The Sacagawea dollar was a big deal for a while in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, but this coin is arguably not as common as it used to be. Why not? The Sacagawea dollar coin was tentatively supposed to overtake the use of the paper dollar bill. In fact, Sacagawea dollars first came about as the demand for dollar coins rose during the mid-1990s, and by the end of the 20th century there was a lot of hype over the coin and excitement as to their new appearance in American currency. At the turn of the century, dollar coins like the 2000 D Native American Sacagawea BU Dollar became very popular and were greatly appreciated by all who bought them.
It all started in 1997, when the United States $1 Coin Act authorized the production of a new dollar coin to come into being for the first time in ages. Fast forward two years, and by the end of 1999 most the American public became aware of the highly publicized image of Sacagawea carrying her son, which is the image that appears on the obverse of the coin. The U.S. Mint marketed this coin more so than almost any others in history, all because the overall goal and objective was to have the coin eventually overtake the paper dollar bill.
But that’s not what happened now is it? In fact, nowadays it’s not that common to find a Sacagawea dollar in pocket change, and it’s even not that common to find it in a store's cash till. How did this come about?
What Happened to the Sacagawea Dollar?
Most people do not use the Sacagawea coins in day to day transactions. They were being used for a while, but the trend simply did not take like the U.S. Mint desired that it would. The truth is that the golden dollar was supposed to be a sort of a “revolutionary” coin that would prompt Americans to use a dollar coin instead of a dollar paper bill.
Lots of different aspects about the coin stunted and eventually completely stopped the spread of this idea that Americans could use a dollar coin over a dollar bill. Listed below are the most predominate ones:
- The dollar bill was still being made, and the U.S. Mint not only did not stop making dollar bills, but they didn’t even slow down in the production of paper currency for the U.S. dollar. They were still an option, and they were still very, very easy to get.
- Because Americans could literally pick and choose between the dollar coin and the dollar bill, most of us went with the bill. We are creatures of habit for the most part, and our tendency is to go with something we know over something we don’t know, especially on the subject of money.
- The dollar coin is a heavy piece of metal. A few, folded dollar bills don’t make a big dent in a person’s pocket, but a bunch of dollar coins definitely do. These coins stand out and bulge up in pockets, and a lot of people did not like the weight or the mass that resulted.
- Not a huge reason, but a reason nonetheless, is that current, to date, coin operated machines can’t accept dollar coins. If the dollar coin was the only option to pay and dollar bills did not exist, customers would have to use smaller change or other denominations of bills to make their purchases, which would get very tricky, very fast.
- In stores and businesses, a lot of cash tills did not have places dollar coins to go, making it hard for businesses to deal with the coins.
If it had just been one of the above problems, it probably could have been overcome. But because it was many different problems, the culmination is what shot down the transition over from paper dollar bills to dollar coins. While still an excellent collectible item, the coin will probably continue to diminish in day to day society.