US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for June 4 2018

The U.S. Mint has had another 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle (shown here for the first time) in its possession for an undisclosed amount of time at the Fort Knox Gold Bullion Depository.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

That was unexpected. 

In my Editorial in the June monthly issue of Coin World, I wrote that new chapters were yet to be written in the saga of the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle. I made that statement after a U.S. Mint official revealed that he knew the location of another 1933 double eagle, but that the Mint would not be pursuing it. However, I did not expect that a new chapter would be written so soon.

Everyone read the Mint’s statement as suggesting that the coin was held in a private collection somewhere in the United States, and for some inexplicable reason, the Mint was simply going to ignore it. But that was not the case at all.

As Paul Gilkes reports this week, the United States Mint already has possession of the coin, which its owner turned over to the Mint in response to the legal fight over the 10 coins once held by the Langbord family and awarded to the government by a federal court.

When we first thought that Mint officials had apparently taken a hands-off approach on this mystery coin, we were surprised. So were others in the collector community, as was reflected in discussions in at least one online forum. It made no sense that the Mint would reverse its position and risk establishing a new standard for ownership. The Mint has been single-minded in its pursuit of the coins since 1944, when officials first became aware that some of the coins — which the Mint thought had all been destroyed — were trading in the marketplace. Since then, just one coin has been authorized for private ownership, the supposed King Farouk coin, now owned by an unnamed entity. 

The status of that coin, and of the Langbord pieces, seemed uncertain if the Mint was going to leave another specimen of the coin in a private collection untouched.

But now that we know the Mint already has the coin, that mystery is solved.

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A lot remains unknown about this new coin. The identity of the person who turned the coin in remains a secret. We also do not know when the coin was turned over to the Mint.

So, what is next? 

Four other examples of the 1933 double eagle apparently still hide in the numismatic underground, and with this latest news, it is even more unlikely that any of them will emerge into the light, though if any of the owners of these coins are reading this, Coin World would like to hear from you.  

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