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Business Marketing with Coins and Currency

The "Cheerios dollar" that was placed in boxes of Cheerios cereal when the Sacagawea dollar debuted in 2000 is distinguishable by enhanced details on the eagle's tail feathers on the reverse. (Images courtesy

The "Cheerios dollar" that was placed in boxes of Cheerios cereal when the Sacagawea dollar debuted in 2000 is distinguishable by enhanced details on the eagle's tail feathers on the reverse. (Images courtesy

Just as the receipt of cash is desirable, so too is getting coins and currency. There are a variety of ways that coins and currency have been used by companies as marketing tactics.

Perhaps the one familiar to more people than others occurred with the debut of the Sacagawea dollar in 2000. General Mills acquired 5,500 of these new coins to randomly insert them among 10 million boxes of Cheerios cereal. It turned out that these coins were struck from a different set of master dies than were used to strike the coins put into circulation. One of the reverse dies used to strike “Cheerios dollars” has enhanced details in the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse of the coin, different than the dies used to strike other coins. This variety is quite valuable today.

Cereal companies have long inserted various bonuses into their packages to stimulate sales. One company even inserted packets of uncirculated foreign currency in boxes, where the colorful notes included had been inflated to such an extent as to be worthless as spending money.

You may have attended marketing presentations where attendees had the opportunity to win a drawing for a gold or silver coin.

Local and state coin clubs often sell raffle tickets in conjunction with their shows where the prizes are typically coins and currency. Exhibitors at coin shows compete for prizes that are usually coins or medals.

The company where I work has long helped companies use coins for marketing purposes, either as employee incentives or as marketing bonuses. The first instance was when a Wall Street brokerage firm purchased gold South Africa Krugerrands during the 1979-1980 bullion boom to give to employees as bonuses.

For years, a moderate-size Midwest factory paid annual longevity bonuses. After working for a full year, those employees were given a U.S. silver Eagle dollar. Upon completion of five years at the company, employees received a U.S. $5 1/10-ounce gold American Eagle. After 10 years, they were given a U.S. $10 1/4-ounce gold American Eagle. Occasionally, they awarded a U.S. $25 half-ounce gold American Eagle when an employee reached 25 years of longevity.

Among other employee incentive programs where we supplied coins – one large medical practice in our area for a few years gave out as part of annual bonuses Canadian 1-ounce gold Maple Leafs to the physicians and U.S. silver Eagle dollars to the other staff. A statewide insurance company for several years ran sales campaigns where the most productive sales people received fractional-size U.S. gold American Eagles and U.S. silver Eagle dollars.

As for customer giveaways, when the U.S. silver Eagle dollars debuted in 1986, a national candy company purchased 5,000 of them from my company for prizes in a sales promotion. The results must have been satisfying to the company as they bought another 5,000 silver Eagle dollars in 1988 to repeat the promotion.

A Honda motorcycle dealership in our area ran a campaign where customers who purchased a new Honda Gold Wing motorcycle received a bonus of a 1/10-ounce gold American Eagle.

A local radio station switches its format at Thanksgiving to exclusively play Christmas music for the holiday season. Around Dec. 15 each year it gives away promotional gifts to lucky listeners, where some of the awards are Christmas-themed 1-ounce silver rounds and rectangles.

When my company moved to larger premises in our shopping center at the beginning of 2013, one of the promotional contests we ran to encourage visitors was to fill a jar with coins, including some U.S. and foreign silver coins and a Mexican gold 2-pesos. The contestant who came closest to guessing the quantity of coins in the jar won that jar and coins it contained. There were so many entries for this promotion that there was a tie where one entry was one coin too low and the other was one coin high, which we resolved by a random drawing.

There are a number of ways that coins and currency can be a perfect fit for business marketing purposes. All it takes is a little creativity.

Patrick A. Heller was honored as a 2019 FUN Numismatic Ambassador. He is also the recipient of the American Numismatic Association 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award, 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award and 2008 Presidential Award. Over the years, he has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild (including twice in 2020), Professional Numismatists Guild, Industry Council for Tangible Assets and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio archives posted at