US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 28, 2023: Recalling 9/11

The U.S. Mint sells bronze versions of the congressional gold medals marking the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Shown here is the medal for the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Original images courtesy of the United States Mint.

Most of the older (near age 70 years or so) readers of this Editorial remember where they were and what they were doing on Nov. 22, 1963, a day of infamy forever enshrined in American history. Even more readers remember where they were in 2001 on this edition’s equally tragic date, Sept. 11.

At Coin World on the morning of the attacks, we had wrapped up our weekly issue review and planning session. Editor Beth Deisher and I were in our post-staff-meeting meeting, when Paul Gilkes opened the door to tell us that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. A little bit later, he came back to let us know that a second plane had hit the other tower, and that they were terrorist attacks.

As we tried to learn more about the attacks (difficult because news websites were being overwhelmed with more traffic than they had bandwidth to handle), we also began working out our news coverage of the attacks.

We knew, for example, that Stack’s in New York City had an auction scheduled for that morning. Once we were able to contact the Stack family, we were informed that the sale had been postponed. So, too, were other upcoming auctions in New York City and elsewhere; air traffic was halted, making travel to attend the sales challenging.

We learned that the managers of the New York City International Numismatic Convention, conducted annually in January at the World Trade Center, were busy looking for an alternate site for 2002.

All United States Mint sites were shut down, and security increased, just in case.

At local coin shows the following weekend, gold was a hot commodity; the price of gold was erratic in the days that followed. Speculation was rife about the 12 tons of gold known to have been stored in vaults at the World Trade Center. Months later, bullion coins recovered from the wreckage were being marketed with special slab labels marking their 9/11 connection. Years afterward, Congress approved congressional gold medals marking the event; bronze versions can be purchased from the Mint today, some of the many numismatic mementos of the attacks. Another day of infamy that will never be forgotten.
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