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NNP Blog

May 16 2024

Eric Brothers on the Sacajawea Dollar

The journal of the Museum of American Finance, Financial History often contains articles of numismatic interest. The recent spring 2024 issue includes a contribution from Eric Brothers on the Sacajawea dollar, first issued by the U.S. Mint in 2000. This coin attracts little attention in the U.S. but is widely circulated in Ecuador, as Brothers explains. This writer can attest to receiving in change a well-worn “golden dollar” during a recent trip to that country.

Brothers covers the legislative history of the coin and the development of the coin design. The “golden” description created confusion among the public, which in some cases truly believed their examples contained gold, while the Cheerios and Walmart promotions created their own controversies.

The Ecaudorian economic crisis in 1998-1999 led to their adoption of the U.S. dollar in 2000, and the overflowing stock of Sacajawea coins in the U.S. Treasury vaults created a natural opportunity for the coins in circulate. Today they are widely used in the “country of four worlds.” As for the U.S., their attitude is best summed up by Marge Simpson, who being asked “What is that? A quarter? A Chuck E. Cheese token?” explained “No! It's a Sacajawea dollar. You can trade it in at the bank for a real dollar!”

Link to Financial History on Newman Portal:
Link to Simpson’s clip on the Sacajawea dollar, Season 15, Episode 11 (February 8, 2004):
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