PCGS reported on their website that they paid out a $10,000 reward to Andrew Moores of Lakewood, Colorado for submitting the first known authentic Sacagawea dollar with edge lettering on it. The Sacagawea dollar normally has a plain edge, despite the coin being minted on the same planchets as the Presidential Dollars, which do have edge lettering. Moores said he had the coin for at least two weeks before he realized it was different from the others.
The Mystery of the Sacagawea Coin
Moores said he received the 2007-D coin in circulation, which is interesting as the U.S. Mint wasn't striking any Sacagawea dollars for general circulation in 2007. The closest you can get to business strike Sacs is by purchasing them from the Mint at a significant markup in bags or rolls. This lends itself to speculation: Did the Denver Mint place 2007 Sacs in circulation, or did someone spend the coins from a Mint-sold bag or roll? Alternatively, does Moores work at the Denver Mint or have a friend who does? Finally, assuming the lettered edge Sacagawea did find its way out of the Mint in an expected manner, such as through a bag or roll set, does that suggest we should search our own 2007 Sac bags and rolls to try to find more errors?
Ebay Once Someone Breaks the Ice
There is a curious phenomenon that occurs on eBay once someone breaks the ice with a legitimate rare and valuable error type.
Several more emerge and most of them turn out to be fake or altered coins, especially the numerous "faceless dollars" that turn up on eBay, such as those following the discovery of the first blank Presidential Dollar with edge lettering. That error coin was also found in Colorado's Fort Collins, which is interesting as the finders of both of these extraordinary errors live within commuting distance of the Denver Mint.
In fact, Fort Collins is less than an hour's drive, and Lakewood, where Moores live, is less than 8 miles away. An investigative mind may wonder if the finders of the "faceless dollar" (for which PCGS paid out a generous reward) and the edge-lettered Sac have any friends or relatives in common between them that work at the Mint.
Be Skeptical of Fake Sacagaweas
Keep in mind that fake lettered-edge Sacagaweas are likely to turn up on eBay when these stories are released. Part of why they turn up is because creating very convincing fake edge lettering is not challenging for those with the proper tools and know-how. Fortunately, there are services out there like PCGS and NGC to authenticate these various dollars and coins for general consumers and collectors. Another tip to keep in your pocket is to never buy an expensive error coin without a certification or knowing your seller extremely well. You want to protect yourself and your wallet from any trending scams.