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In 2000, a replacement coin for the much-maligned Susan B. Anthony Dollar was sought. The SBA Dollar was successfully accepted by vending machines, but its appearance and size made it difficult to distinguish from the Washington Quarter for the average American.
To overcome the SBA debacle, the United States $1 Coinage Act of 1997 mandated a change in composition and in the edge. The Dollar Coin Advisory Committee recommended the Sacagawea Dollar to replace the SBA.
The obverse was to depict a representation of Sacagawea and the reverse was to depict an eagle in flight. The Commission chose an obverse design of Sacagawea with her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau on her back. They also chose a depiction of a soaring eagle in flight for the reverse.
Glenna Goodacre’s obverse depicts Sacagawea facing right, baby on her back, the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was behind her head, the current date in front of her and the motto “LIBERTY” above her head. Thomas Rogers’ reverse design had an eagle soaring to the left, the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” above the eagle’s head. Seventeen five-pointed stars surround the coin with the denomination “ONE DOLLAR” below and the “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surmounting the eagle.
To give the color a different color than her predecessor, the new coin was comprised of manganese brass over a pure copper core. That gave the coin a distinctive golden color in order to distinguish it easily from the current quarter.
The US Mint felt confident that the public would embrace these coins after the Mint marketed them on television, radio and in print. They entered in agreements with Walmart to use these coins as change for their customers as well as an agreement with Cheerios to include a special version in every 2,000th box of Cheerios. These coins were later found to have veined tail feathers that were only on this special issue, of which only 115 have been authenticated.
However, the Sacagawea dollar did not prove popular with the public, and after 2001, in which 136,000,000 coins were struck, the mintages dropped severely each and every year until the final striking in 2008 when less than 6 million coins were struck.
An interesting side note is that in 2000 an error coin having a George Washington State Quarter obverse with a Sacagawea soaring eagle reverse was discovered. Eventually eleven of these “double denomination” mule coins were located and authenticated.