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Sacagawea Saga

Many banks wonder how the golden dollar the U.S. Mint introduced a year and a half ago is faring: are consumers using them or simply collecting them? The shiny gold coin, which is made of layers of manganese brass and copper with a depiction of Native American Sacagawea, the interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark, certainly lends itself to collection. However, the U.S. Mint is working hard to assure its circulation.

Initially, the coins were sent to Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores, which didn't make community bankers too happy: customers could get the coin from their local discount store, but not their bankers. But the mint has worked with the banking and other industries targeted for distributing the coins such as retailers, restaurants, transportation and the entertainment industry.

Most recently, the mint partnered with several sports teams to get the coin circulated at games. In August, baseball affiliate teams of the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced they will feature the coins prominently in displays, advertisements, and over the public address system. Golden dollars also will be dispensed via ticket offices and souvenir and concession stands.

In July, the U.S. Mint announced a commitment by Paramount's Kings Dominion in Richmond to dispense golden dollars at ticket offices and parking lot toll booths, the first amusement park to agree to partner with the mint. The dollars will be usable in all vending machines at the amusement park and will even get their own game - The Golden Dollar Coin Toss.

So will the coin go the way of the Susan B. Anthony? U.S. Mint statistics indicate that probably won't happen: It took 21 years to circulate 920 million Susan B. Anthony dollars, but more than 1.2 billion golden dollars have been produced so far and 800 million are in circulation, the mint says.

Copyright © 2001 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 11, No. 9, 9/01

First published on 09/01/2001

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