US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for March 15, 2021: 1933 double eagle auction

The only 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle certified as legal to own by the U.S. government is coming to auction by Sotheby's in June.

Original images courtesy of Sotheby's.

The news that the only 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold double eagle certified for private ownership by the U.S. government will be offered at auction on June 8 is exciting.

The coin, often described as the “Farouk Specimen,” after Egyptian King Farouk who owned one of the double eagles, is identified as the property of Stuart Weitzman, who made his mark in the world of the fashion industry by designing shoes.

His identity was long guarded by Sotheby’s, which auctioned the coin on behalf of the U.S. government in 2002 when the coin set a then-record price of $7.6 million. The collector community speculated on the coin’s owner, wondering whether he was from the numismatic community or simply a rich connoisseur of rare objects.

Technically, the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is not rare. The Philadelphia Mint struck 445,000 of them in early 1933 before the new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued executive orders restricting Americans’ rights to own gold. The government has long stated that no 1933 double eagles were released legitimately, with the exception of a coin mistakenly granted an export license on behalf of the Egyptian government. Despite a government ban on releasing any of the coins, at least 20 entered the marketplace, with about half of them quietly but openly trading in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Two of the coins surfaced in 1944 — the coin that went to Farouk and a second one scheduled for a public auction by Stack’s a few weeks after the granting of the export license. When Mint officials were made aware of the Stack’s auction, they dug deeper into their records and determined that none of the coins should exist except for two in the Smithsonian collection.

The Farouk coin, once it resurfaced decades after its 1944 departure, and 10 coins held by the Philadelphia dealer who obtained the coins that left the Mint, were the subjects of long legal actions that we will not detail here.

The news that the coin is returning to market shines new light on the collector community in the broader community, which is good publicity. Now we wait until June 8 to see what it might sell for. In its first auction appearance, it realized $7.6 million. It has an estimate in the new auction of $10 million to $15 million.

Connect with Coin World:  
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Access our Dealer Directory  
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter


Community Comments