Sacagawea Dollars: Values, Info & Fun Facts About The ‘Golden Dollar’

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Sacagawea dollars — otherwise known as ‘the golden dollar’ when first released in 2000 — feature the young Shoshone Native American woman Sacagawea and her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

Sacagawea’s significance in American history is that of guide and translator for much of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 and 1805.

Glenna Goodacre designed the obverse portrait featuring the young Sacagawea.

 

About The Sacagawea Dollar

Sacagawea dollars first came about as the demand for dollar coins rose during the mid-1990s.

The United States $1 Coin Act of 1997 authorized the production of a new dollar coin.

By the end of 1999, most the  public became aware of the highly publicized image of Sacagawea carrying her son.

In fact, there was a nationwide promotion for the Sacagawea dollar. Even Cheerios chimed in on the action, offering a Sacagawea dollar coin in certain select boxes of the beloved cereal.

So Why Aren’t We Able to Find Many Sacagawea Dollars In Pocket Change?

As you’ve noticed by now, most people aren’t using the Sacagawea dollar in day-to-day transactions. Yet, the golden dollar was supposed to be a revolutionary coin that would prompt Americans to use a dollar coin.

So what happened?

Lots of factors got in the way of Americans using a dollar coin.

Probably the most important issues are:

  • The dollar bill was still being made.
  • Creatures of habit we are, we generally opted to use the dollar bill over the dollar coin since we still had the choice.
  • Many people don’t like the heavier weight of the dollar coin versus the dollar bill.
  • Too many coin-operated machines can’t accept dollar coins.
  • Some cash tills and other coin containers and holders don’t have a convenient spot for dollar coins.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Treasury still continued trying to make the case that dollar coins were the way to go — and for good reason. It’s cheaper, in the long run, to make dollar coins rather than dollar bills.

Think of it this way:

  • It costs around only 12 cents to make a dollar coin that lasts 30 years.
  • We spend about 3 cents to produce dollar bills that have a lifespan of about 18 months.

See the benefit there in that math equation? Yep, we’d save hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of several years if we switched solely to making dollar coins.

What Makes The ‘Golden Dollar’ Golden

Curious about what goes into making a golden dollar look that way? It’s a combination of a few metals, mainly copper.

  • 88.5% copper
  • 6% zinc
  • 3.5% manganese
  • 2% nickel

Quite a brew, huh?


How Many Sacagawea Dollars Have Been Made?

The bulk of the mintage of the Sacagawea dollar was predominately from the coin’s first 2 years: 2000 and 2001. By 2002, the U.S. Mint began reducing the number of Sacagawea dollars being made. By 2003, the coin was in production virtually just for the sake of inclusion in coin collectors’ coin sets.

Here’s a look at the approximate mintages from the first 5 years of the Sacagawea dollar, not including proofs:

  • 2000 1.3 billion (yes, billion with a ‘B.’)
  • 2001 133 million
  • 2002 7.6 million
  • 2003 6.2 million
  • 2004 5.3 million

The Value Of Sacagawea Dollars

Though you don’t probably don’t see Sacagawea dollars often, nothing about them is rare, and there are really no ‘valuable’ Sacagawea dollars, except for those which have been certified by coin grading services and have a perfect or nearly perfect grade.

Any you find in circulation are worth just $1. Even those in typical uncirculated grades have a value of about $1.50 to $2.

There are 5,000 special Sacagawea dollars dated for the year 2000 that were given to Glenna Goodacre as payment for her design contribution. These have a shiny finish and are worth about $300 apiece.

What’s Up With The Sacagawea Dollar Lately?

Beginning in 2009, the U.S. Mint removed the flying eagle reverse on the Sacagawea dollar and has replaced it with designs that will change annually until 2016. Constituting the Native American Dollar Coin series, these special reverse designs honor various aspects of Native American culture, tradition, and history.

The Sacagawea design remains unchanged on the obverse.

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83 thoughts on “Sacagawea Dollars: Values, Info & Fun Facts About The ‘Golden Dollar’”

  1. Another interesting fact. Since 2002, the US has sent over $500 million in Sacagaweas to Ecuador whose government has monetized the US dollar. There it circulates in the economy and is popular with the people as they identify Sacagawea as an Ecuadorian native (Amerind) woman. Additionally, they extend currency life as they last longer in the tropical environment than paper currency does.

    Reply
  2. Actually, vending machines made since 2000 are electronically configured to process dollar coins. The problem is that some manufacturers continued to use smaller slots that prevent insertion of any coin larger than a quarter, effectively negating all those internal upgrades.

    Cash registers have a somewhat similar problem. Some manufacturers have opted to make drawers with only four coin slots, using the remaining space as a kind of utility tray. Plus even when they have five slots available, cashiers still use the fifth one as a catch-all for paper clips, rubber bands, etc. The former could be fixed with new standards, and the latter could be addressed through behavioral changes.

    Finally, it’s important to note the level of politics involved in continued production of $1 bills. Crane Paper, the company that makes the special cotton-linen “paper” for banknotes, has long lobbied Congress to continue printing dollar bills because they account for almost half of Crane’s production. Congress has gone so far as to legislate that even the bill’s antiquated design can’t be updated. Depending on whose figures you use, the resulting waste adds up to at least three-quarters of a billion dollars a year and leaves the US as the only major country that hasn’t replaced its low-value notes with coins.

    Reply
    • Hi, Christian —

      If your coin is worn, it’s worth face value. All but the best mint condition (uncirculated) pieces are worth $1.50 to $3.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Alex —

      The photos are grainy, but this one might be worth getting attributed. I’d hate to have you take your time if it’s machine doubling but don’t want to have you miss out if it’s something more, and the last close-up images aren’t showing me as much of what I’ll need to see… I’m sorry.

      You might consider sending the coin here: https://www.doubleddie.com/

      Good luck!
      Josh

      Reply
  3. Hi, Alex —

    It’s hard to say for sure on the 1935-S without seeing more images of the entire coin but it looks like this piece, from what I see, may have machine doubling.

    The 1969-D looks like a possible repunched mintmark and, if it verifies, would be worth about 50 cents.

    The 1992 cent looks like it has light machine doubling, too.

    I’m really impressed by all of the anomalies you’re finding Alex! I know they aren’t always worth millions, but you’ve got an amazing set of eyes! Keep looking!

    Cheers,
    Josh

    Reply
    • Hi, Alex —

      I’m afraid not; it’s a business-strike 1975 Roosevelt dime from the Philadelphia Mint. It’s worn and is thus worth face value.

      Have a great day,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Alex —

      This image is a little blurry so I can’t tell for sure; I do see doubling in the date (possibly) and it appears to be either machine doubling or was struck from a late-stage die and is worth very little, if anything, over face value.

      Thank you for your question and photos!
      Josh

      Reply
  4. Hi, Alex —

    I’m afraid this does not appear to be a doubled die and is worth face value.

    Keep looking, man!
    Josh

    Reply
  5. I have all 50 states of year 2000 gold dollars that are mint condition all individually wrapped how much u think the whole set goes for?

    Reply
    • Hi, Ryan —

      I’m not sure what 50 States golden dollars you’re referring to. Perhaps this is a private-mint issue or alteration to the golden dollars? Would you please submit a photo of these coins or the rolls so I can further assist?

      Thank you so much,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Alex —

      A regular 1944 bronze cent would not stick to a magnet, so I’m afraid this is actually a common 1944 cent, and it’s worn — it would be worth 3 to 5 cents.

      Now, if you have a 1943 cent that doesn’t stick to a magnet, you may have something worth quite a nice chunk of change!

      Keep on looking, Alex!
      -Josh

      Reply
  6. Hi, Alex —

    We’d need to weigh this to know whether or not it was struck on a 40% silver planchet. If it is a 40% silver off-metal error (which is possible for a 1974 quarter, as that was the first year 40% silver Bicentennial quarters were test-struck) the coin would weigh about 5.75 grams.

    Good luck!
    Josh

    Reply
  7. Hi Josh!

    To tell you that your wide knowledge motivated me to research all my coins and the new ones i got on the run these past years. As they are quite a few coins would like to start with the best coins “i think” that they worth something, please let me know which of them you want me to upload pics… thanks a lot for your kind help! All coins where checked with a 10X magnifier glass (jewelry one).

    – US$1 Sacagawea 2000-D and 2001- P silver clad planchet. S.B.A i think (not golden, quarter alike). Weight around 7 grs. (scale didnt have decimal, will have to buy a new one),
    – US$1 Sacagawea 2010-P “great law of peace”, weight around 8 grs. Interesting thing is that is a “wood grain dolar”, well in my novice opinion. It has mixed alloys. Vertical yellow/green stripes.
    – US$1 Franklin Peace, 2010-P brown color… dunno about this one,..
    – Then, 1982 and 1980 US$1 cent wood grain and tiger wood grain (late years not that common as i read).

    This one called my attention:
    – US$1 Licoln cent 1995 no date. It has huge Double Die in both sides, Date, lettering, monument,etc. Saw common errors but none as brutal as this one. And also has rainbow tonin.

    – Other funny coin is a US$1 wheat cent 1956 that i call “smiling Lincoln” somehow (by woreness) his mouth is laughing. HIs lips are more wide than normal. Heheheh.. maybe is just a coincidence but its very cool.
    – 1 US$ cent, 1969 D, read they are scarce?
    – Other huge Double Die i found was on 1 US$ cent 1989, with doubling in date, RUS, UNI and E CE.
    – A 2001 cent one side brown / other red (one is shiny other mate dark).
    – Other 1990 D cent with doubling on AMERICA y CENT, in obverse it has a crossed line over the bust.
    – And the last one, 1984 that has a dot between lettering, like this “IN GOD . WE TRUST” blue purple tonin.

    Hope its not too long heheh but are very cool findings.. let me know for the pictures on the coins u like the most.

    Thank you!

    Rodrigo

    Reply
  8. I would like to know what the possible value of Sacagawea dollars are that have no date printed on the coin at all. Neither the front or back. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you Rio for that information. Is there a certain year these coins were produced? The date seems to be worn off and is not readable. Thank you again for your help. I am a novice in this situation.

      Reply
    • Hi Nehla, over a billion 2000-date Sacagawea dollars were minted. Sorry to say, any of them found in change are only worth face value.

      Reply
  9. Another reason that the coin failed to circulate is that the US, unlike most other major countries, doesn’t have an effectively-circulating $2 bill or coin. Without ready access to $2 bills/coins, consumers would be forced to receive up to 4 dollar coins in change. I.e. the dreaded “pockets full of dollar coins” scenario often cited by naysayers would be reality.

    If the Treasury were to order production of a modernized $2 bill at the same time the $1 bill was withdrawn, it would be rare to ever receive more than a single coin in change. This has been my experience during visits to other countries where a $2 denomination (or its equivalent) is a common part of their currency.

    In addition people who are wedded to their “foldin’ money” would still have their bills, while at the same time the BEP could cut almost 25% of its current production – a win for us taxpayers.

    Reply

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