US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for May 21, 2018

The latest chapter in the saga of the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle was revealed in May by Greg Weinman, senior legal counsel of the Mint.

Foreground image by Coin World; background image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

The saga of the 1933 gold double eagle continues. As Paul Gilkes reports starting on Page 130 of the June monthly edition of Coin World, five examples of the coin the Mint says were stolen from the Philadelphia Mint and sold into the marketplace by a Philadelphia jeweler decades ago remain out there, somewhere, likely hidden in collections, trading quietly.

We have long known that some examples are unaccounted for. Indeed, longtime dealer Julian Leidman freely acknowledges being involved in a transaction for a 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle that is not among those in government custody (an even dozen) and is not the supposed Farouk piece, the only specimen of the coin authorized (however reluctantly) for personal ownership.

As much as the hobby knows, the Mint knows more — a lot more.

As Paul reports, Greg Weinman, senior legal counsel of the Mint, “knows the location of one in the United States, another reportedly is in Europe and a third is elsewhere, while the location of the remaining two is unknown.” Paul added, “Weinman said there are no current plans to have the Secret Service pursue any of the examples where the location is known.”

For the owner of the coin held in the United States, whose location the Mint knows, knowing that you do not have to start looking over your shoulder or expect “delivery” vans parked outside your home is scant relief. If you try to sell the coin, you can expect to hear the proverbial hard knock on your front door.

The dealer-collector community remains divided on whether the extant coins, and those sold in the marketplace before being confiscated and destroyed, should be/should have been legal for private ownership. Mint officials make some convincing arguments; so do some numismatists.

I suspect current owners of the five missing coins will remain in the numismatic underground, the prize in their collections never to be shown to anyone else, and almost certainly never to be offered in the marketplace openly; the path to confiscation starts there.

This has been a wonderfully complex, exciting story for Coin World’s writers and editors over the decades, and I suspect that more chapters remain to be written in the years to come.

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