Question: I was reading something the other day about Sacagawea dollars being put in General Mills cereal boxes in 2000 as publicity for the new coins. It’s a fascinating story and it made me wonder if there have been any earlier promotions of coins inserted in merchandise?
Answer: In the late 1850s, a patent medicine company advertised that occasional packages would contain a surprise gold dollar. Q. David Bowers has theorized that in 1874 a confection known as Sage’s Candy included coins (quarters, half dollars and trade dollars, all dated 1874 and each counterstamped SAGE’S / CANDY / COIN), either in the packages or as some sort of a premium or promotion. In the mid 1950s, General Mills packages of Wheaties contained foreign coins. There are probably other examples as well.
We note that in our upcoming Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectible Baltimore Expo in March, we will be offering an example of the “Cheerios” variety Sacagawea dollar (and its accompanying Lincoln cent), the original Certificate of Authenticity packaging. Be sure to check it out at StacksBowers.com when our entire Baltimore auction is posted.