THE SACAGAWEA "CHEERIOS DOLLARS"
"PATTERN" REVERSE (REVERSE OF 1999)
AND
"NON-PATTERN" REVERSE (REVERSE OF 2000)


In February 2005, a full five years after its release, Sacagawea Dollar patterns have been discovered in the hands of lucky collectors. This amazing discovery has been found in what was formerly known as Cheerios Dollars. The term "amazing discovery" may be an understatement. Even the people at NGC state: "This is unquestionably one of the most intriguing new finds in the annals of modern coinage. The fact that they are just now being recognized, five years after their release, is surprising to many experts."


TAIL FEATHERS
PATTERN REVERSE
(REVERSE OF 1999)
(Photo courtesy of NGC)


TAIL FEATHERS
REGULAR ISSUE REVERSE
(REVERSE OF 2000)
(Photo courtesy of NGC)

The wing and tail feathers on the Pattern Dollars are more defined than on the coins released into circulation. The tail feathers exhibit detailed veins as well as a raised central shaft on the center feather. On the coins struck for circulation, the details on the feathers have been smoothed down and the shaft on the central feather is incused. In order to distinguish between the two types, William (Bill) T. Gibbs coined the term "Reverse of 1999" for the Pattern/Cheerios Dollars and the term "Reverse of 2000" for the regular issue dollars. Click HERE to see a side-by-side comparison of the entire reverses of the "Reverse of 1999" and the "Reverse of 2000" pieces (Photo courtesy of NGC).

The reason for the change on the coins struck for circulation is explained by reverse designer Tom Rogers in an interview he had with Tom DeLorey on June 3, 2005. Tom DeLorey writes: "He (Rogers) said that the design change in the tail feathers was made very late in the design process, probably in late October, though he would have to check his notebook to be sure. Business strike production began Nov. 18th or 19th. The reason for the change was to make the tail feathers appear lighter in color, compared to the body of the eagle. An eagle's tail feathers are white. He said the original trial strikes made them look too brown. He smoothed down the lines that stick out at a 45 degree angle from the veins, and then somebody told him to replace the raised vein in the middle feather with a recessed one so it wouldn't stand out by itself."

The total number of these coins that were struck is unknown. However, the number of these coins that can potentially be in collector's hands is 5,500. That is the number of "Cheerios Dollars" released in cereal boxes. Undoubtedly, many of the "Cheerios Dollars" were opened and spent, or thrown in a drawer and forgotten about, making them VERY hard to come by.

These pieces were listed for the first time in the 60th Edition (2007) of A Guide Book of United States Coins (aka "The Redbook") by R. S. Yeoman. They are also listed in the Cherrypickers' Guide To Rare Die Varieties Of United States Coins, Fourth Edition Volume II, by Bill Fivaz & J. T. Stanton, where they are described as "Enhanced Reverse Die" and numbered FS-C1-2000P-901.


OBVERSE DIE MARKER


2000-P "REVERSE OF 1999" SHOWING AREA OF DIE POLISH MARKS
(Photo Courtesy of
Jeremy Katz/JKCoinPhotography.com)

When purchasing a "Cheerios Dollar" still in its original holder, it would prudent to remember that not all "Cheerios Dollars" are the "Reverse of 1999" pattern. It would also be possible for an unscrupulous person to place a regular Sacagawea Dollar in a Cheerios package so be sure to check the package for signs of tampering. Since the reverse of the Dollar is not visible when still in an original Cheerios package, it would be helpful to have a die marker on the obverse that would identify a "Reverse of 1999".

Tom DeLorey has identified such a marker. He noticed it while examining three of the coins - two in NGC slabs and one still in the original Cheerios holder. Tom says, "Having the two slabbed pieces side by side, I noticed some die polish coming out into the field from her coat immediately below the P mint mark! Now that we knew what to look for, we could see it on the one still in the original plastic as well. It is faint, but there. This should be usable as a diagnostic to determine that other pieces still in the original plastic are from the pattern die pair!"

As Tom said, "it is faint", but it can be seen with a 5X glass if you tilt the coin just right under good lighting. To date, this marker has been seen on all "Reverse of 1999" Sacagawea Dollars examined. This obverse die marker can be a helpful tool in determining if a Cheerios Dollar that is still in the original package is the "Reverse of 1999" or not, however, NOTHING takes the place of seeing the reverse so you can be 100% certain that you're getting the coin you expect.


HERE'S HOW THIS DISCOVERY CAME ABOUT
A FULL FIVE YEARS AFTER ITS RELEASE

In the Fall of 1999, noted numismatist Tom DeLorey had an opportunity to examine test strikings of the Sacagawea dollar at a press conference held in Chicago on October 20, 1999. He made a mental note of the coins detail, paying particular attention to the details of the Eagle's tail feathers on the reverse. Read his account of the story HERE. It should be noted at this point that Tom was admittedly incorrectly calling the coins he saw in Chicago "12 Tail Feathers", thinking that the coins struck for circulation had been changed to exhibit "13 Tail Feathers". However, in his recent (Spring 2005) discussions with reverse designer Tom Rogers, it is now understood that the Eagle has always exhibited 12 tail feathers and it's their appearance that has been altered.

When the Sacagawea Dollar was released for circulation in January 2000, Tom immediately noticed that the detail of the Eagle's tail feathers had been modified. Checking all of the other specially released Sacagawea Dollars and finding nothing, Tom theorized that the Cheerios Dollars could possibly be the Sacagawea Dollar pattern that he had seen earlier. Tom had a hunch that since General Mills had to have the coins in their hands in the Fall of 1999 in order to have them placed in holders, put in cereal boxes, and distributed to grocers by early 2000, they may just be the elusive pattern. The problem was that the Cheerios Dollars were in a holder that prevented the reverse from being seen without removing the coin. Although rarely offered for sale, Cheerios Dollars were selling in the range of $125-$175 when offered, and removing one from its holder would destroy the value if it turned out to be a common struck-for-circulation coin.


A CHEERIOS DOLLAR AND CENT
IN THEIR ORIGINAL HOLDER

The only hope of checking the reverse of a Cheerios Dollar, without destroying its value, was to find one that had been placed into a third party grading service's holder. After Tom contacted me and told me about his hunch, I joined the search. In early 2005 I came in contact with collector Pat Braddick. He had one that had been placed in an ANACS holder. Immediately upon checking his coin, Pat knew it was different. Pat took his coin to NGC at the Long Beach (California) Coin Show in February 2005. NGC joined forces with Tom DeLorey to do exhaustive research on the piece and determined that this piece is indeed the Sacagawea Dollar pattern that Tom had seen in October 1999.

Thanks to Tom's keen eye and persistent searching, this coin has become a major collectible in numismatics. Without Tom, it would've been a long time, if ever, before it would have been discovered.


PAT BRADDICK'S CHEERIOS DOLLAR
IN AN
ANACS HOLDER
(Photo courtesy of Pat Braddick)


PAT BRADDICK'S DOLLAR IN AN NGC
HOLDER WITH ITS NEW "PATTERN $1" AND
"DISCOVERY SPECIMEN" DESIGNATION
(Photo courtesy of NGC)



PHOTO BY MARK GOODMAN

The "Discovery Specimen" sold on March 9, 2007 for a cool $9,000 to a North East Collector. Included in the sale was an NGC Photo Proof made specifically for this coin and newspaper articles written at the time of the discovery.



CHEERIOS CENT AND DOLLAR IN AN NGC MULTI-COIN HOLDER


Cheerios Dollar in a PCGS holder.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HANY ABDELSAYED


PRICES REALIZED OF KNOWN SALES/AUCTIONS


If you were lucky enough to find a "Cheerios" Dollar in a box of Cheerios cereal when they were first released in January 2000, it's a pretty sure bet that you had no idea of how valuable they would eventually become. In fact, many were probably ripped from their package and spent. In the five years before the discovery of the variety now known as "Reverse of 1999", very few were offered for sale publicly. Since so few were offered for sale, a set price was never established. When one did appear, they sold in the wide price range of $50 to $175, with the majority of pieces selling in the $125 to $135 range. When the variety was first reported in June 2005, prices immediately shot up. Overnight they began selling in the $2500 to $6000 range, with most selling between $3500 and $4500. Prices skyrocketed in the Spring of 2007, due in part to very few pieces being found since the discovery two years earlier. It all started with the sale of the "Discovery Specimen" on March 9, 2007 for $9,000. Below are the prices realized of the pieces sold since that fateful sale of the "Discovery Specimen".


PRICE REALIZED


DATE SOLD


GRADE/
CERTIFICATE #


AUCTION


ADDITIONAL INFO

$34,500.00*

8/01/08


PCGS MS68
147231.68/11901856

Heritage Auction

 

$29,900.00*

5/30/08


PCGS MS68
147231.68/11901855

Heritage Auction

 

$23,000.00*

3/06/08


PCGS MS68
147231.68/11941428

Heritage Auction

 

$20,000.00

12/24/08


PCGS MS68
147231.68/13530070


eBay

 


$12,500.00


12/2/07


ICG MS67


Teletrade

 

$11,500.00*

2/15/08


PCGS MS67
147231.67/11965349

Heritage Auction

 

$11,500.00*

8/10/07


PCGS MS67
147321.67/13887409

Heritage Auction

 


$11,000.00


8/17/07


ANACS MS68


eBay

 


$10,925.00*

$9,200.00*1


8/01/08

10/24/08


PCGS MS67
147231.67/11514705


Heritage Auction

Heritage Auction

 


$10,350.00*

$5462.50*1


8/01/08

10/24/08


PCGS MS67
147231.67/12133964


Heritage Auction

Heritage Auction

 

$9,999.99

10/15/07


PCGS MS66
147231.66/13179862

eBay

 

$9,000.00

3/9/07


NGC MS66
2117946-001

eBay ("Buy It Now")

"Discovery Specimen"

$8,194.90*

9/19/08


PCGS MS67
147231.67/11445946

Heritage Auction

 

$7,762.50*

4/30/09


PCGS MS68
147231.68/14111890

Heritage Auction

 

$5,175.00*

4/30/09


PCGS MS66
147231.66/14111891

Heritage Auction

 

$4,500.00

5/19/08


NGC MS63
2525076-001

eBay

 

* Includes 15% buyers fee.
1 Two or more listings in the same row indicates multiple sales of the same coin.


 

THE NON-PATTERN REVERSE
REVERSE OF 2000


 


NON-PATTERN CHEERIOS DOLLAR


ENLARGED REVERSE PHOTO
CLEARLY SHOWING LACK OF
DETAIL IN THE TAIL FEATHERS


NON-PATTERN CHEERIOS DOLLAR


A previously known, but unacknowledged, Cheerios Dollar without the "pattern" reverse was given more credibility when a second one was certified by NGC in April 2008. The first piece, in a PCI holder (below), was known as early as 2005. However, due to the problems that PCI was having, no one took it seriously at the time. Fast forward to April 2008 when a collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, owned not one, but two Cheerios Dollars in their original Cheerios packaging. The owner states, "I got one of the two coins out of a box of Cheerios and bought the other one at a flea market back in 2001-2002 and they have been sitting in my dresser drawer ever since until I found out what they might be worth." Deciding to capitalize on them, he sent both to NGC for authentication and grading. Upon their return he was surprised to find that one was not labeled as a "Pattern" as the other one was. Checking the reverse he found that it did in fact not exhibit the detailed tail feathers as the "pattern" piece did. Concerned if a "non-pattern" Cheerios Dollar was possible or was previously known to exist, the collector contacted this web site. We in turn contacted accomplished numismatist Tom DeLorey, who was instrumental in the original discovery of the Cheerios "Pattern" Dollar. Being as surprised as we were, Mr. DeLorey contacted NGC to verify the piece. In response NGC said, "The report that you received is entirely factual. NGC did receive a Cheerios dollar in original packaging and the coin was not the pattern reverse. This was confirmed by Rick Montgomery and Dave Camire. Dave Camire, in fact, opened the packaging."

PCI NON-PATTERN CHEERIOS DOLLAR
PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE SILVER

These coins received even more credence when PCGS announced on May 16, 2008 that they too had opened an original, untampered Cheerios package that contained a "non-pattern" Cheerios Dollar. PCGS also reported that they only apply "the 'Cheerios' designation to Sacagawea Dollars with the Reverse of 1999" and that they are not "obligated to designate any Dollar as a 'Cheerios' Dollar simply because it came out of a sealed Cheerios package".

In early June 2008 Tom DeLorey had the opportunity to examine one of the "non-pattern" Cheerios Dollars first hand. About the coin he examined he reports, "The NGC 'Cheerios' dollar I examined was struck from a well-worn pair of regular production dies that had struck many, many thousands of coins before this one. There is absolutely no suggestion that it is from any sort of special production run executed to provide coins specifically for General Mills. It looks like any other business strike released in calendar year 2000."

WOW!!! The Sacagawea Dollar series never ceases to amaze. Years after their release, new discoveries keep popping up. How could this one have happen? Mr. DeLorey has come up with a possible scenario. Keep in mind that this scenario is pure speculation. We'll probably never know for sure how a "non-pattern" coin was placed in a Cheerios package. Mr. DeLorey writes: "Possible scenario: the Mint strikes approximately 5,500 dollars from the pattern dies and send them to General Mills. They package them, and find that some coins were damaged or otherwise spoiled during packaging. Let's guess and say they have 5,400 good ones. They've got enough ready to start stuffing cereal boxes, but because they are obligated to award 5,500 coins (it says so right there on 10 million pre-printed boxes) they have to ask the Mint for a hundred (or whatever) more. This second shipment is filled with coins from the new dies being used to mass produce coins for the Wal-Mart rollout. Remember, nobody outside the engraving department knows that a change was made, and the engraving department did not know that 5,500 coins had been sent out early before the change (per my conversation with Tom Rogers). The extra coins get packaged and distributed."

Another thought. Not many of the Cheerios Dollars are in numismatist's hands. That number is around 1% to 2% of total number placed in Cheerios boxes. It is generally accepted that a large portion of the "unfound" pieces were either ripped from their package and spent, or are lying around in a dresser drawer somewhere totally forgotten about. If any of the "non-pattern" pieces were taken from the Cheerios package and spent, they are now totally lost to the numismatic community since they are indistinguishable from a normal Sacagawea Dollar.



OTHER ARTICLES

FROM NGC'S WEBSITE: "On Monday, June 20, 2005, NGC certified a pattern 2000-P Sacagawea Dollar struck from dies made with experimental hubs. While similar to the final design, the reverse’s eagle device shows considerably greater detail than that seen on circulation and proof issues struck from the adopted dies and is very easy to identify. The story of this coin is emerging as one of the most fascinating numismatic discoveries to come to light in some time, as this coin can be distinguished from virtually every other pattern coin of the twentieth century in an important way – a relatively large number of 5,500 were produced and then dispersed through non-numismatic channels."

Complete Article


From ABOUT.COM:COINS: PCGS had an interesting article in their eCollector newsletter yesterday regarding the submission of a Cheerios Dollar that turned out to be struck from normal dies, rather than struck from the pattern dies that experts once thought all of the Cheerios Dollars were struck from.

Complete Article


 

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