Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative Coins


The coins were authorized to commemorate the millennium of the New World’s discovery by the Viking Leif Ericson.

Leif Ericson, the oldest son of Eric the Red, became the first European to set foot on North America after he outfitted ships to follow the route of trader Bjarni Herjulfsson, who came back with tales of the beautiful land he had seen when he was blown off course. Leif Ericson came to the New World in much the same way — blown off course when he traveled from Norway to Greenland in 1000 A.D.

Ericson found farmland rich in timber and waters swimming with salmon. He first came upon what is now Labrador, then established a camp in Newfoundland, and finally, arrived in what could have been northern Newfoundland or even Cape Cod and gave it the name “Vinland.”

The Native Americans fiercely resisted settlement by the Vikings and within a year of his momentous discovery, Ericson abandoned Vinland and returned to Greenland.

The U.S. and Iceland each authorized their own coin in this two-coin set to mark the millennium of Ericson’s discovery of the New World. These are the first modern era legal tender silver commemorative coins released jointly by the United States and any other country.

In the U.S., the coin was authorized on December 6, 1999. The coins were available for purchase from the U.S. Mint from June 21, 2000, through February 28, 2001.

Authorized Mintage Limits

Silver Dollar: 500,000
Silver 1000 Kronur: 150,000

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Recipient Organization: The University of Virginia and the Central Bank of Iceland

Ten dollars from each coin sold benefits the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation for the purpose of funding graduate-level student exchanges between the United States and the Republic of Iceland. The foundation, which promotes the advanced study of Iceland's history; culture; literature; science; law; business; medicine; and technology, is a joint venture between the University of Virginia and the Central Bank of Iceland.

Commemorative Coin Surcharges

Commemorative coin programs are created by acts of Congress to honor a person, place, or event. Surcharges from the sales of these coins help fund a variety of organizations and projects that benefit the public. Commemorative coins are only available from the United States Mint for a limited time, as specified by public law.


U.S. Coin

The Leif Ericson Silver Dollar obverse shows a profile portrait of Leif Ericson, portrayed in the style of traditional Icelandic coins by artist John Mercanti.

The reverse, by artist James Ferrell, shows a Viking ship under full sail, coming toward the New World with Leif Ericson at the helm.

Icelandic Coin

The Leif Ericson Silver 1000 Kronur, designed by Icelander Throstur Magnusson, shows an interpretation of the Stirling Calder statue of Leif Ericson on the obverse. The statue was given to the Icelandic government in 1930 by the United States to commemorate the millennium of the Iceland parliament.

The reverse of the coin shows a stylized drawing of the Icelandic Coat of Arms, representing the country's four guardians: the eagle, the dragon, the bull and a giant. The guardians stand watch over the north, west, east, and south of Iceland.

Obverse Inscriptions

  • 2000

Reverse Inscriptions



Both coins are 1.500 inches in diameter and weigh 26.73 grams.

Artist Information

  • Designer: John Mercanti (Silver Dollar), Throstur Magnusson (Silver 1000 Kronur)
  • Designer: T. James Ferrell (Silver Dollar), Throstur Magnusson (Silver 1000 Kronur)

Related Information

Content last reviewed March 5, 2020

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