The Sacagawea coin was officially released for circulation on January 27, 2000. To understand the beginning of the Golden Dollar coin, and why some are becoming so valuable, let’s go back a few years to its creation.
The Demise of Dollar Coins
There have been several attempts to put a dollar U.S. coin into circulation over the last 50 years, none of which were very successful.
The 1971–1978 Eisenhower dollars were unusually large by coin standards at 1.5 inches in diameter and didn’t gain much popularity with the public other than as casino tokens.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin debuted in 1979 but was discontinued by 1981.
The Dollar Coin Comeback
In 1997, members of Congress passed the United States Dollar Coin Act, a bill calling for the return of the dollar coin.
In December, President Bill Clinton signed the 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act, which included a section titled the United States $1 Coin Act of 1997.
It outlined the specifications of a new dollar coin, saying, “The dollar coin shall be golden in color, have a distinctive edge, have tactile and visual features that make the denomination of the coin readily discernible.”
The act also specified the Susan B. Anthony dollar would resume production at the U.S. Mint until the new dollar with its distinctive golden color could be released.
The Dollar Coin Contest
In June of 1998, the public was given a chance to propose ideas for the coin.
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin gathered a dollar coin design advisory committee requiring the first coin feature representations of no living person and at least one woman.
The committee in charge chose the suggested design concept of Sacagawea, the Shoshone Native American woman who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean.
Despite a poll by the general public that overwhelmingly declared a preference for the Statue of Liberty, Sacagawea won.
The Sacagawea Dollar Coin Design
The dollar coin contest rules stated the front of the coin had to depict Sacagawea and the back had to show an eagle as a symbol of freedom and peace.
The United States Commission of Fine Arts chose sculptor Glenna Goodacre as the winner for the final designs on the obverse side of the coin.
Her composition featured Sacagawea with her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. The infant’s father was Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian guide and interpreter on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Randy’L He-dow Teton
As a model for the coin, Goodacre used a present-day Shoshone college student, Randy’L He-dow Teton.
US Mint sculptor-engraver Thomas D. Rogers won with his reverse design of a soaring eagle.
The reverse also included the traditional coin phrase, E Pluribus Unum, One Dollar, and United States of America.
From 2000 to 2008, these designs appeared on the coin, but that changed in 2009.
The Native American One Dollar Coin Act
In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the Native American $1 Coin Act, which required “images celebrating the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the development of the United States and the history of the United States.”
As a result, new designs honoring Native American tribes appeared on the reverse side of the coins every year. The coin was known as the Native American Dollar.
At the end of 2009, the coins had become unpopular for usage as daily money and were only being made for collectors.
As such, the Federal Reserve Bank stopped ordering them, and the uncirculated coins sat in vaults at the treasury department and the United States Mint.
Sacagawea Dollar Coin Composition
The Sacagawea Dollar coin, otherwise known as the Golden US Dollar, weighs 8.1 grams, is .079 inches thick, and measures 1.043 inches in diameter.
It’s comprised of a copper core, which is 88.5% of the metal used, as well as 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese, and 2% nickel.
It was the first U.S. dollar coin to use an outer layer of manganese brass, giving it a golden color.
Sacagawea Golden Dollar coins were minted at four mints –
- Philadelphia (P)
- Denver (D)
- San Francisco (S)
- West Point (W) special striking only
Sacagawea Dollar Coin Values
Most Sacagawea dollars are only worth face value when circulated. This is true of all 2000 P and D mint coins and all coins minted in 2001 and later, regardless of mintmark.
Uncirculated values rise a bit, with all 2009 and later coins worth somewhere between $1.50 and $2.
Coins from 2001 and 2002, regardless of mintage, are worth anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50, as are 2007 and 2008 coins.
The 2003 P coins can fetch between $3 and $4. All 2005 coins and 2006 P coins can net up to $3.50.
The 2003 D and all 2004 Sacagawea Native American Dollars are anywhere from $3.50 to $5.00. The 2006 D versions are rarer and worth between $5 and $7.
Most Valuable Sacagawea Dollars
Now we get to Sacagawea dollar coins worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Let’s dive in.
While the regular Sacagawea dollars are still valued at only one dollar, keep your eyes peeled for these rare variations. As with dimes, nickels, quarters, and pennies, you never know when a treasure will roll in your direction.
Sacagawea Coin 2000-P Wounded Eagle
The name “wounded eagle” comes from three raised die flaws on the Eagle on the reverse side of the Sacagawea dollar coin.
No one has reached a consensus on why the coin has these marks, but only about 200 are known. The marks are quite small, with two on the upper wing and one on the chest.
Expert numismatics know exactly where to look, but it’s likely you’ll need a microscope or high-powered magnifying glass to spot the flaws.
In circulated condition, the “wounded eagle” coin is worth around $250. In uncirculated condition, they can be worth nearly $500.
2000-P Presentation Sacagawea Coin
There were 5,000 of these “presentation” coins minted. Why 5,000? These specific coins were the payment to Glenna Goodacre for her obverse design of the dollar.
They have a different appearance from circulated coins because they were struck on burnished planchets, giving them a rougher texture.
Glenna sold 3,000 of her coins, receiving $200 a piece for them.
So far, none have turned up in circulation, and if they did, their value would be close to the uncirculated value, which is about $350.
2007-D Sacagawea Dollar Coin
There’s only one confirmed example of a Sacagawea dollar featuring Presidential dollar edge lettering rather than the typical plain edge.
A coin collector from Colorado, Andrew Moores, discovered the coin in pocket change.
The error coin has been graded in Mint State 62 condition by Professional Coin Grading Service (PGS).
About a decade ago, the ultra-rare coin was sold at a Great Collections auction for over $17,000.
Sacagawea Coin 2000-P Cheerios Dollar
Values jump considerably with the Cheerios coin. Let’s give some background. To promote the coin’s release, General Mills decided to give away 2,000 of the coins.
The way they did this was to include them in 2,000 boxes of Cheerios as a prize, with the other 10,000,000 boxes each containing a 2000 Lincoln penny.
Interestingly, these dollars were minted in 1999, and the stamping for the reverse side was a prototype die.
The Eagle had more texture to its tail feathers, among other slight differences. So how much are these Cheerios dollars worth?
A circulated example of the coin could have a value of up to $1,500. An uncirculated example could be worth over $3,000. If you have a circa 2000 box of Cheerios still in the pantry, you may want to open it now.
Sacagawea Dollar Coin Mint Sets
Coin collectors and numismatics who prefer collecting the entire set of Sacagawea coins can find affordable options.
The U.S. Mint offers the entire 22 coin set, plus an additional proof dollar, for $300.
The set includes one Sacagawea dollar coin from each year beginning in the year 2000 through 2022. All coins in the set are struck at the San Francisco Mint.
Sacagawea Dollar Coin Errors
The raised die flaws on the wounded Eagle dollar coins are not the only errors minted. In early 2000, a coin collector was flipping through a roll of Sacagawea coins and noticed a stunning flaw.
Sacagawea Mule Error
The collector noticed what is now known as the “Mule Error.” His coin had the reverse of a typical Sacagawea coin, but the obverse of a Statehood quarter.
Mule error coins trace back to U.S. Mint die room, where an obverse die for a quarter was mistakenly used for the Sacagawea dollar.
A few years ago, a mule error coin certified by NGC sold at a Dallas auction for $84,000.
A Deeper Look at the Sacagawea Dollar Coin –
So Far, We Learned –
- President Clinton signed the Commemorative Coin Program Act in 1997, including a section calling for a new gold dollar coin. A design competition was held and the Sacagawea design was chosen.
- College student Randy’L Hedow Teton was chosen to model for the Obverse portrait of the coin, and the eagle design by sculptor Thomas D. Rogers was selected for the Reverse.
- The Sacagawea coin was the first U.S. coin with a manganese brass outer layer providing a golden shine.
- The most valuable Sacagawea dollar coin sold for over $100,000. Known as the Cheerios coin, it was given away by General Mills inside boxes of Cheerios.
But There’s Much More to the Sacagawea Dollar –
- The U.S. Mint debated the issue of 22-karat gold Sacagawea coins but the idea was quickly scrapped. A few coins were struck in gold and remain in the Mint’s possession.
- Crisp, sharp detail in the eagle’s tail feathers distinguish the highly valuable and rare ‘Cheerios’ dollar coin from regular Sacagawea coins.
- Even after a public poll of 65% favoring a Statue of Liberty design rather than Sacagawea, the very first striking of the new U.S. dollar currency proceeded on November 18th, 1999.
- There is one single Sacagawea coin struck in 2007 with edge lettering from the Presidential dollar coins. Mistakenly stamped on the edge of the coin, it sold at auction for over $17,000 in 2012.
More Rare Coin Discussion –
- Sell coins online with our quick and simple guide.
- Learn to value your rare coins with our tips for numismatics research.
- Just want to start with coin basics? Here are the U.S. Coin fundamentals.
Additional Resources –
Golden Dollar Pricing – PCGS
MS68 Grade NGC Certified Coins – eBay