Kenneth Goldman is a longtime dealer, operating as Kenneth Goldman
Inc. in Needham, Mass. He began collecting coins when he was 6 years old.
all the recent news on the case of the 1933 gold $20 double eagles, I
have decided to share some of my own experiences with these coins,
including how I actually had one of these coins in my hand, some years ago.
experience was a near miss in the late 1970s. Another coin dealer
offered me a 1932 double eagle, which I bought for around $18,000 or
so. In 1933, the past owner went to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. He
wanted to buy a 1933 gold $10 eagle and a 1933 gold $20 coin from the
Mint. He was able to buy the $10 coin and he saw the 1933 $20 coins
piled up on the back table. Unfortunately, the person at the Mint said
that the $20 coins were not released yet; he was able to buy the 1932
double eagle, which I later bought.
couple of years earlier, I actually had a 1933 $20 double eagle in my
hands — for a couple of minutes. I remember quite clearly that this
was at the Long Beach Expo in California. I was walking around the
floor when a prominent dealer from Texas came over to me. I clearly
remember his words to me: “Hey, Goldman. Do you want to see a coin
that will make the entire coin show stop?”
thought for a minute as to what this could be and said, “Sure, what do
you have?” He promptly handed me an envelope which was typewritten
with something like “1898-S $20 Gold.” My thoughts were that I was
being played here, so I continued on with what I thought was a joke. I
opened up the envelope and out came a Saint-Gaudens double eagle,
reverse facing up. Again, I thought, “What can be so special about an
Unc. $20 Saint?” The entire process probably took less than two
minutes, but it seemed things were going in somewhat slow motion.
I picked up the coin by the edge and turned it over. Imagine my
surprise when I saw that this “ordinary coin” was dated 1933! I
remember smiling and asking something like “Tell me about this” or
similar. I never got an answer except advice to keep this quiet.
I knew the history and the illegality of this coin, but I never
thought I would have one in my hand. I walked away, thought for a
minute, and continued on my way at the convention. I felt that I was
very lucky to see one of these in person.
have not relayed this story until David Tripp wrote the book
Illegal Tender—Gold, Greed & the Mystery of the Lost 1933
Double Eagle where part of this story was told. In that book,
you can see an undated photo of a 1933 double eagle and my comments
that this coin in the photo was probably the coin I had in my hand,
and this coin was different from the one that was sold in the
Sotheby’s auction for over $7 million.
was quiet for some time. Then the book produced another interesting
part of this story. I was at home one day, when I got a phone call. It
was from the FBI, asking about the 1933 double eagle. I related the
story exactly as above and mentioned the name of the dealer who showed
me the coin. Unfortunately, the dealer had passed away by the time of
the FBI’s call to me. They asked if I had bought the coin. I related
that I was in my 20s at that time and I did not have anywhere near the
money that this coin would have been worth. As well, I knew of the
questionable nature of owning such a coin, so I did not even attempt
to ask a price on this. Where the coin is today is unknown to me, but
I imagine that it is hidden in a collection somewhere.
David Akers always said that there were other 1933 $20 double eagles
in Europe. David was never one to make up stories, so my thoughts were
that he was speaking from experience.