British dealer handles two illegal U.S. coins
- Published: Jun 22, 2018, 9 AM
In all of the recent news about the 1933 double eagles, another coin U.S. government officials would likely seek to confiscate if any surfaced — the 1964-D Peace dollar — has been neglected somewhat. After all, Mint officials claim all were melted. But were they?
Dealer Richard Lobel, from Coincraft in London, says he not only examined a 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle at a dealer’s shop in Switzerland more than four decades ago, he also examined a 1964-D Peace dollar.
While Mint officials have said for decades that all of the 1964-D Peace dollars struck in 1965 at the Denver Mint were destroyed, some numismatists have said they have either seen an example or know someone who claimed a sighting.
It should also be noted that, for years, Mint officials also believed that all of the 1933 double eagles had been destroyed, except for the two the Mint turned over to the Smithsonian Institution. However, at least 25 examples of the 1933 coin entered the marketplace despite government efforts to melt them all.
Inside Coin World: What causes these unusual errors? Coins struck by dual misaligned dies and coins with adjustment marks are among the subjects of our columns this week, found exclusively in the print and digital editions of Coin World.
Lobel said that his sighting of both a 1933 gold double eagle and a 1964 silver dollar occurred more than 40 years ago when business took him to a dealer’s shop in Zurich.
“He showed me and let me hold not only a 1933 Double Eagle but also a 1964 Silver Dollar,” Lobel told Coin World via email. “In those days there wasn’t the craziness of grading and slabbing coins that there is today, coins were meant to be touched and handled.
“I may have been mistaken, but I am sure that he told me that his specimen was from King Farouk. If that was true [or] not, I cannot say, but for sure it was a real 1933 $20.00 piece. The only dealer I could have asked to confirm it, (Hans M. F. Schulman) is also unfortunately no longer with us. But I know that I did buy a group of dies that were used to strike coins for King Farouk from Hans. They were sitting in a duty free zone in Basel, Switzerland for years and years.”
Did the Swiss dealer make Lobel an offer to buy the two coins?
“At the time I did not have the money nor would I have known where to sell the coins,” Lobel said. “The dealer didn’t want to sell them, he was just showing off, but in a nice way. Showing a young and inexperienced dealer two wonderful coins.”
1964-D Peace dollars were struck in 1965 in response to congressional orders to produce new silver dollars. The Treasury Department’s once-vast holdings of silver dollars were being depleted as citizens traded their silver certificates for the coins at face value. After the coins were struck, the government decided to begin removing silver from U.S. coinage and the dollars were never released.
What has been identified as the Farouk 1933 coin publicly surfaced Feb. 8, 1996, when it was seized by the Secret Service during a sting operation in New York City. The Farouk piece was sold July 30, 2002, by Sotheby’s in conjunction with Stack’s, as settlement of litigation between the Mint and British dealer Stephen Fenton who imported the gold piece. The auction realized $7.59 million.
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