As part of an effort in 1999 to promote the new Sacagawea dollars, General Mills scattered 5,500 specially packaged, 2000-dated Sacagawea dollars among 10 million boxes of Cheerios cereal. Five years later, it was discovered that the so-called "Cheerios" dollars were actually from a different reverse die type. Some experts consider these pattern coins; others have called them "Reverse of 1999."
The Reverse of 1999 displays an enhanced tail feather design compared to 2000-dated Sacagawea Dollars. PCGS has labeled them "Cheerios FS-401," referring to the source and the reference number from the Fivaz-Stanton "Cherrypickers" guide. Because of the perceived rarity of the Reverse of 1999 and the assumption that all "Cheerios" dollars bore the Reverse of 1999, the demand for these coins has increased and the coins themselves have become quite valuable.
However, PCGS experts recently opened a sealed Cheerios package only to find out that the dollar contained in the package was of a normal, Reverse of 2000 die type. The package appeared to be authentic and showed no evidence of tampering. A similar experience has been reported by another grading service. Thus, one may no longer assume that all the dollars in the Cheerios packages are of the rare, Reverse of 1999.
Because the "Cheerios" dollars are packaged obverse up, the reverse cannot be seen. An obverse die marker has been identified on some "Cheerios" dollars and may assist in identifying Reverse of 1999 dollars in sealed packages. The die marker consists of die polish extending into the field from Sacagawea’s wrap immediately below and to the left of the mintmark. Whether this die marker is diagnostic of the Reverse of 1999 Sacagawea Dollars remains to be seen.
PCGS only applies the "Cheerios" designation to Sacagawea dollars with the Reverse of 1999. PCGS bears no responsibility for the die type of dollars submitted in unopened Cheerios packages, nor is PCGS obligated to designate any dollar as a "Cheerios" dollar simply because it came out of a sealed Cheerios package.
For additional information about submitting your coins to the Professional Coin Grading Service, please contact a Customer Service Representative at (800) 447-8848 or visit the PCGS website at www.pcgs.com. Contact the PCGS Bulk Department at (949) 567-1216.
PCGS guidance is based on the best information available at the time the guidance is developed. PCGS, at its discretion, may adjust guidance as new information becomes available.