☆ 1933 double eagle gold coin.

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One 1933 double eagle currently holds the record for highest price paid at auction for a single U.S. coin when it was purchased for US$18.9 million. 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle were minted in 1933, the last year of production for the Double Eagle, but no specimens ever officially circulated and nearly all were melted down, due to the discontinuance of the domestic gold standard in 1933.

A 1933 Double Eagle, is an exceptionally rare $20 gold coin, with only (probably) 15 or 16 specimens surviving today from an original mintage of 455,000. Nearly all were melted down by 1937, leaving officialy just only 13: two in the Smithsonian Museum and the only one Weitzman Specimen, the only 1933 double eagle that can be legally owned by a private individual. 10 more coins were recovered in 2003 and held in the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. However, as a total of 20 or 25 coins were stolen, and circulated among collectors before being recovered, exact number of surviving specimens is uncertain. Experts believe that no more than five or six of these coveted 1933 Double Eagles remain in existence today. Illegal private possession led to the melting of nine more in the 1940s and 1950s. Only a single 1933 Double Eagle legally exists in private possession; all other coins of this kind belong to the U.S. government. The U.S. Secret Service actively tracks down any of these rare coins that surface.

Table of Contents

United States coin image from the United States Mint.

It is a history which is rich in detail; populated by fascinating characters and accented by ironic twists and turns of fate which made a mundane twenty-dollar gold piece into one of the single most enigmatic and fascinating coins ever made.

Production of the 1933 liberty 20 dollar gold coin.

In order to end the 1930s general bank crisis, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 in 1933 and the Gold Reserve Act in 1934, which outlawed the circulation and private possession of United States gold coins for general circulation, with an exemption for collector coins. But no one told the U.S. Mint to stop making new gold double Eagle! The mint Keep on manufacturing 445,000 new $20 Double Eagle coins for two month after Roosevelt’s executive Order 6102….

Why is the 1933 double eagle coin so valuable?

This act declared that gold coins were no longer legal tender in the United States, and people had to turn in their gold coins for other forms of currency. All 1933 gold Double Eagles were struck for two months after this executive order, but because they were no longer legal tender, most of the 1933 gold coins were melted down in late 1934 and some were destroyed in tests. Two of the $20 double eagle were presented by the United States Mint to the U.S. National Numismatic Collection, and on display in the “Money and Medals Hall” on the third floor of the National Museum of American History.

Several coins circulated amongst collectors years before the Secret Service became aware of their existence. The matter came to the attention of Mint officials when an investigative reporter looked into the history of the coins and contacted the Mint as part of his research, as a result of which an official investigation was begun by the Secret Service in 1944. Seven of the coins were discovered and turned over to federal agents (or seized) within the first year of the investigation, with one coin remaining in public possession until 1952.

Smithsonian specimens.

In October 1934, Acting Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Fred Chaffin handed over the two 1933 double eagles to Smithsonian officials, as indicated by an exchange on October 9 between Chaffin and U.S. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross. The round exhibited in Europe is among the pair of 1933 Double Eagles preserved by the U.S. Mint, bestowed upon the Smithsonian Institution back in 1933 for archival purposes. The 1933 in the Smithsonian are not considered issued by the US, so are not legally a coin but a “round”.

over the two 1933 double eagles to Smithsonian custody

These two coins should have been the only 1933 Double Eagle coins in existence.

However, unbeknownst to the Mint, a number of the coins (20 have been recovered so far, each of them was melted.) were stolen, possibly by the U.S. Mint Cashier, George McCann. At least nine of these coins, which were illegal to possess, found their way via Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt, into the hands of collectors. Israel Switt, died in 1990 at 95, was a coin dealer and owner of a jewelry store in the 100 block of South Eighth Street. One specimen, just weeks prior to the initiation of the Secret Service investigation in 1944, one of the 1933 Double Eagles found its way into the hands of a buyer who mistakenly obtained an export license for it. The coin then found its place in the renowned coin collection of King Farouk.

King Farouk / Fenton 1933 Double Eagle: the only one in private hand.

After the United States abandoned the gold standard, King Farouk of Egypt sought to purchase one of these coins legally On February 23, 1944, the legendary numismatic entrepreneur B. Max Mehl, sold a 1933 Double Eagle to King Farouk of Egypt for an unknown sum.

Two days later a representative from the Egyptian Royal Legation brought the coin to the Treasury in Washington, D.C. to apply for an Export License. This was in strict adherence with the Gold Reserve Act of 1934; as King Farouk was such a passionate collector of coins it was probably not the first time his representatives had gone through this procedure. As a result, on February 29, 1944, Export License TGL-11-170 was granted. The coin was retrieved from the Treasury on March 11th and eventually became a part of the extraordinary collection housed within the Koubbeh Palace in Cairo, owned by the Egyptian King.. The coin was picked up from the Treasury on March 11th and ultimately made its way into the remarkable collection housed by the Egyptian King in Koubbeh Palace, Cairo. Of course, as soon as they realized what they had done, the U.S. government immediately contacted their Egyptian counterparts through diplomatic channels to have the coin returned.

The spark that ignited this chain of events occurred a mere week later, on March 18, 1944. In response to an inquiry from the Coin and Stamp writer for the New York Herald Tribune, Acting Mint Director Leland Howard sent a telegram to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, urgently seeking information about whether any 1933 Double Eagles had been issued. This inquiry was motivated by news of an upcoming auction in New York.

The response received was that none of the 1933 Double Eagles had been disbursed, setting in motion a chain of events that would span over half a century. On March 22, 1944, Howard informed the Head of the United States Secret Service about the illegal nature of the coin. The Secret Service’s investigation on March 22, 1944 marked not only the commencement of the coin seizures but also the meticulous unraveling of their origins. The trail ultimately led back to the Mint, where a former Head Cashier emerged as the primary figure with access to these elusive coins. Notably, he had a checkered history, having been dismissed from the Mint and serving a one-year prison sentence in 1940 for a remarkably similar offense involving the embezzlement of obsolete silver coins. Worth noting, such an offense was, under the original Mint Act of April 2, 1792, punishable by death under Section 19. Two days later, Special Agents descended upon the offices of Stack’s in New York, where they confiscated the 1933 Double Eagle scheduled for sale the following day as part of the Colonel James Flanagan auction. This marked only the initial seizure, and by the end of March 25th, the Secret Service had already secured three of these coins, and the investigation was broadening.

Periodic efforts were made to retrieve this coin, but the backdrop of a World War, heightened tensions in the Middle East, and the presence of a significant ally took precedence over the recovery of a single coin. In 1952, when King Farouk was overthrown by a group of colonels led by Gamal Abdal Nasser, the US Treasury made another bid to reclaim its property. This time, the State Department acted on their behalf and managed to withdraw the Farouk’s 1933 coin from Sotheby’s auction of Farouk’s astounding coin collection. However, the State Department fell short of securing the coin’s return, leading to its disappearance and gradual fading into the annals of history. When this came to the attention of the Americans, they demanded it be removed from the auction and returned to them. The new Egyptian military government promised to do so. But the coin disappeared.

the Royal Legation of Egypt delivered the 1933 Double Eagle to the United States Treasury with a request for an Export License.

On February 29, 1944, the United States Treasury issued the Egyptian Royal Legation an Export License (TGL-170) for the 1933 Double Eagle

On March 6, 1944, a letter from the Associate Director of the Smithsonian Institution to Mint Director Ross confirmed that the coin was shown to T. Belote, who affirmed that the coin was of special interest to collectors prior to April 5, 1933, and December 28, 1933, pursuant to the Gold Reserve Act of 1934

witnessed Mr. Fahim of the Egyptian Royal Legation retrieving the 1933 Double Eagle from the United States Treasury.

Acting Mint Director Leland Howard wired the Superintendent of the United States Mint at Philadelphia to inquire whether any 1933 Double Eagles had been disbursed, referencing an upcoming auction in New York.

The General Counsel to the Treasury recommended that diplomatic representations be made to have the Farouk coin returned to the United States.January

1952, when Farouk was overthrown. In 1954, King Farouk’s 1933 Double Eagle reappeared in Cairo during a state-run auction of the former monarch’s coin collection, two years after his overthrow. The United States government identified the 1933 Double Eagle as part of that collection and formally requested the Egyptian government to withdraw it from the sale and return it as stolen property of the United States. Despite the coin being removed from the auction, it was not ultimately returned to the U.S.

Farouk / Fenton 1933 Double Eagle wouldn’t reappear untill 1996!

From Cairo to London in the Early 1990s

In the early 1990s, a London coin dealer named André de Clermont formed a connection with a mysterious Egyptian jeweler, tied to the Farouk collection. It was revealed that the jeweler, linked to a colonel in Nasser’s army, held coins acquired from Farouk’s unsold lots. De Clermont, collaborating with coin dealer Stephen Fenton for financing and valuation, discovered the possibility of the famous Farouk’s 1933 Double Eagle being among the coins. After over a year of dealings, they cautiously inquired about the coin, and to their delight, the jeweler confirmed its existence. The family, unsure about selling, kept the coin, marked as “Rare” in the original 1954 auction envelope. In de Clermont’s words, the jeweler said, “If it comes, it comes.”

In the late summer of 1995, the jeweler, in town with coins to sell, unveiled the 1933 Double Eagle. Stephon Fenton, after negotiations, purchased the coin for $220,000, with an agreement to share profits on a resale with de Clermont. Stephon Fenton stored the coin in a safety deposit box, orchestrating its sale through agents due to its rarity and value.

Stephon Fenton reached out to potential buyers, including Jasper Parrino, a Kansas City dealer, who, in turn, contacted Jack Moore, a coin world figure with ties to the FBI. Jack Moore, a government informant, alerted the FBI about the 1933 Double Eagle. Moore cooperated in a sting operation involving Parrino’s unnamed source, initiating negotiations over price and terms. A deal was struck: Moore’s client would pay $1.5 million, but the delivery had to be in the US. The condition was clear – unless Fenton brought the coin from Europe, there would be no deal.

In 1996, it was alleged that the long-lost Farouk ’33 had resurfaced.

In 1996, a British coin dealer was apprehended for attempting to surreptitiously sell a 1933 Double Eagle to a US dealer. Federal agents intervened in the transaction, and for several years thereafter, the US Mint engaged in negotiations with the British dealer regarding the coin’s legality. Finally, the US Mint acknowledged that this coin had been legally sold to King Farouk of Egypt in 1944, as the US government’s export license was on record. A span of forty-two years later, in New York City, Secret Service agents seized a 1933 Double Eagle from Stephen Fenton, an English coin dealer attempting to sell it. Federal agents swiftly confiscated the coin, leading to its storage in a vault within the World Trade Center for several years.

The Catch: Stephen Fenton’s Encounter with the Secret Service.

As an esteemed international dealer, Stephen Fenton often traveled to New York for significant deals. However, during this occasion, Fenton arrived in New York on a British Airways flight, via the Concorde, accompanied by a 1933 Double Eagle. Passing through U.S. Customs without issue, he declared more than 100 coins valued at $742,450.50 on his forms, spanning from 1830 to 1932 as stated in his documents. The following morning, Fenton convened with American coin dealer Jasper Parrino at the Waldorf Astoria.

On February 7, 1996, Fenton and a cousin joined him for the occasion, securing a room at the Hilton. Around eight in the evening, Fenton contacted Parrino and scheduled a meeting for the following day. Meanwhile, Moore and Freriks settled in at the Kimberly, located a few blocks from the Waldorf-Astoria. Although Moore had a suite reserved at the Waldorf, it was currently occupied by Secret Service agents. The next morning at eight, Freriks escorted Moore to the Waldorf. Collaborating with New York agents, they conducted sound checks in the room, arranged furniture for optimal visuals, and directed Moore on his positioning. Just as they prepared, a call came in—Parrino and Fenton had arrived at the lobby. The agents hastened to an adjacent room, where they set up surveillance via a concealed camera to observe the unfolding events.

It was only in 2001 that the coin’s provenance was definitively established.

as the U.S. government’s export license for the coin was discovered still on file. That year, both parties reached an agreement that the ownership would be split 50-50, it would be allowed to be auctioned, and the government would issue a special order for the coin – and only that one – to be remonetized, making it a legal tender. Shortly before the tragic events of September 11, the coin was removed from the World Trade Center and was then transported to Fort Knox, until it was sold at auction at Sotheby’s in 2002. The ensuing five-year legal battle surrounding the coin, marked by sworn depositions, confirmed its historical ownership by King Farouk. It was this legal struggle that unlocked the vaults of history, revealing an entirely unknown chapter in American numismatics, all centered around an unassuming coin with an extraordinary narrative. And when he did, he was arrested. Fenton argued that the coin belonged to Farouk, and therefore, it was legal to possess it, although he couldn’t prove it. However, it was enough to set him free, but not enough to avoid a legal battle between Fenton and the American government over the ownership of the coin.

Stephon Fenton, British coin dealer.

Stephon Fenton, who had dedicated his life to the coin business, left school at 15, gained experience at Mayfair Coin Company, and ventured out on his own. In 1980, he established “Knightsbridge Coins”, a discreet shop near Christie’s on Duke Street in London’s St. James’s area. At 43, Stephon Fenton had become a leading European coin’s dealer, specializing in American coins. In the early 1990s, a London coin dealer named André de Clermont formed a connection with a mysterious Egyptian jeweler, tied to the Farouk collection. It was revealed that the jeweler, linked to a colonel in Nasser’s army, held coins acquired from Farouk’s unsold lots.

Stephen Fenton, Auction Director: St James’s Auctions 10 Charles II Street St James’s London SW1Y 4AA Stephen’s fascination with coins dates back to his early years when he meticulously examined and gathered rare pennies from his mother’s spare change. This initial intrigue evolved into a deep passion for coins, particularly the farthings of Charles II, which eventually became his primary focus. After gaining valuable experience at Mayfair Coins, Stephen took a bold step in 1975. Armed with a £1,000 loan from his father, he established his enterprise within his uncle’s carpet shop in Knightsbridge, giving rise to the name Knightsbridge Coins. The year 1980 marked a significant move to the present location in St James’s, where the business has steadily grown over the years. In 2004, Stephen expanded the operation by inaugurating the auction division, known as St James’s Auctions.

Stuart Weitzman Revealed as the Secret Buyer of the 1933 Double Eagle Coin After Nearly Two Decades of Secrecy

Despite some bureaucratic mishaps, a deal was struck, allowing the coin to be sold at auction to an anonymous buyer at this time, However, in March 2021, an article in The New York Times disclosed that the collector Stuart Weitzman was the anonymous buyer. The identity of the purchaser from 2002 was kept secret for approximately twenty years. In a synchronized move, Weitzman chose to make his ownership of the coin public and announced his intention to auction it through Sotheby’s in June 2021 Rather than granting amnesty to all double eagle holders, the Mint opted for a tactic reminiscent of fairy tales: they changed the law. They officially acknowledged Fenton’s 1933 double eagle, complete with a unique title document that itself became a collectible item.

Farouk/Fenton 1933 Double Eagle’s First auction. Fetches $7,590,020 in 2002.

The sale featured the 1933 $20 Double Eagle gold coin, the only one in private hands. The auction received worldwide media coverage, with Barrie Winsor representing Monetarium at the event. The coin sold for a record $7.59 million, nearly double the previous record for a coin sale. The winning bid came from an anonymous buyer after a fiercely contested 9-minute battle against eight other bidders. The auction attracted 500 coin collectors and dealers in person, with an additional 534 observers on eBay. The auctioneer remarked on the astonishing new record, while Stack’s Managing Director noted that he had never seen such interest in any coin sale in his 30-year career.


During the auction, the Mint levied an extra $20 fee on the buyer, as if they were purchasing a new coin in 1933. TThe auction received worldwide media coverage, with Barrie Winsor representing Monetarium at the event. The coin sold for a record $7.59 million, nearly double the previous record for a coin sale. The winning bid came from an anonymous buyer after a fiercely contested 9-minute battle against eight other bidders. The auction attracted 500 coin collectors and dealers in person, with an additional 534 observers on eBay. The auctioneer remarked on the astonishing new record, while Stack’s Managing Director noted that he had never seen such interest in any coin sale in his 30-year career. he coin was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York on July 22, 2002, and it was acquired by an anonymous buyer. The hammer price was $6.6 million, to which the 15% commission for the auction house and $20 for remonetization had to be added, making a total price of $7,590,020. Half went to Fenton, and the other half to the government. At that time, it was the most expensive coin in history, a record it held until 2014 when a 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar was auctioned for just over $10 million.

‘The individual who acquired that coin essentially paid for the paper it came with. In five years, we’ll likely hear of yet another coin emerging with another dubious story,’”

A Philadelphia coin dealer, Stephen K. Nagy, The origin of certain highly prized coins in the realm of American numismatics.

By the way, from 1996 to July 2001, that coin was stored in what they thought was the safest place in New York: the vaults of Building 7 of the World Trade Center, the other building that collapsed with the Twin Towers. Up until just two months before September 11. After the auction, the anonymous buyer loaned it for exhibition to the Museum of the New York Historical Society, and then it was sent to Fort Knox. At that moment, everyone thought the saga had ended. End of the story.

Auction Benefiting U.S. Treasury for over $3 million.

Henrietta Holsman Fore, the Director of the United States Mint, expressed satisfaction with the sale, highlighting the coin’s remarkable journey from a face value of $20 to its current status as a symbol of significant value in coin collecting. Once the sale concludes, the United States Mint’s Public Enterprise Fund (PEF) will receive the entire amount, distributing a portion to Sotheby’s for their services and deducting expenses related to marketing, auctioning, and safeguarding the coin. The PEF will retain over $3 million, expected to be slightly more than half of the proceeds, as part of an out-of-court settlement, transferring it to the U.S. Treasury as a miscellaneous receipt.

2021: The Farouk 1933 Double Eagle back for sale!

Price estimate in 2021: 10,000,000 – 15,000,000 USD

Interestingly, this 1933 Double Eagle has a propensity to remain inconspicuous, even though it’s on everyone’s radar. When Sotheby’s announced the upcoming auction of this coin on June 8, 2021, it came as a surprise to many. This highly coveted artifact has been off the market since its sole public sale in 2002, and it has recently come to light that the purchaser was Stuart Weitzman, a renowned fashion designer and collector of rare items. Following its sale, Henrietta Holsman Fore, the director of the U.S. Mint, officially declared the coin as the sole 1933 double eagle ever legally issued by the U.S. government. This declaration effectively “monetized” the coin, granting it legal tender status. The purchaser would receive a transfer certificate confirming this status, but only after paying the auction price and a $20 fee, bringing the total sale price to $7,590,020.

The solitary 1933 Double Eagle in private ownership, part of Sotheby’s “Three Treasures” auction held on June 8, 2021. Sotheby’s has announced that on June 8, 2021, they will auction the Double Eagle sold in 2002. Its hammer price is estimated to be between 10 and 15 million dollars. The famous anonymous buyer who acquired it back then was the fashion designer Stuart Weitzman and sold the 1933 Double Eagle for a hammer price of 18,872,250 dollars, about 15.5 million euros. Adding a 14.9% fee brings it to 21,684,215.25 dollars, making it the most expensive coin in history.

The sole and only existing 1933 Double Eagle coin still in private hands finally return to US property………how naive they were.

10 other 1933 Double Eagles Gold Coins comes to light..

Israel Switt was dead a longtime ago. (died in 1990 at the age of 95) His jewelry store had been shuttered, left to collect dust. In 2003, Israel Switt’s grandson Roy Langbord decide to empty the old familiy safe in Sovereign Bank, a Pennsylvania bank, which hadn’t been opened for 50 years. Inside the safe-deposit box, inder pile of old papers, was an aged canvas bag from a long-closed company. The bag was suprinsigly heavy. Inside, old gold Mexican pesos and U.S gold coins, a little treasure. And ten additional  2-inch by 2-inch coin envelopes were found, each with a message. “LL” was decoded as “33,” and “DE” indicated “double eagle.” Could it be a code for 1933 Double Eagle? Roy’s suspicions were confirmed when he uncovered a 1933 double eagle coin within the first damager envelope he decided to open. In total, there were 10 envelopes, each holding a 1933 double eagle, concealed inside the bag. In total a trove of 10, 1933 Double Eagles, a discovery with the potential to be valued at over $70 million. Regrettably, the same misfortune trailed these ten coins, much like it had for the preceding one….

Images courtesy of U.S. Mint. The ten 1933 Double Eagles, now the property of the US Government

In August 2005, the retrieval of ten additional pilfered 1933 double eagle gold coins was declared by the United States Mint, tracing them back to the family of Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt. Switt, implicated by the Secret Service as a participant in the theft, had initially sold the first nine double eagles fifty years prior, and the one sold to King Farouk. The coins were turned over to the Secret Service by the ostensible owner, Joan Switt Langbord. After authentication by the United States Mint and collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, the coins were confirmed as genuine 1933 double eagles in July 2005. A range of accounts suggested that Switt’s connections within the Philadelphia Mint might have facilitated his access to the coins during the minting process. David Lebryk, director of the Mint, declared in a news release that the rare coins were taken from the Mint “in an unlawful manner”. Despite legal debates about their acquisition, the ownership dispute culminated in favor of the United States government in a 2016 trial.
These are currently in the possession of the American state. The journey of these coins continued, involving court battles, storage at Fort Knox, and even scrutiny by political figures like U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2017, as the coins remained enshrouded in historical intrigue.

How many 1933 Double Eagle coins were smuggled out of the mint?

During his 2018 presentation to the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN), U.S. Mint Senior Counsel Greg Weinman revealed a significant finding. Contrary to the belief that George McCann had smuggled out only the 20 coins that were currently accounted for, the Mint asserted that the actual number might be 25. This discrepancy stemmed from coin dealer James Macallister’s sworn testimony to the Secret Service, where he claimed that Switt, another dealer, had informed him of 25 coins. If Switt’s disclosure about the coins in his possession was accurate, then there could be an additional five coins are still missing

So an additional for 1933 coins are still hidden in secret collections.

Among these 25 coins stolen , the Farouk specimen, the 9 were seized by the Secret Service in the 1940s and 1950s, ten are part of the Langbord Hoard that emerged in 2003 and now in custody by US treasure and housed at the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, and one is the 21st coin surrendered in 2018 is stored within the identical Fort Knox vault that houses the 10 confiscated from Switt’s heirs. That’s 4 double Eagle Keep under secret since almost 100 years.

During the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatics (PAN) spring show, U.S. Mint Senior Legal Counsel Greg Weinman disclosed that he is aware of the whereabouts of one coin within the United States, another is located in Europe. The remaining two coins remain undisclosed. One could be lost, as In his “Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins”, Walter Breen asserted that a collector, concerned about potential seizure, tossed a 1933 double eagle into the sea during the 1950s.

Not too long ago, Parrino was captured on tape discussing two additional specimens, and as of today, he claims there are several more in existence. In the aftermath of the auction, David Tripp, the author of Sotheby’s catalog, openly admitted, “There must be more out there.” Israel Switt, the Philadelphia jeweler initially accused of illicitly dealing in these coins, once bragged to a buyer that he possessed over two dozen 1933 double eagles. Even one of the most venerable names in the world of coin collecting dubbed the Sotheby’s auction of 1933 double eagles as “a charade.” The genuine Farouk coin exists, with a clear provenance, and a knowledgeable expert is well aware of its whereabouts. According to the expert, when the government revises the law to categorize 1933 double eagles like other unissued coins, “the truth will emerge.” However, two lawyers involved in the Fenton settlement dismissed such claims, likening the 1933 double eagle to the “Loch Ness monster of coins” with everyone claiming sightings.

1933 Double Eagle Owners Warned Against Disclosure to the Mint

In an exclusive interview with Coin World, Israel Switt’s descendant shared personal recollections about how his family’s reputation had been besmirched. This story is linked to the family’s involvement in the jewelry and coin business, shedding light on historical events and challenges faced by the Switt family in the industry. And he leave those words:

The last thing to do is inform the Mint, enjoy the unique piece as long as you can. And if you want to sell it, do it outside the borders of the United States.

Roy Langbord

The 25 specimens of the 1933 double eagle – origin and fate –

25 coins had been smuggled.

During his 2018 presentation to the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN), U.S. Mint Senior Counsel Greg Weinman revealed a significant finding. Contrary to the belief that George McCann had smuggled out only the 20 coins that were currently accounted for, the Mint asserted that the actual number might be 25. This discrepancy stemmed from coin dealer James Macallister’s sworn testimony to the Secret Service, where he claimed that Switt, another dealer, had informed him of 25 coins. If Switt’s disclosure about the coins in his possession was accurate, then there could be an additional five coins hidden in secret collections.

For those unfamiliar with “Illegal Tender” by David Tripp or “Double Eagle” by Allison Frankel, apart from their inherent value as reads, both books assert that 25 of these coins were illicitly removed from the Philadelphia Mint. Among these 25 coins, nine were seized by the Secret Service in the 1940s and 1950s, ten are part of the Langbord Hoard housed at the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, and one is the 21st coin surrendered in 2018 is stored within the identical Fort Knox vault that houses the 10 pieces confiscated from Switt’s heirs.

In 1996, the King Farouk 1933 double eagle coin made a surprising reappearance.

London dealer Stephen Fenton and U.S. dealer Jay Parrino found themselves in legal trouble when they were apprehended by a Federal agent in New York while attempting to finalize the sale of this rare piece. The coin was seized and stored in the U.S. Secret Service vaults at the World Trade Center in New York. Subsequently, the charges against the two coin dealers were dropped, with Mr. Parrino asserting that he had no financial stake in the coin.

Mr. Fenton later took legal action against the U.S. government in an attempt to reclaim the coin. However, just before a jury was set to commence hearing the case in January 2001, the U.S. government disclosed that it had come to an out-of-court settlement with Mr. Fenton. Under the terms of the settlement, the U.S. government and Mr. Fenton agreed to divide the proceeds from the coin’s auction to the highest bidder. As part of this agreement, the U.S. government would officially reissue this 1933 double eagle and confer ownership upon the winning bidder.

That leaves 4 coins unaccounted for.

During the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatics (PAN) spring show, U.S. Mint Senior Legal Counsel Greg Weinman disclosed that he is aware of the whereabouts of one coin within the United States, another is located in Europe. The remaining two coins remain undisclosed. One could be lost, as In his “Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins”, Walter Breen asserted that a collector, concerned about potential seizure, tossed a 1933 double eagle into the sea during the 1950s. Weinman emphasized that there are no intentions to pursue the three coins whose locations are known to the U.S. Mint.

The coin was subsequently transferred to Fort Knox, approximately six months before the tragic terrorist attack that led to the destruction of the World Trade Center. Two additional examples of this exceedingly rare coin are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s collection. Nonetheless, rumors persist about the existence of one or more “underground” specimens.

List of the fate of the known 1933 double eagle coins.

Back in 1944, after the U.S. government became aware that some examples of the 1933 double eagle had illicitly left the mint, an investigation was initiated under the supervision of the U.S. Secret Service. The following list summarizes the fates of all known examples of the 1933 double eagle.

  • 1933 double eagle # 1 (Melted): Stolen by Mint Cashier George A. McCann on March 20, 1934; subsequently acquired by Israel Switt in the early days of February 1937, and later transferred to James Macallister in July 1937 for $550. The ownership chain continued as it was sold to B. Max Mehl on July 15, 1937 (according to James Macallister) and then reportedly sold on July 21, 1937 (as per Mehl). Colonel James W. Flanagan took possession on November 26, 1937, paying $1,250, with the payment made on December 3, 1937, as confirmed by B. Max Mehl. The coin was consigned to Stack’s auction scheduled for March 23, 1944, listed as lot 1681 but was eventually withdrawn from the auction. Subsequently, it was confiscated from Stack Brothers by Secret Service Agents James Haley and Harry W. Strang at 2:00 PM on March 24, 1944, at 12 W. 46th Street, New York, N.Y. The seizure was carried out under the belief that the coin was the property of Col. James W. Flanagan of Palm Beach, Florida.
  • 1933 double eagle # 2 (Melted): Seized from dealer Max Berenstein in 1944. Max Berenstein, located a few blocks away, was approached by agents and reluctantly surrendered his 1933 Double Eagle, revealing more names of those involved Melted.
  • 1933 double eagle # 3 (Melted): Seized from James F. Bell, a pseudonym of Jacob F. Shapiro, a finance investor from Chicago and long-time client of Stack. (1944). Destroyed.
  • 1933 double eagle # 4 (Melted): Surrendered to the Secret Service by Frederick C. C. Boyd in 1945. Destroyed. This coin attracted considerable attention and was prominently displayed at several ANA convention.
  • 1933 double eagle # 5 (Melted): Seized by the U.S. Secret Service from T. James Clarke through Clarke’s attorney in 1945. Clarke subsequently lost a lawsuit to recover the coin in 1947. The coin was melted down.
  • 1933 double eagle # 6 (Melted): Seized from James A. Stack (1945). A subsequent lawsuit, apparently brought by Stack’s heir(s) in 1955, was unsuccessful. Melted.
  • 1933 double eagle # 7 (Melted): In 1945, C.M. Williams surrendered a 1933 double eagle to the U.S. Secret Service. The coin was subsequently melted down. On June 20, 1945, Agent Robuck received the coin from Mr. C.M. Williams, R.F.D. #13, Mt. Washington, Cincinnati, Ohio, following a telegram from F.C.C. Boyd.”
  • 1933 double eagle # 8 (Melted): In 1945, L.G. Barnard, a collector in Memphis, surrendered a 1933 double eagle to the U.S. Mint. Unlike other collectors, Barnard declined to cooperate initially. In August 1945, he was summoned by the United States government, which filed a lawsuit to recover the coin. Barnard lost the lawsuit in 1947, resulting in the coin being melted down.
  • 1933 double eagle # 9 (Sole existing specimen in private hand): Exported to King Farouk of Egypt by U.S. Treasury export license (1944). Withdrawn from Palace Collections of Egypt (King Farouk) coin auction (1954). Seized from dealers Stephen Fenton and Jay Parrino (1996). Officially issued and monetized by U.S. government on July 30, 2002.
  • 1933 double eagle # 10 and # 11 (existing, vaulted by National Coin Collection ) Conveyed to the National Coin Collection, Smithsonian Institution (1934), where it resides today.
  • 1933 double eagle # 12 In 1952, Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. surrendered a 1933 double eagle to the U.S. Mint. This marked the emergence of the tenth 1933 double eagle, which Eliasberg had acquired in 1944 from a collector who originally bought it from Israel Switt in 1937. When Eliasberg planned to publicly display his coin collection, he realized there were legal issues concerning the ownership of the 1933 double eagle. Aware of the uncertainty surrounding his possession of the coin, Eliasberg voluntarily sent it to the Mint for clarification. The coin was subsequently melted down.
  • 1933 double eagle # 13 to # 23: Seized from Langbord family by United States Mint recovered ten coins in Philadelphia in September 2004,  in the possession of the Langbord family from Philadelphia in 2003, Joan Langbord is Israel “Izzy” Switt’s daughter.
  • 1933 double eagle # 24 . The Kodak – Naftzger – Browning Surrended in 2018.
  • 1933 double eagle # 25. Not Confirmed existence. Mint believe Unknown location in USA
  • 1933 double eagle # 26 Not Confirmed existence. Unknown location in Europe.US coin collector Richard Lobel shared that in 1991 he personally witnessed and handled a 1933 $20 gold coin in Zurich, Switzerland. The dealer, who has since passed away, also possessed a 1964 US Silver Dollar. Richard is confident that both coins were genuine. The dealer wasn’t looking to sell them; instead, he was showcasing them. Although this occurred over 30 years ago, Richard believes that both coins may still be part of a collection in Switzerland.

Owners of the known 1933 double eagle coins – Extended –

1933 double eagle # 1 from James Wainwright Flanagan, american coin collector (1872–1950).

James Wainwright Flanagan (1872–1950) emerged as a prominent figure in the domains of banking and petroleum engineering. Born on October 26, 1872, in Henderson, Texas, he was the progeny of Robert Buck and Anna Bell (Cornelius) Flanagan. His lineage boasted connections to Gen. Webster Flanagan, making him the nephew of this military figure, and he also held the distinguished position of being the great-nephew of United States Senator James Winwright Flanagan.

Flanagan’s early years were characterized by a departure from Henderson, leading him into the realms of railroad work and mining across Cuba, Mexico, and the United States between 1888 and 1912. His professional trajectory reached its zenith when he assumed the presidency of the Royal Bank of Canada in 1913. A pivotal moment in his career unfolded in 1919 when he played a key role in organizing a corporation tasked with constructing a 615-mile petroleum pipeline from Cartagena to Barrancabermeja, Colombia. The Colombian government, recognizing the monumental nature of this achievement, commemorated Flanagan with a monument in 1949.

His contributions extended beyond professional achievements.

Flanagan served as a lieutenant colonel in the Cuban army in 1896, earning the prestigious Medal of Military Merit. In 1898, he played a vital role on the staff of Brig. Gen. W. W. Gordon and later held an honorary commission as lieutenant colonel in the First and Second battalions of the Irish Regiment of Canada in 1940. Numerous accolades from South American and European countries underscored his contributions, with Pope Pius XI bestowing upon him the title of commander in the Order of St. Gregory in 1926. Active memberships in the Texas State Historical Association and the Sons of the Republic of Texas further highlighted his commitment to historical and cultural preservation. His linguistic prowess was evident in 1933 when he translated Theodore Wolf’s “Geography and Geology of Ecuador.”

Flanagan consigned his expansive collection, which included a 1933 double eagle, to Stack’s, a burgeoning numismatic auction firm. This aligns with Stack’s establishment in 1933, and by the early-to-mid-1940s, the firm had firmly established itself in the competitive New York numismatic scene. The advertisement of Flanagan’s collection in The Numismatist hinted at the scarcity of the 1933 $20 coins, estimating a mere 8-10 examples in existence. Stack’s boldly anticipated setting a world record for aggregate prices realized, emphasizing the “excessively rare and in great demand” nature of the 1933 double eagle, which led to Secret Service investigation then seizure.

After spending many years in Toronto, Ontario, and holding the position of vice president at the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, Flanagan retired from public life in 1946. He chose to make Houston, Texas, his new residence. Two marriages marked his personal life, with Panchita G. Love in 1902 and later Hazel B. Brown in 1913. The latter union blessed him with two children. The narrative of James Wainwright Flanagan came to an end in Houston on July 24, 1950.

1933 double eagle # 2 from sized from Max Berenstein, melted in 1956.

After departing Stack’s on March 24, 1944, Secret Service Special Agents Harry Strang and James Haley embarked on a mission to Max Berenstein’s jewelry shop at 435 Madison Ave. clutching a receipt for the Flanagan coin, the clock ticking precisely at 2:00 PM. The Stacks had just revealed their prized possession, the Flanagan coin, and disclosed a crucial lead on the elusive 1933 double eagles, hinting that Max Berenstein might be in possession of one.

Upon reaching Max Berenstein’s establishment, Agent Strang knocked on the door, which slowly creaked open to reveal a guarded Max Berenstein.

  • Berenstein, eyeing the agents warily, inquired, “Can I help you gentlemen?”
  • Agent Haley, flashing his badge, replied, “Good afternoon, Mr. Berenstein. We’re Special Agents Strang and Haley from the Secret Service. We have some questions regarding a certain 1933 double eagle coin.”
  • Berenstein, with furrowed brows, asked, “The 1933 double eagle, you say? What’s this all about?”
  • Agent Strang reassured him, “We’re investigating the history of this coin, Mr. Berenstein. We’ve been told it passed through your hands.”
  • Reluctantly, Berenstein admitted, “Well, yes, I did have such a coin once. What do you want to know?”
  • Agent Haley, with politeness, inquired, “We’re interested in how you came to possess it, Mr. Berenstein. We’ve heard you acquired it from James G. Macallister. Can you tell us more about that transaction?”

Berenstein confirmed this tip and disclosed that he had acquired the coin from James G. Macallister. In a subsequent interview, Macallister revealed his involvement in obtaining five 1933 double eagles from Israel Switt, a gold dealer, in early 1937. The first acquisition took place on February 15, 1937, for a hefty sum of $500, recognizing the rarity of the 1933 double eagle.

The coin purchased on February 15 eventually became Berenstein’s property, who paid a staggering $1,600 for it just two days later, sealing the deal on February 17, 1937. Macallister, after returning to Switt, secured a second 1933 double eagle for $500 on February 21, admitting to a total of five such acquisitions before ceasing due to suspicions about Switt’s inventory.

Further investigation by David Tripp, as published in “Illegal Tender” (2004), uncovered Berenstein’s additional dealings with 1933 double eagles. Berenstein admitted to keeping one for himself and purchasing another from a New York collector named Taylor, subsequently selling it to R. H. Smith of Chicago. Smith listed the coin in a February 1941 ad in The Numismatist, and, according to Berenstein, Smith eventually sold it to Philadelphia dealer Ira Reed.

In gratitude for Berenstein’s cooperation, federal agents confiscated the coin. In a subsequent meeting, Berenstein provided more information, revealing that owners of 1933 double eagles, including F.C.C. Boyd, Ira Reed, and J.F. “Jake” Bell, might be present at the upcoming Stack’s auction. He also mentioned that New York dealer Abe Kosoff had sold another of these coins to collector T. James Clarke of Jamestown, New York.

The agents returned to Stack’s, continuing their investigation into the complex history of the 1933 double eagles. Berenstein’s 1933 Double Eagle coin met the same fate as the Flanagan coin – it was melted down in August 1956.

1933 double eagle # 6 from James A. Stack, US coin collector. Melted in 1956.

James A. Stack is a notable figure among collectors of high-quality U.S. coins, primarily due to the dispersal of his collection through several auctions in the late 1980s and early ’90s. If he had opted for a single sale, his collection would have been considered one of the 20th century’s greatest. The decision to split the collection into multiple sales is a tale for another time. Here, the focus is on a remarkable coin that never made it to auction—the 1933 $20 double eagle.

The story of James A. Stack’s 1933 $20 is extensively detailed in David Tripp’s “Illegal Tender” (2013). On April 3, 1944, James A. Stack had his initial encounter with the U.S. Secret Service, led by Special Agent Edward Connors, who visited Stack’s Broadway office in New York, according to Tripp, during the 1944’s interrogation by the United States Secret Service, fellow collector F.C.C. Boyd identified Stack as the owner of a 1933 $20. Following Boyd’s revelation, the Secret Service visited “Stack Bros., Numismatists,”at 12 West 46th Street in New York (unrelated to Stack’s Bowers firm that sold anaother 1933 Double Eagle in 2022. Initially hesitant to disclose the source of his acquisition, Stack eventually confirmed, under presented evidence, that he had acquired the coin from Philadelphia coin dealer Ira Reed. Despite holding onto the coin for over a year, James A. Stack, on June 20, 1945, reluctantly surrendered his 1933 Double Eagle to the Secret Service. James A. Stack continued his legal battle for the return of his 1933 $20 until his death in 1951.
The dispute over forms between the Stack estate and the federal government persisted for five years until the case was eventually dismissed. In 1956, the government assumed full possession of the coin, which was subsequently melted down in August of that year.

1933 double eagle # 7 from Charles F. Williams, melted in 1956.

Charles F. Williams, a prominent figure in both the business and philanthropic spheres, passed away on September 11, 1952, at the age of 79. Born and educated in Cincinnati, he graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1897, subsequently being admitted to the bar that same year. Mr. Williams embarked on a successful law career, serving as chairman of the Hamilton County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly from 1901 to 1906.

Charles Williams, a notable coin collector and owner of a 1933 double Eagle

C. William came under the scrutiny of federal agents in 1944 due to his possession of a 1933 double eagle. The lead came from Philadelphia coin dealer James Macallister during an interview on March 28, 1944.

Contrary to Macallister’s initial information that Williams acquired the coin from Abe Kosoff, it was revealed that Williams had initially attempted to purchase a 1933 double eagle through coin dealer Joseph Barnet. Barnet, however, dissuaded Williams from the $800 purchase, anticipating a potential decrease in price as more examples emerged. Undeterred, Williams obtained the coin through B. Max Mehl, according to records. Mehl had acquired it from Switt for $550 in 1937, and Williams claimed to have paid Mehl $1,000 for the coin in an interview with Secret Service Special Agent Ralph W. Robuck on April 6, 1944.

In the summer of 1945, Williams surrendered the coin to the Secret Service, and like many others, it was melted down in August 1956.

Notable coin collector and owner of the Western and Southern Insurance Company in Cincinnati

In 1910, Charles F. Williams transitioned from law to the insurance business, acquiring control of the Western & Southern Life Insurance Co. alongside his brother, W. J. Williams. Initially serving as Vice President and general counsel, he assumed the Presidency in 1931 following his brother’s passing. Under his leadership, the company experienced remarkable growth, transforming from a $130,000 “family owned” enterprise to a major player in the industry, boasting over $1 billion worth of insurance in force.

Beyond his corporate success, Charles F. Williams was a dedicated leader in civic, philanthropic, and religious endeavors. Actively contributing to hospitals, schools, scientific centers, and charitable organizations, he held influential roles in various national, state, and city boards. Noteworthy positions included chairing the 1932 Community Chest Campaign, serving as the general chairman of President Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration for Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and presiding over the Cincinnati Property Owners Association.

Charles F. Williams was deeply involved in cultural and artistic institutions, serving as a trustee of the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts and a director and trustee of Rookwood Pottery. His commitment extended to the world of music as a past President of the Civic Opera Association of Cincinnati.

Recognized for his outstanding contributions, Pope Pius XI conferred upon him the title of Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1934. Pope Pius XII later appointed him Master Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Charles F. Williams held honorary degrees from Xavier University, Notre Dame University, and Georgetown University. In 1950, he and Mrs. Williams were honored with the Grand Cross of the Papal Order of the Holy Sepulcher by Cardinal Francis Spellman.

Charles F. Williams left a lasting legacy as a visionary leader, compassionate philanthropist, and devoted supporter of various causes, marking his indelible impact on both the business and humanitarian landscapes.

Louis Eliasberg, Sr. 1933 double Eagle #12.

At one point, Louis Eliasberg possessed a 1933 $20 gold coin, one of only three known to be in the hands of private collectors, including King Farouk of Egypt. However, upon discovering that the government deemed these coins to have been illegally issued and was recalling them, Mr. Eliasberg voluntarily returned his coin to the government in 1952 without compensation. Ira Reed obtained the coin he later sold to Baltimore banker Louis Eliasberg, Sr. directly from Israel Switt, selling it for $1,000 on April 15, 1944, despite being aware of ongoing confiscations and a criminal investigation.

Although the situation was widely discussed in New York numismatic circles, it’s conceivable that information had not yet reached Baltimore, where Eliasberg, a regular Stack’s customer, acquired the historic Clapp Collection.

Eliasberg voluntarily surrendered his 1933 $20 gold coin in 1952, sending it to the United States Mint Superintendent with an unannounced letter. The U.S. Secret Service was unaware of the coin’s location, and Eliasberg had not attracted their attention. He returned the coin upon learning that the government considered it illegally issued.

In a subsequent legal case, it was revealed that ten other 1933 double eagles claimed by Mrs. Joan Langbord were illegally obtained by Israel Switt and belonged to the U.S. government. Eliasberg’s request for the return of his coin was met with bureaucratic silence, and the Eliasberg specimen was melted down in August 1956.

Eliasberg was not only a remarkable collector but also a generous and knowledgeable correspondent with the coin-collecting community.

He came to public attention after being featured in a LIFE magazine article and was honored with a special trophy by Numismatic Gallery Magazine in recognition of his extraordinary achievement.

In his personal life, Louis Eliasberg, Sr. was born in Selma, Alabama, and was the son of Adolph Eliasberg and Hortense Rosalinde Schwartz. He attended Baltimore City College and graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was married to Hortense Miller Kahn, and after her passing, he later married R. Lucille Jones. He had two sons, Louis Eliasberg, Jr. and Richard. Louis Eliasberg, Sr. served as the president of the Finance Company of America. He passed away at his home in Baltimore and was laid to rest at Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery.

Eliasberg’s numismatic quest involved an ambitious endeavor to collect an example of every coin listed in Green’s Mint Record and Type Table. His acquisition of the John Clapp collection in 1942, for over $100,000, was considered the largest single cash transaction in numismatic history. The final coin needed to complete his collection was the 1873-CC no-arrows Liberty Seated dime, acquired in 1950. Although he acquired a 1933 $20 Double Eagle, he voluntarily surrendered it to the government.

Sections of the Eliasberg collection were offered for sale by Stacks in 1947 as the H. R. Lee collection, with the initials H.R. representing his mother and L.E.E. signifying his own. The collection and his story were featured in Life and LOOK magazines in the 1960s. He also served on the Assay Commission in 1962, and his collection was exhibited at the Philadelphia Mint in 1976 and in various cities around the United States, including Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and New York.

Louis Eliasberg, Sr. consigned coins to Stack’s auction in 1947 and a New Netherlands auction in 1957. Although the collection wasn’t explicitly identified as the Eliasberg collection, its history was well-known among numismatists. Despite his remarkable achievement, Louis Eliasberg, Sr. is not in the American Numismatic Association Hall of Fame, an honor that seems fitting for the only individual to amass a complete collection of United States coins.

Louis E. Eliasberg, also known as Louis Edward Eliasberg Sr. (February 12, 1896 – February 20, 1976), stood as an American financier and devoted numismatist hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Within the numismatic community, he gained prominence for assembling the sole comprehensive collection of United States coins ever compiled, with a particular focus on coins in impeccable condition. It’s important to note that, by modern standards, his set was not deemed entirely “complete” because it didn’t distinguish between proofs and circulation strikes, as contemporary collectors and set registries tend to do. Additionally, it didn’t emphasize die variations. Nevertheless, it remains the most comprehensive U.S. numismatic collection to this day.

Among the exceptional pieces in the Eliasberg collection was the famous “Eliasberg Specimen” of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel, which was later purchased by an undisclosed California collector for a staggering sum of $5 million in April 2007. Another noteworthy coin was the 1873-CC no-arrows Liberty Seated dime, significant for being the final piece required to complete the Eliasberg collection.

1933 double Eagle #24: Surrendered in 2018, in U.S. custody.

In 2018, the Mint disclosed that an unnamed collector had voluntarily surrendered a 1933 double eagle to the United States Secret Service. The coin’s characteristics matched those captured on the Kodak film. Analyzing images from David Tripp’s 2004 book “Illegal Tender” alongside those of a 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle reported by the U.S. Mint in 2018 to have been surrendered reveals that both depict the same coin. While we cannot definitively affirm if this is the same coin associated with the Naftzger-Browning pedigree as alleged by Liedman, it does seem credible, in contrast to some other dubious narratives. Dr. George Hunter, the former Mint official who authenticated the 10 specimens recovered from the Langbord family, also authenticated the surrendered specimen. His detailed examination, conducted under microscopic magnification from 4x to 40x, included analyzing metal flow markings, lettering shapes and placement, die fill, split collar, weight, diameter, thickness, color, and overall heft.

In 2004, While finalizing “Illegal Tender,” David Tripp received full-color images of a 1933 double eagle taken in 1980 using Kodak paper from an anonymous source. Tripp included the coin in his book, dedicating a section to the rumors he had gathered, but does not name names. It was an authentic coin with distinctive markings not present on the two Smithsonian examples or the Farouk coin sold in 2001. The coin, featured in David Tripp’s book and currently in Mint custody, exhibits the same diagnostics as the surrendered piece, including post-strike marks and damage from handling. Noteworthy features include a raised diagonal mark below the B in LIBERTY, trailing scuffs to the left of Liberty’s hair, and a spot on the right end of the eighth ray down from Liberty’s side on the obverse. The reverse displays deep horizontal cuts on the eagle’s wings and neck, a mark above the eagle’s beak between the two rays, and a sharp horizontal cut through the lower portion of the upright of the second L of DOLLARS.
There is speculation among numismatists that the relinquished coin may have been part of the collections owned by numismatists R.E. “Ted” Naftzger and H. Jeff Browning at various points in time. Julian Leidman, a venerable and highly regarded figure in the national numismatic scene, shared an intriguing story from 1975. During that year, he joined coin dealers Mike Brownlee and Stan Kesselman to acquire a collection of Liberty Head and Saint-Gaudens double eagles from the affluent California coin collector Ted Naftzger. The owner of the surrendered piece chose to remain anonymous and voluntarily turned it over to the Mint through the Secret Service, preferring not to possess stolen government property as determined by federal courts. Mint officials, per instructions from the Department of Justice, refrain from divulging specific details regarding when and how the 1933 double eagle was surrendered.

According to Leidman, Naftzger’s collection included a 1933 double eagle among his gold coin holdings. Leidman asserted that the negotiation and sale of these coins, including the ’33, were orchestrated by Brownlee to Texas oilman Jeff Browning. Following Browning’s passing, the majority of his numismatic holdings underwent public auction. As claimed by Leidman, the 1933 double eagle discreetly found its way into the collection of a close confidant.

End of the story?


Executive Order 6102 is an executive order signed on April 5, 1933, by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt On March 6, taking Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 2039 that r”egulate, or prohibit, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, by means of licenses or otherwise, any transactions in foreign exchange and the export, hoarding, melting, or earmarkings of gold or silver coin or bullion or currency”
Gold as a currency is illegal to own since 6 April 1933.

Nobody told the Mint to stop manufacturing gold coins.
2 March The first 20 dollar 1933 struck at the US Mint, Philadelphia
15 March The first 25,000 coins struck
Between March 15 and March 24, 1933, the initial batch of 100,000 1933 Double Eagles was minted.
The coins were kept out of circulation due to the banking crisis as United States abandoned the gold standard in january 33.
From March 15, 1933, to May 19, 1933, a total of 20 1933 Double Eagles were dispatched to the Bureau of Mint in Washington, D.C., for laboratory testing, and all of them were subsequently melted down.
Between April 7 and April 27, 1933, a substantial quantity of 200,000 1933 Double Eagles were minted.”
From May 8 to May 19, 1933, a total of 145,500 1933 Double Eagles were minted. The last Double Eagles is minted on may 19. None were issued.
27 June, 1933 444,500 1933 coins installed in
Vault F on the East side of the Mint basement The Mint keep the tracking of all the coins: 480 gold double eagles in the cashier’s vault and 445,500 in its Working Vault
Instead the coins, weighing nearly 15 tons, were put into 1,780 canvas sealed in wax  bags and sealed behind three steel doors in Philadelphia Mint Vault F-Cage 1 under supervision og custodian Edward F. McKernon and the three members of the Mint’s Settlement Committee (including Mint Cashier George McCann)

January 30, 1934 – Congressional Approval of the Gold Reserve Act of 1934
Before February 2, 1934 – A total of 445,000 1933 Double Eagles were stored in Mint Vault F – Cage 1, with 480 of them segregated for assay and testing purposes.
February 2, 1934 – 34 (Thirty-four) 1933 Double Eagles were removed from the assay holding and either added to the Vault F – Cage 1 holding or kept in the Cashier’s vault.
February 14-15, 1934 – The Assay Commission convened to inspect 446 1933 Double Eagles, resulting in the melting of 9 coins during testing.
February 20, 1934 – A total of 437 1933 Double Eagles were returned to the Mint from the United States Assay Commission and stored in the Cashier’s vault.
March 20, 1934George A. McCann assumed the position of Mint Cashier.
October 9, 1934George McCann sent 2 of the 1933 Double Eagles to the Smithsonian Collection.

3 February 1937: he Treasury Department ordered that all the coins be melted down.
Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross gave orders to have two 1933 double eagles transferred from the Philadelphia Mint to the Smithsonian Institution, where they would join the National Numismatic Collection. By that time, the Cashier’s Vault should have held a total of 469 1933 double eagles.
Between February 6 and March 18, 1937, the Mint took drastic action bymelting down the entire contents of Vault F, which included a staggering 445,000 of the 1933 double eagles that had remained untouched since McKernon sealed the vault in 1933.
18 March 1937 U.S. Mint reported that all coins in Vault F had been melted down
In June 1937 the same fate befell the 469 double eagles held in the Cashier’s Vault.
An employee of the Philadelphia Mint sold ten $20 coins from 1933 to coin dealer Israel Switt between 1933 and 1937. Israel Switt sells the coins, one by one, to various coin dealers – the tenth in 1941.
On February 15, 1937, Israel Switt made the first sale of a 1933 Double Eagle to coin dealer James G. Macallister for $500.
July 1937 Israel Switt sells another two 20 dollar 1933 to coin dealer James Macallister
one for USD 500,- and 550,-

During May 1940, Mint Cashier. George McCann was under arrest for pilfering uncurrent silver coin from the United States Mint.
In February 1941, Smith & Son advertised a 1933 Double Eagle in The Numismatist.
In February 1944, Stack’s issued an advertisement in The Numismatist announcing the sale at auction of the Colonel James W. Flanagan Collection.
On February 23, 1944, The Texan coin dealer Max Mehl bought a 20 dollar 1933 from Chicago coin dealer Jake Shakiro who the very same day sold it on to King Farouk of Egypt. . All identified coin owners receive letters from the Secret Service. This specimen had already passed through six owners.l Secret Service stating that possession is illegal. In 1944 and 1945, eight coins were seized or returned.

The last privately held 1933 $20 coin, other than the one owned by King Farouk, is acquired by collector Louis E. Eliasberg. Sotheby’s auction house announces the sale of the Farouk collection on behalf of Egypt.
The collection includes 8,500 coins and medals. The sale of the 1933 $20 coin is withdrawn at the last minute, without explanation. In 1956, nine 1933 coins are melted down on behalf of the Department of the Treasury.
August 1956 Nine speciemens of the 20 dollar 1933 were melted downon orders by the Treasury Department in Washington

The 1933 $20 coin from the Farouk collection is purchased, along with other American coins, by London coin dealer Stephen Fenton for $220,000.
British dealer Stephen Fenton successfully imported the 1933 gold coin in 1995, which he had acquired from London dealer Andre de Clermont. De Clermont, in turn, had obtained the coin from an Egyptian jeweler known to have connections with the highest echelons of his nation’s military leadership. In 1996, Stephen Fenton is caught selling the coin to someone he believes is a collector. The actual buyer is Secret Service Agent R. David Freriks. The U.S. government wants to retain the coin.

In the afternoon of February 7, 1996, Stephen Fenton, tchairman of the British Numismatic Trade Association and aslo a famous British coin dealer, arrived in New York City on a British Airways flight. He was accompanied by a 1933 Double Eagle coin.
In the morning of February 8, 1996, Fenton met with American coin dealer, Jasper Parrin,o at the Waldorf Astoria to discuss the potential sale of the 1933 Double Eagle. Parrino brought along two individuals, who were supposedly a buyer and a coin expert, but in reality, they were two undercover Secret Service agents. As Fenton handed over the coin for inspection, the agents burst into the room, seized the coin, and arrested both Fenton and Parrino on charges of conspiring.

An agreement has been reached between the U.S. government and Stephen Fenton to divide the earnings from a public sale.
On July 20, 2002, the United States Government publicly auctioned the only 1933 Double Eagle coin that had been “issued and monetized.”
On July 30, 2002 Sotheby’s/Stack’s conducted the auction in New York City, and to the amazement of many, the coin was sold for an unprecedented price of US$7.59 Million. The identity of the buyer, who acquired the coin in 2002, remained a well-guarded secret for nearly two decades.
in March 2021, a New York Times article revealed that the collector behind this remarkable purchase was none other than Stuart Weitzman.

In 2004, the family of jeweler Israel Switt, located in Philadelphia, surrendered ten previously undiscovered 1933 $20 coins to the Secret Service.

Judge Legrome D. Davis affirmed the government’s ownership of 1933 Double Eagle Coins in the Langbord case.

On June 1, 2018, the U.S. Mint recovered another 1933 Double Eagle that had been voluntarily surrendered by its owner.

Fast forward to June 2021, Stuart Weitzman’s 1933 Double Eagle Gold Coin made history at Sotheby’s, fetching a staggering $18.9 million.

The 1933 Double Eagle seizure Challenging the Notion of “Monetization”.

The alleged “theft” of the 1933 double eagles went undetected for specific reasons.

Firstly, the government received the expected amount of gold from the melting of the 1933 double eagles, masking any irregularities. Secondly, exchanging one 1933 double eagle for another was not illegal at the time due to the absence of recognition of numismatic value in the gold surrender order. The act of switching could not have been deemed illegal before the issuance of the gold surrender order, and it could have taken place anytime between the minting of the coins and the promulgation of the order. Consequently, the burden lies on the government to establish that the switch occurred after the gold surrender order, a challenging task given the 75-year-old evidence.

In a related context, Farouk successfully transported an example of the coin out of the country without the government realizing its illegality. It is suggested that a lower-level clerk likely approved the export application unknowingly. The requirement for the new owner of the Farouk/Fenton piece to pay a $20 “monetization” fee and the confiscation and melting of all previously known examples imply that the government never officially considered these coins released.

The term “monetization” is criticized as a concept concocted by the government in the 1990s to rationalize the seizure of the Fenton/Parrino coin. Applying this concept to events in 1933, over 60 years before its invention, is deemed illogical.

The question raised is how Izzy could have “monetized” the coins when the concept of “monetization” was supposedly introduced by the government in 1995. The response clarifies that only fiat money, like paper or base metal coins declared as “legal tender” by the government, needs to be “monetized.” Gold coins, on the other hand, don’t require monetization because they inherently possess the value of the gold they contain.

The narrative challenges the government’s claims regarding the 1933 $20 gold coins, which were initially alleged to be stolen and later asserted as “never issued.” The argument suggests that some coins were indeed issued, and the notion of them being “never monetized” is dismissed as misleading. The comparison is drawn with situations where Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) employees unlawfully take sheets of $100 bills, and the government contends that they have stolen the face value in money despite these bills being “never monetized.”

Legality of possessing the 1933 double eagles.

emphasizing that they were never officially “monetized” and were considered illegal to possess. The exchange involving McCann and Switt is viewed as a conspiracy to defraud the government. The absence of a paper trail is highlighted, and it is suggested that had the exchange been legal, a dated receipt would likely have been kept.

The term “monetize” is criticized as a fraudulent concept invented by the government to mislead those unfamiliar with mint operations. The argument posits that the term is meaningless and wouldn’t have prevented the 1933 double eagles from being paid out under the law of February 1873. The explanation of “monetize” is provided, referring to the orderly transition of business within the Treasury, emphasizing that it did not affect the distribution of coins to collectors.

According to the government’s assertion, coins are not officially considered as such until they undergo “monetization” by being released to the Federal Reserve. However, if this claim holds true and given that the Federal Reserve was established in 1913, it raises the question of why individuals were able to directly exchange gold for coins or swap old coins for new ones at the US Mint’s Cashier. In 1933, the legal dynamics surrounding gold transactions differed significantly from the present-day legal framework. During March 1933, depositors of gold possessed the legal entitlement to bring their gold to the Mint and, in return, receive gold coins. If a switch occurred during this process without proper documentation, the superintendent might have faced minor consequences, but nothing more. The legality of such exchanges remained intact until 1944, when the government unilaterally deemed them illegal and seized the specimen during the Stack’s sale.

Considering this historical context, questioning why Izzy would have needed a receipt for a transaction that, eleven years later, the government declared illegal becomes pertinent. When the government melted the 1933 double eagles, they received the precise amount of gold anticipated. During that period, each double eagle was considered equivalent in value to every other double eagle. Therefore, the exchange involved substituting an 1870-CC double eagle for a 1928 double eagle, both being perceived as equal in value by the government, the exchange was deemed acceptable.

Tripp admits that he has seen no written rule or regulation requiring the Mint cashier to keep records having this level of detail, e.g., records tracking coins by date. (Tr. 213, at 177–79). Regardless, these records do, in fact, exist. Furthermore, Mint employees were held personally responsible for missing money, which would have given the cashier an incentive to keep detailed records accounting for every last dollar. (Tr. 208, at 180).


Any potential discrepancies in gold amounts would have triggered investigation in 1933 itself. The government’s assertion that the coins were stolen during the Denver ANA event lacks substantiated evidence, raising questions about the validity of such claims. If any theft did occur in 1933, the statute of limitations, after 75 years, prompts consideration. The legality for the Mint to issue gold coins in exchange for bullion, even in coin form, persisted until early April 1933, further emphasizing the nuances of the legal landscape during that time.

As previously mentioned, the jury’s decision establishes that the ’33 Double Eagles in question were either stolen or embezzled from the Mint. Consequently, holding the true ownership of the pilfered coins, the United States of America, in its capacity as the property owner rather than the prosecutor, possesses superior title compared to the Claimants. This holds true even if the Langbords (or Israel Switt before them) happen to be legitimate purchasers for value of the ’33 Double Eagles. Therefore, we assert:

The contested Double Eagles were unlawfully taken from the United States Mint, and as a matter of legal principle, they remain the property of the United States. This assertion remains valid regardless of (1) the applicability of CAFRA to the disputed Double Eagles, (2) the Claimants’ state of mind regarding the coins, or (3) the manner in which the coins came into the possession of the Claimants.

Smithsonian 1933 Double Eagle Gold Coin Across Europe in 2012.

The coin that will be on display during the exhibition is one of two specimens transferred to the Smithsonian Institution as part of the United States’ historical heritage in 1933.

Here’s a list of the tour stops and their respective dates:

  1. London: Goldsmith’s Hall, March 2-5.
  2. Dublin: Irish Museum of Modern Art, March 5-8.
  3. Brussels: Royal Library of Belgium, March 8-11.
  4. Prague: National Museum, March 11-15.
  5. Warsaw: National Museum, March 15-18.
  6. Oslo: Museum of Cultural History, March 19-23.
  7. Helsinki: National Museum, March 28-30.
  • The European Tour: In March, curator Karen Lee and senior curator Dr. Richard Doty of the museum’s National Numismatic Collection will take this iconic coin on a trans-European tour. The tour represents an unprecedented opportunity to share this piece of American history with international audiences. The coin will visit some of Europe’s most renowned museums, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with this numismatic treasure.
  • Preparations for the Tour: Preparations for the European tour have been meticulous and included addressing various logistical challenges. Ensuring the security of the coin during its journey, customs clearance, language translations, and, importantly, keeping the Plexiglass bracket housing the coin clean have been part of the preparations. The static attraction of Plexiglass can be a challenge, making regular cleaning essential for a clear viewing experience.
  • An International Collaboration: The European tour of the 1933 double eagle is a testament to international collaboration and the shared appreciation of numismatic history. It is a historic moment for the Smithsonian and a unique opportunity to extend outreach to European audiences.
  • The Journey Begins: The European tour kicks off at Goldsmith’s Hall in London, where the coin will be on public display. From there, it will travel to Dublin, Brussels, Prague, Warsaw, Oslo, and Helsinki. Each stop provides an opportunity for people to witness this legendary coin.

1933 Double Eagle Launch at Goldsmiths’ Hall, London.

The world’s most expensive gold coin ever to be showcased graced Goldsmiths’ Hall in London on March 3 and 4 2012. The 1933 Double Eagle holds legendary status among coin collectors, perhaps representing the most valuable ounce of gold worldwide. This iconic coin has ignited passions among royalty, presidents, avid collectors, and even daring thieves. Back in 2002, a 1933 Double Eagle commanded an astounding $7.6 million in an auction, setting the record as the world’s most expensive gold coin up to that point. The coin on display in London is part of the select group of 1933 Double Eagles globally recognized and has never been put up for auction. It is a remarkable piece of numismatic history that continues to captivate enthusiasts from all walks of life.

This coin is not merely a rarity; it’s also a work of art, sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the Art Deco style. It was a part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision to transform American coins into exquisite objects. Furthermore, it carries historical significance, being issued during a banking crisis and a presidential transition. When President Roosevelt temporarily closed all banks for over a week and recalled existing gold coins for melting, this coin defied the odds, with two making their way to the Smithsonian and a few into the wider world. A relentless pursuit by the American Secret Service led to the retrieval of most of these coins. However, one evaded capture and was later auctioned for a staggering sum.

Double Eagle coin on display in Poland.

The Warsaw exhibition is part of the European tour, which will start on March 3, 2012, in the United Kingdom. During the month-long journey, the Double Eagle will be showcased in seven European capitals. The Double Eagle tour is organized by Samlerhuset Group BV, a part of which is the National Treasury, in cooperation with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. For the first time in history, the Smithsonian Institute allows the organization of an exhibition of this valuable coin in Europe.

In 1933, almost half a million Double Eagle coins were minted, but only 13 pieces have survived until modern times. The rest were melted down before they could circulate. They were turned into gold bars and stored in the Fort Knox vault, all to help the United States recover from the Great Depression. Currently, only one Double Eagle is in private ownership, with the rest of the known specimens belonging to the U.S. government. Secret Service agents diligently track any reports of additional Double Eagle coins and are prepared to pursue any found specimens.

“This is the first official Double Eagle exhibition in Europe. This coin is one of the most fascinating elements in American numismatic history. That’s why we are delighted to host it in Warsaw. Thanks to the presented collection, visitors will have a unique opportunity to learn about the rich history of American currency and see this beautiful and precious specimen with their own eyes,”

Adam Zieliński, Managing Director of the National Treasury, the organizer of the exhibition.

The 1933 Double Eagle is also a symbol of the struggles with the global economy, both those of the early 20th century and the present. We are pleased to provide one of Smithsonian’s most valuable treasures to visitors in Europe for an unprecedented tour.

Marc Patcher, Director of the National Museum of American History

On the obverse of the coin, they placed the personification of the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas. She was depicted as a woman holding an olive branch, symbolizing victory, in her left hand and a torch in her right. The coin’s reverse featured an eagle in flight against the backdrop of a rising sun. The coins had a face value of 20 dollars, hence the name Double Eagle – double because traditional 10-dollar coins were called Eagles.

Adam Zieliński of the National Treasury.

National Treasury Sp. z o.o. is a part of the international Samlerhuset Group BV. Samlerhuset Group is a leading European distributor of commemorative coins and medals, headquartered in Amsterdam, with subsidiaries in several countries, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, China, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, and Belgium. They offer numismatic programs for over 50 countries and are the official distributor for European Olympic Games coins from Vancouver (2010) and London (2012). For more information, please visit www.samlerhuset.no.

Stop in Ireland

The exhibition, held at the Baroque Chapel in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) on Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, allowed visitors to witness the world’s most valuable gold coin and explore its captivating history. It was open to the general public between 12 pm and 8 pm on Tuesday, March 6, and from 10 am to 4 pm on Wednesday, March 7, offering a unique opportunity to appreciate the coin’s beauty and historical significance. Admission to the exhibition was free, making it an exceptional opportunity for all to experience this numismatic treasure.

The Belgian Mint and the Smithsonian managed to include a Belgian stop in the tour, organized for the first time across a few European countries. This exceptional coin, steeped in numismatic legend, graced the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels on March 9th, from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm, and on March 10th, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. The unique history behind this coin is a significant factor contributing to its exceptional value.

Double Eagle 1933: Legendary Gold Coin Shines at the Royal Library of Belgium.

The Belgian Mint and the Smithsonian managed to include a Belgian stop in the tour, organized for the first time across a few European countries. This exceptional coin, steeped in numismatic legend, graced the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels on March 9th, from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm, and on March 10th, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. The unique history behind this coin is a significant factor contributing to its exceptional value.


Do 1933 Double Eagles were available for exchange at the mint in 1933??

The idea that a visitor to the Treasury or Mint could purchase a 1933 Double Eagle has been previously discussed; however, no 1933 Double Eagles were actually sent to the Treasury. The second suggestion, that the Mint legitimately supplied 1933 Double Eagles to interested institutions or individuals as it had in previous years, lacks support in the available records. On February 23, 1933, the Treasury dispatched the final batch of Double Eagles, just a brief two weeks before FDR’s proclamation. There is no record of any gold coins, regardless of their date, being bought, exchanged, or dispatched after March 6, 1933, as such actions would have constituted a violation of the law.

There were no authorizations for the Mint to distribute them for payment, and once more, the Mint’s records stand out for their precision. The investigation by the Secret Service revealed that Messrs. McCann and Switt had also transacted with quantities of 1931 and 1932 Double Eagles, prompting investigators to scrutinize the official releases for these particular dates as well.

No 1933 Double Eagles could have been obtained in this manner;

This practice was believed to have contributed to the survival of the 1933 Double Eagles. As Israel Switt claimed that he obtained his Double Eagle 1933 specimens through an exchange at the mint. Naturally, this practice was a tradition. Many collections began or significantly expanded—like the John H. Clapp collection—thanks to exchanges or purchases made at the Mint. It involved swapping an old, worn coin for a freshly minted, uncirculated one from the current year.

“In 1933 following the striking of several hundred thousand pieces for circulation, it would have been possible for a visitor to the Treasury Department or to the Mint to have obtained one by paying face value for it. It was common practice, for example, for the curator to provide specimens to various museum, university, and other collections. At least two examples of the 1927-D double eagle were distributed this way during the year of issue.”

Q. David Bowers, United States Gold Coins: An Illustrated History, 1982

In early 1933, until around March 3rd or 4th, visitors to the Philadelphia Mint could exchange old gold coins for new ones. However, the available 1933 gold coins were limited to Eagles (the final ones were minted on March 3), as the Double Eagles hadn’t been produced yet, as the first 20 dollar 1933 struck at the US Mint, started only 24 hours before on 2 March 1933.

Roosevelt’s edicts forbade pay-out of gold coins from Monday March 6th onward (and as we’ve seen the first 1933 Double Eagles were not even struck until March 15th, the first 25,000 coins batch struck). Although we now know this wasn’t the case

The Mint maintained meticulous records, as highlighted in an April 7, 1944 Secret Service report concerning the stolen 1933 Double Eagles. The records for the 1933 Eagles—the only legally issued 1933 gold coins—are notably detailed.

For the 1933 eagle (the 10 dollars ones) :

  • 312,500 1933 eagle were struck (six delivery dates from January 19-March 3, 1933);
  • 100 1933 eagle were sent to the Treasury (effectively issued for circulation);
  • 211933 eagle were destroyed during Assay;
  • 1 was “Paid for deposit or exchanged for currency” (meaning someone bought a new coin with an old coin—on March 1, 1933);
  • The remaining 312,378 were all accounted for on September 13, 1934 as available for melting.
What is the story behind the recall of gold coins in 1933?

The 1933 recall of gold coins stands as a pivotal moment in U.S. history, signifying the conclusion of Congress’s authorization of circulating gold currency. That year, the U.S. Mint ceased producing gold coins, and any double eagles minted were never intended for public circulation. Instead, they were slated to be melted down into bullion and sent to Fort Knox. Nevertheless, a handful of 1933 Double Eagles evaded this fate, secretly concealed for decades. This recall marked a shift away from the gold standard, followed by the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. This legislation mandated the transfer of all gold and gold certificates held by the Federal Reserve solely to the United States Department of the Treasury. It also barred the redemption of dollar bills for gold by the Treasury and financial institutions, essentially ending public possession of gold, except for jewelry and collector’s coins. The recall of gold coins in 1933 had a significant impact on the US economy. It was part of the country’s transition away from the gold standard, and it marked the end of the era in which the US Congress authorized circulating gold coinage. The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 prohibited the Treasury and financial institutions from redeeming dollars for gold, effectively ending the ability of the American people to hold gold, with the exception of jewelry and collectors’ coins. The act also authorized the president to establish the gold value of the dollar by proclamation, which led to the deliberate devaluation of the dollar. These actions were aimed at increasing the supply of credit, stabilizing domestic prices, and protecting foreign commerce against the adverse effects of depreciated foreign currencies. The recall of gold coins and the subsequent measures taken had a lasting legacy, shaping the country’s monetary policy and the use of gold in the years that followed

How many 1933 St gaudens twenty dollars coins have been sold at auction?

Only one 1933 double eagle coin has been sold at auction twice. The first sale occurred on July 30, 2002, at a Stacks Bowers auction held in New York, where the coin was sold to an anonymous bidder for $6.6 million, plus a 15-percent buyer’s premium, and an additional $20 needed to “monetize” the face value of the coin so it would become legal currency, bringing the final sale price to $7,590,020.00. The second sale took place on June 8, 2021, at a Sotheby’s auction, where the very same 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle was sold for $18,872,250, becoming the world’s most valuable coin ever sold at auction.

How many 1933 double eagle coins exist?

Although 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens double eagle were minted in 1933, none were ever officially circulated, and all but two were ordered to be melted down. However, 20 to 25 more are known to have been rescued from melting by being stolen and found their way into the hands of collectors before later being recovered. Currently, with the exception of the one sold on July 30, 2002, 1933 double eagle coins cannot be the legal possession of any member of the public, as they were never issued and hence remain the property of the United States government. Therefore, the total number of 1933 double eagle coins that exist is 13, with 2 being held in the U.S. National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, 10 by the US goverment and 1 in private hands.

What is the weight of 1933 $20 gold coin?

The 1933 $20 gold coin, also known as the “1933 liberty 20 dollar” or “1933 Double Eagle“, weighs approximately 33.436 grams. This weight corresponds to about 0.9675 ounces of gold, as these coins are composed of 90% gold and 10% copper. Measuring 34 mm in diameter, these coins are highly sought after by collectors and investors due to their historical significance and rarity.

How many 1933 coins were believe to survive the melting??

Initially believed to be surviving in only two pieces (out of the 445,500 originally minted before the executive order halted the gold standard, with the rest melted down), 20 or 25 suvived the melting.

Is the 1933 liberty $20 dollar gold coin the america’s most valuable coin ?

Yes. Since the 2021 record-setting auction, the most valuable coin in the world is officialy the 1933 Double Eagle, which is considered the world’s rarest and most valuable gold coin. Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, it depicts Lady Liberty on the obverse and an eagle in flight on the reverse. Due to the suspension of gold payments during the Great Depression, the entire mintage was ordered to be melted down, but a few coins escaped this fate and have since become some of the world’s most valuable coins The second most valuable coin in America is the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. It was considered the most expensive coin ever sold until 2021, with fewer than 1,800 of these coins ever produced, and only between 120 and 130 remaining. These coins are highly sought after by collectors and investors due to their rarity and historical significance.

Is it illegal to own a 1933 double eagle coin?

Yes, it is illegal to own a 1933 Double Eagle coin, with the exception of one coin that was authorized for private ownership by the United States Government. The reason for this is that none of the coins were officially released to the public, and the government has held since at least 1944 that 1933 Double Eagles are illegal to own Although there were allegedly three weeks in March 1933 when new double eagles could possibly have been legally obtained, the Mint records clearly show that no 1933 double eagles were issued. The only 1933 Double Eagle that can be legally owned comes with an official Certificate of Transfer that makes the coin legal to own.

Could a 1933 double coins ever released to individuals??

No, the 1933 double eagle gold coins were never officially released to individuals and none were relaeased through exchange. Mint records clearly establish that no 1933 $20 Double Eagles were ever issued or released to the public as legal tender. The only specimens to leave the Mint lawfully were two 1933 Double Eagles provided to the U.S. National Numismatic Collection. The 1933 double eagle is among the most valuable of U.S. coins, with the sole example currently known to be in private hands selling in 2002 for $7,590,020.

How much is a 1933 double eagle coin worth??

A 1933 Double Eagle gold coin sold for a record-setting $18.9 million at auction in New York, and the world’s rarest stamp went for $8.3 million. This extraordinary coin resurfaced in Europe during the late 1990s, sparking a legal dispute over ownership. Despite the coin’s authorization to leave the United States in the late 1940s, the matter of its ownership became contentious. Nevertheless, it eventually found its way to Sotheby’s, and from there, it made its way to Great Collections Coin Auctions. The coin arrived securely in its original holder from the capital plastics, which was entrusted to PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) for authentication and grading. PCGS ensured the utmost security during this process, a task made easier due to the close proximity of the auction house to PCGS facilities. The USA Coin Book estimated the value of a 1933 Saint Gaudens Gold $20 Double Eagle to be worth $21,602,542 or more in uncirculated (MS+) mint condition

Update 23/06/2024.

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6 responses to “☆ 1933 double eagle gold coin.”

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  1. Czar ·

    So, I snagged this gem from a used book shop—it’s a real page-turner! The book dives into this wild story about the government not really knowing how many of these double eagles were swiped from the mint. Apparently, they made a bunch but were supposed to melt them down. Turns out, 20 went AWOL, and some got into the hands of a sneaky jeweler who sold off nine back in the 1940s. Then, plot twist: his daughter found ten more in his safe deposit box in 2004, but the government swooped in and claimed ’em. Now, only one from 1933 is allowed to be legally sold, and that’s Weitzman’s. But hold up, if the jeweler sold nine, there should be eight others floating around, right? This whole saga’s got me thinking there’s still a mystery waiting to be unraveled out there!

    1. Alexandre Laurent

      That whole saga around those double eagles is a real head-scratcher, right? It’s crazy to think that there might still be some of those elusive coins out there, floating around somewhere. Who knows, maybe someone’s got a hidden stash waiting to be discovered!

  2. Frank

    Stolen from our family in 1953

    1. Alexandre Laurent

      Hello, you are descendant from Izzy Switt ?

  3. Undercover

    In 1933, the $20 double eagle coin met a peculiar fate. It never entered circulation because that was the year when gold coin circulation came to an end, and people were required to turn in all gold coins, excluding collectibles. Out of the 1933 double eagle coins, only two were spared from the melting process and found their way to the National Numismatic Collection.

    Nonetheless, approximately 20 of these coins did not originally meet the melting pot in 1934 due to various reasons, including theft. Subsequently, nine of these coins were recovered but later melted down during the 1950s. This left us with a total of 11 known coins, as well as an undisclosed number, marked as ‘x’, whose whereabouts were a mystery. One of these coins found its place in Egypt’s King Farouk’s collection. However, when his reign was overthrown in 1952, the United States requested the coin’s return, but it disappeared.

    A collector came forward with a coin in the 1990s, eventually admitting it was from King Farouk’s collection, though this assertion was never verified. This coin was auctioned in 2002, with half of the proceeds going to the US Treasury and an additional $20 to monetize it, while the remaining half went to the collector.

    In 2005, another remarkable discovery was made when ten more double eagle coins were found and connected to Switt, the individual who had spared some from being melted. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided that these coins were the property of the US government, and they are now securely stored at Fort Knox. The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on this Circuit court ruling. Consequently, if the number of unknown coins (x) is greater than zero, they are deemed the property of the US government and effectively hold no commercial value. However, it’s possible that some collectors might still find value in owning one, even if their status becomes publicly known.

    Given the negligible commercial value of these coins following the court rulings, the possibility of one being tucked away in a treasure chest slightly increases. Alternatively, someone could keep such a coin within their family, passing it down through the generations, until such time that the United States no longer exists, and the title officially transfers to them. There may be a case to be made that the government’s actions in this regard were unconstitutional. If the court system lacks the moral clarity and determination to hold them accountable now, it could happen in the future.

    1. Alexandre Laurent

      During the 1940s, Israel Switt was the individual responsible for circulating a significant number of the 1933 double eagle coins. Nearly all of them, with the exception of one that was known to have been exported to Egypt, were located. Authorities thoroughly examined all of his safe deposit boxes, and to their surprise, they uncovered an additional 10 coins—another 10 1933 double eagles—in one of those boxes. It’s quite possible that more of these rare coins are still being kept in secret, passed down through generations.




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