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Since You Asked

Sacajawea coins are still in mint condition We appreciated the convenience of &

36;1 and &

36;2 coins when we visited British Columbia recently. Canada has eliminated &

36;1 and &

36; 2 bills.

What happened to all the gold Sacajawea coins that were minted recently? I see very few locally.

' Kathy M., Ashland

Ah, the case of the missing coins. We called in the Since You Asked crack investigators to solve the mystery.

According to Carl Lorenz, numismatist and gemologist at Rogue Valley Coin and Jewelry Exchange in Medford, it's a simple matter of convenience. Apparently, it's not very convenient for most retailers to use the coins because their tills lack a place for them. Also, clerks are used to grabbing for bills rather than coins when making change, Lorenz said.

What's going to make the dollar coin work is to get rid of the bill, he said.

The coins were developed principally for use on the East Coast in road and bridge toll machines and laundry machines, said Lorenz. Portland's light rail vending machines give back change for bills in the &

36;1 coins.

A lot of people have hoarded the coins too.

They think it's going to be a rarity, but there's so many being hoarded there's really no chance of it, said Lorenz.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to