well-known artwork, but it is a small piece of a large body of exceptional late-20th-century American sculpture.

Goodacre died on April 13, 2020. She was 80 years old.

Sacagawea Dollar Varieties and Mint Errors

Washington Quarter/Sacagawea Dollar Mule

A rare Sacagawea Dollar / Washington Quarter mule. Image: GreatCollections.
A rare Sacagawea Dollar / Washington Quarter mule. Image: GreatCollections.

Sometimes called the “Holy Grail of U.S. Mint errors”, the Washington quarter/Sacagawea dollar mule was discovered in May 2000 by collector Frank Wallis of Mountain View, Arkansas. The coin features the obverse a State Quarter and the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar. New of the release of this $1.25 error coin made national news. Within months, three more Sacagawea mules were discovered in circulation. In August 2000, the Mint conducted an extensive internal investigation, destroying several thousand coins and charging two Mint workers with removing mule errors and selling them for thousands of dollars.

Today, most of the Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter mules are held by collector Tommy Bolack, including the most recent one to sell at a auction, which brought a record price of $194,062.50 USD.

Cheerios Dollar and related promotional materials.
Cheerios Dollar and related General Mills promotional materials.

2000-P Cheerios Dollar

Along with extensive television commercials, print ads, and convention presentations, the Mint collaborated with retail giant Walmart, who took the initial delivery of the coins to use as change from store purchases.

General Mills also placed one of 5,500 Sacagawea dollars in every 2,000th box of Honey Nut Cheerios breakfast cereal. With this promotion, 11 million boxes were seeded with either a 2000-P Lincoln cent or a 2000-P Lincoln cent and a 2000-P dollar coin. The odds of pulling a Sacagawea dollar out of a box of cereal was pretty low, with only 5,500 coins inserted. An immediate aftermarket for the coins developed, with some trading on eBay for $50 to $100. It wasn’t until five years later when collectors began to notice that many of the Cheerios coins were different than the regular circulation strikes. The feather detail on the bird was enhanced.

The Cheerios dollar went from a novelty coin to a major variety. Today, Cheerios dollars trade for thousands of dollars.

2000-P Wounded Eagle Variety

A less publicized but still important early 2000-P Sacagawea dollar variety is the FS-901, Wounded Eagle. This variety features a raised die line that cuts through the eagle’s torso. This variety is scarce and trades for hundreds of dollars in lower Mint State grades and up to $1,000 for a high-end example.

Goodacre Presentation Coins

ICG Certified the special finish coins paid our to coin designer Glnna Goodacre.

Artist Glenna Goodacre was paid $5,000 in the form of 5,000 2000-P Sacagawea dollar coins. These coins, unlike those released into circulation, were treated with a special finish and are known as the Goobacre Presentation Coins.

The late Michael “Miles” Standish tried to negotiate an exclusive deal with Goodacre to have the coins certified by PCGS along with a signature label program, but Goodacre instead opted to give the deal to ICG. Over time, many of these coins have been cracked out and crossed over by NGC and PCGS.

24K Gold Sacagawea “Space” Dollars

Interestingly, some golden dollars were actually struck in gold. In total, 39 22-karat gold Sacagawea dollars were struck at West Point in 1999 (though dated 2000), but were not for circulation. Twelve of the real gold dollars went to space on Space Shuttle Columbia in July 1999, joining a short but surprising list of U.S. coins that have left the confines of Earth. After returning to Earth, the 22-karat gold Sac dollars were deposited at Fort Knox. The remaining 27 coins were melted down.

2014-D Sacagawea Mule / Presidential Mule. Image: NGC.
2014-D Sacagawea Mule / Presidential Mule. Image: NGC.

Sacagawea Dollar/Presidential Dollar Mule

In 2021, NGC reported the certification of the first known mule of a Sacagawea dollar and a Presidential dollar. The coin was struck at the Denver Mint in 2014 and graded AU-58. Given the popularity of the Sacagawea dollar/State quarter mule, this rare error gained national attention upon its discovery. The coin sold for $84,000 on April 24, 2021, at Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night sale in Dallas, Texas. It was the first public offering of the coin, which will someday sell again for over $100,000.

To date, no other example of this error has been reported.

Design

Obverse:

The obverse features a centered portrait of Sacagawea, body oriented away from the coin but head turned back to the right to face the viewer. Dressed in native clothes, she carries on her back her sleeping infant son. LIBERTY is at the top, concentric with a wide flat rim. IN GOD WE TRUST is found in two lines to the left of the portrait, and the date is at the lower right of the portrait (the date was moved to the edge starting in 2009). Sacagawea dollars were minted in Philadelphia and Denver for circulation, and San Francisco for Proofs; P, D, and S mint
marks are centered below the date. The designer’s initials GG are located on the lower part of the folded cloth wrapped around the infant.

Reverse:

The original reverse of the Sacagawea dollar was designed by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Thomas D. Rogers, Sr. Through 2008, the reverse features a centered flying eagle, surrounded by a circle of 17 small five-pointed stars (representing the number of states at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition), separated into three groups by the eagle’s wing tips and tail feathers. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at the top and ONE DOLLAR at the bottom arc just inside the flat rim. E PLURIBUS UNUM is above and to the left of the eagle, and the designer’s initial TDR are just to the right of the last R in DOLLAR.

The reverse design and text were changed starting in 2009, with designs that represent Native American contributions to the history of the United States. Sacagawea dollars from 2000 through 2008 have a plain edge; starting in 2009, the year of minting, the mintmark, and the mottos E PLURIBUS UNUM and IN GOD WE TRUST were moved to the edge.

Coin Specifications

Sacagawea/Native American Dollar
Years Of Issue: 2000-Present
Mintage (Circulation): High: 767,140,000 (2000-P); Low: 1,260,000 (Various)
Mintage (Proof): High: 4,047,904 (2000-S); Low: 745,815 (2021-S)
Alloy: Outer layers of 77% copper, 12% zinc, 7% manganese, and 4% nickel (manganese-brass); inner core is pure copper
Weight: 8.1 g
Diameter: 26.5 mm
Edge: Plain (2000-2008); Lettered (2009-Present): Date, Mintmark, E PLURIBUS UNUM, and IN GOD WE TRUST.
OBV Designer Glenna Goodacre
REV Designer Thomas D. Rogers, Sr. (2000-2008); Various (2009-)

 

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References

Bowers, Q. David. The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Whitman Publishing.

–. A Guide Book of Modern United States Dollar Coins. Whitman Publishing.

–. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Whitman Publishing.

Guth, Ron and Jeff Garrett. United States Coinage: A Study by Type. Whitman Publishing.

United States Small Size Dollar Coins: www.smalldollars.com

Yeoman, R.S and Jeff Garrett (editor). The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Whitman Publishing.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Any value on a 2000 p Sacajawea Cheerios dollar coin boldly detailed tail feathers? On the flip side of coin with feathers it reads as E
    Pluribus Unum and the initial of the engraver for this side of the itself reads a t _ _. I cannot make out the three initials

    • The 2000-P Cheerios dollar is the most valuable of the Sacagawea dollars that are in public hands. We imagine that the 24 karat gold examples would be worth more – but they are all held by the federal government. The key to insuring that you actually have a Cheerios dollar is to have it authenticated by a major service.

  2. I have 12 Sacagawea gold dollars…..I have a album with Abraham Lincoln speech on it….I have a album with Richard Nixon speech on it ….I have two album with Shakespeare speech on it…..I have wheat penny….two 1929…two 1944…. Two 1952….three 1945….one 1953….one 1924….one 1934…. one 1925…. one 1955…. one 1939.

  3. I have 3 different Sacagawea coins all with 2000 P :#1 two toned
    coin is platinum\chromelike looking color with her face yellow gold and the eagle on the back is yellow gold as well #2 same but satin finish on silver part but gold on face and eagle on back &#3 looks solid bronze can anyone help me identify and possibly value these .I can’t seem to find any info on or any coins similar anywhere would greatly appreciate anyone’s help .

    • Sacagawea dollars tarnish in circulation and after a while turn a dark, dull goldenrod color. They can also develop a light patina if not stored in an inert environment. What you describe sounds like ordinary oxidation and variances in color. In all likelihood, your coins are worth face value.

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