Knowing the Sacagawea dollar key dates, rarities and varieties will teach you to recognize that small differences on a coin can mean significant differences in its value. Study the descriptions and photos below to help you identify these valuable Sacajawea dollar coins.
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In 1999, the United States Mint began to produce the Sacagawea dollars. To market the coins and encourage the public to use them, they partnered with several commercial businesses to promote the use of the new coins. One of the companies was General Mills, Inc. the Minneapolis, Minnesota manufacturer of breakfast cereals and other food products. The United States Mint produced 5,500 Sacagawea dollars in August or September 1999.
Although the dollars were minted in 1999, they were dated with a 2000-P obverse. However, the mint used a prototype reverse to produce these dollars. This prototype reverse varied slightly from the production coin die used to make the rest of the dollars in 2000.
General Mills then package these dollars in specially marked boxes of Cheerios. They advertised a "treasure hunt" and that one in every 2000 boxes of Cheerios would contain the new Sacajawea dollar. It wasn't until 2005 that coin collector Pat Braddick noticed the difference between a regular issued Sacagawea dollar and the ones that were placed in the boxes of Cheerios. Look for sharp and crisp details in the eagle's tail feathers to identify this rare variety.
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2000-P Goodacre Presentation Specimens
Glenna Goodacre's artistic rendering of Sacagawea won the $5,000 commission awarded by the United States Mint. Goodacre requested that her fee be delivered in Sacagawea dollars to her studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The dollars provided to her were different from the coins that were minted for regular circulation. The United States Mint struck them on burnished planchets that gave them a proof-like or "Specimen" appearance.
She had all 5,000 coins encapsulated and certified by Independent Coin Grading Company (ICG). However, ICG did not grade the coins, but the encapsulation did preserve their provenance as one of the original 5,000 pieces presented to Goodacre. She immediately offered 3,000 of the coins for sale at $200 each. In 2010, Kentucky coin dealer Jeff Garrett, owner of Mid-American Rare Coin Gallery in Lexington purchased the remaining 2,000 coins. He had all of them crossed-over into PCGS encapsulated holders and release them into the market through a variety of coin dealers.
Many collectors who purchased the original coins in ICG holders eventually submitted them to be graded and encapsulated into PCGS or NGC holders. There are no reports of collectors finding these in circulation.
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2000-P Wounded Eagle Die Variety
This die variety gets its name from three raised die flaws that cut across the lower portion of the eagle's torso and wing. Inspect your coin carefully with at least a 10X loupe or stereo microscope. Use a good light to make sure you can see these raised lines underneath the eagle's wings. Fewer than 200 specimens have been reported. It remains unknown as to the exact cause of the imperfections in the die that created these coins.
When you are inspecting your coins make sure that the lines are raised and not sunken into the design. Unscrupulous people have used tools to cut the lines into the coin's design in order to simulate the Wounded Eagle Die Variety. If you are unsure, take your coin to a local coin shop or coin show for an expert opinion.
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2007 Sacagawea Dollar With Edge Lettering
In 2007, Sacajawea dollars had the date and mintmark on the obverse to the right of the portrait. At the same time, presidential dollars were being minted with the date, mint mark and mottos incuse on the edge. Somehow a 2007 Sacajawea dollar received edge lettering intended for presidential dollars. Edge lettering was not used on the Sacagawea Dollar (a.k.a. Native American Dollars) until 2009.
Be careful if you purchase one of these on eBay or any other online auction site. The edge lettering can be easily added to the edge of a legitimate Sacajawea dollar. If you find one in circulation, you should send it to one of the third party grading companies for authentication and certification. That way, you can guarantee it is original, and the coin has not been altered since it left the mint.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Many More to Be Discovered
The varieties described above have already been found and documented. Given the millions of Sacajawea dollars that have already been minted, there are bound to be more. Pay attention to the design elements and devices. Look for abnormalities that differ from the common types of Sacajawea dollars. Compare your suspected die variety to a common coin to see if there are true differences that can be identified.