The verdict is in. The famous 10 Langbord 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles are officially the property of the United States government. So said a Philadelphia jury on July 20, 2011.
So what happens now?
We understand that these exceptionally rare coins are currently being held at the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. But dealers, collectors and anyone with an interest in the numismatic history of the United States may have cause for concern.
On behalf of the entire numismatic community, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets Inc. has written to officials at the United States Department of the Treasury seeking assurance that these coins are provided with the utmost security and safekeeping, and that there is in place a long-term chain of command for their preservation.
We expressed our concern that these beautiful, historic works of art will not be afforded the care, protection and preservation necessary to ensure their viability for future generations. These 10 coins are national treasures and must be protected as such. It is troubling that there does not appear to be a definitive, on-going governmental authority that can assume knowledgeable responsibility for these coins.
These 10 coins provide a window into a pivotal period of U.S. and
world history — the Great Depression. They illustrate a defining
moment when our country’s economic structure changed in an effort to
refortify the basic underpinnings of the United States government. It
is especially appropriate to consider the importance of these historic
coins as the United States faces its current economic
While we believe there currently are those in the United States government who do appreciate the significance of these coins, statements such as those made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero, “… I don’t believe they’ll be melted down …” and Director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Public Affairs Tom Jurkowsky, “… A decision on where the coins will be stored or displayed has not been made, …” are troublesome and too vague to guarantee that systems are in place to ensure that these coins are protected from melting now and at any time in the future. These comments certainly do not inspire the confidence of the numismatic community that there is a plan in place for the conservation of these 10 exceptional specimens.
We have written to Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Treasurer of the United States Rosa Gumataotao Rios and Acting Director of the United States Mint Richard Peterson, requesting a prompt response to the numismatic community’s concern. And we have sent copies of this letter to Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, members of Congress with an interest in and understanding of what is at stake with regard to the 10 1933 gold $20 coins. We urge others in the numismatic community to write to them to also express their concerns.
In my opinion, our community must be assured in no uncertain terms that the 10 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles will not be melted — ever. Further, I would recommend that these unique coins be made available for appropriate educational displays.
Gary Adkins is the current chairman of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets Inc., the national trade association for rare coin, paper currency and precious metals industry. He is president of Gary Adkins Associates Inc., of Edina, Minn, and immediate past president of the Professional Numismatists Guild Inc. He is a newly elected board member of the American Numismatic Association.