Sacajawea Dollar Coin is Released

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NBC Today Show
Matt Lauer
Event Date:
1804 - 1806
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Resource Type:
Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Philip Diehl, director of the U.S. Mint, discusses the release of the Sacajawea dollar coin. Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian who acted as guide to Lewis and Clark.



"Sacajawea Dollar Coin is Released." Matt Lauer, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 18 Jan. 2000. NBC Learn. Web. 11 January 2020.


Lauer, M. (Reporter). (2000, January 18). Sacajawea Dollar Coin is Released. [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from


"Sacajawea Dollar Coin is Released" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 01/18/2000. Accessed Sat Jan 11 2020 from NBC Learn:


Sacajewea Dollar Coin is Released

MATT LAUER, co-host:

In a couple of weeks, you may find some gold in your pockets. A new golden dollar is being shipped to the Federal Reserve today and will take the place of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Philip Diehl, director of the U.S. Mint, is here to tell us about the new change in the dollar. Philip, great to see you. Nice to have you here.

Mr. PHILIP DIEHL (Director of the U.S. Mint): Thank you, Matt.

LAUER: Why do we need this? The Susan B. Anthony dollar, let's be honest, was a flop.

Mr. DIEHL: Yes.

LAUER: People didn't like it.

Mr. DIEHL: That's right.

LAUER: So why spend the money to design and mint a new one?

Mr. DIEHL: Well, even the Susan B. Anthony, with all of its flaws, became more popular in the vending industry here in the last five years. And we finally exhausted the supply of Susan B.'s over 20 years. And it was time to fix what was wrong with the Susan B. Anthony, so it wouldn't be confused with the quarter.

LAUER: All right, so before we get to the new one, let's talk about what was wrong with the Susan B. Anthony. First, people just didn't like the design of it.

Mr. DIEHL: That's correct.

LAUER: And also it--it reminded them too much of the quarter, and they got it confused a lot.

Mr. DIEHL: That's exactly right.

LAUER: So on this new one you've taken steps to avoid that.

Mr. DIEHL: That's right.

LAUER: Let's take a look at this. And first of all, the first thing you notice about it is the color. It looks like 14 karat gold, but there's no gold in here.

Mr. DIEHL: That's right. Manganese brass, that's what gives it its


LAUER: And why did you decide on making it gold?

Mr. DIEHL: Well, gold is important because it differentiates it from the quarter. It's very easy to spot the difference. Also gold gives the signal that it's higher value. And then we also included some tactile features, a wide edge and a smooth edge like the nickel.

LAUER: That's right. If you think about it, the edge of a quarter has ridges on it. So if you're reaching in your pocket, you can feel it right off the bat.

Mr. DIEHL: That's correct.

LAUER: This has the nickel feel, but also we should mention the coin is


Mr. DIEHL: That's right.

LAUER: ...than the quarter. We compared that a second ago and here's a good comparison. Talk about the images you'll find on this new dollar.

Mr. DIEHL: This is Sacajawea and her infant son Jean-Baptiste. Sacajawea was the young Shoshone woman who assisted Lewis and Clark in the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase almost 200 years ago, and she was chosen by a citizen's advisory committee for this honor to be on the coin.

LAUER: Why do you think she was chosen? I mean, what were some of the other possibilities?

Mr. DIEHL: Well, there were a number of other possibilities including Eleanor Roose--Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman. But I think Sacajawea was chosen because her story is such a compelling American story. And the fact that Stephen Ambrose's book "Undaunted Courage" was so popular two years ago, I think it really brought her back to memory.

LAUER: Isn't this the first time also that we've seen kind of a three-quarter version of someone's face on a coin, not just a profile?

Mr. DIEHL: Yes, that's right. This coin design is very different from any other 20th century coin design. It is a very warm design. It's not that formal profile that we've become accustomed to.

LAUER: And on the flip side, there is a soaring bald eagle. When are we going to start to see these on the street?

Mr. DIEHL: Well, they'll start being on the street on January 30th, and then more generally in March and in April.

LAUER: Philip Diehl, thanks very much, and thanks for the loot, we appreciate it.

Mr. DIEHL: Thank you.