☆ 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.

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. Accordingly on February 29, 1944, Export License TGL-11-170 was issued. 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. However, amidst World War II, there wasn’t much room for pressing matters. And there it remained until 1952 when Farouk was overthrown in a coup. His coin collection was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in London, including the Double Eagle. 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.

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

That year, the Secret Service received a rumor that the coin was in the United Kingdom. So, they launched a covert operation to deceive the owner, a London dealer named Stephen Fenton, and have it brought to American soil. 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. The conflict wasn’t resolved until 2001. 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.

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. During the auction, the Mint levied an extra $20 fee on the buyer, as if they were purchasing a new coin in 1933. The 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 tthe story.

2021: The Farouk 1933 Double Eagle back for sale!

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.

Double Eagle’ 1933 gold coin sells for a world record $18.9M 

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

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.

List of all 1933 $20 gold coins seized by the government:

  • Max Bernstein
  • J. F. Bell
  • Fred C.C. Boyd
  • T. James Clarke
  • Charles Williams
  • James Stack
  • Col. James W. Flanagan
  • L.G. Barnard
  • 1 from Stephen Fenton (Sized but later Resolved)
  • 10 coins from Langboard family

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.


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 30/04/2024.

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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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