US Coins

No 1933 double eagles at ANA convention

The U.S. Mint has back-pedaled on displaying at the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Aug. 14 to 18 any of the 11 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagles in its custody.

Images by Coin World Senior Editor Paul Gilkes.

The U.S. Mint apparently won’t be displaying any of the 11 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagles currently in its custody when the American Numismatic Association holds its World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia Aug. 14 to 18.

Thomas V. Johnson, director of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications, says an “organizational decision” was made recently by Mint officials not to bring any of the gold pieces to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for public display.

Greg Weinman, the Mint’s chief legal counsel, had announced May 10 during a presentation at the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists banquet concerning the history behind the 1933 double eagles that plans were being made to bring 10 1933 gold pieces to the ANA convention. The same 10 coins were put on public display by the Mint during the World’s Fair of Money in Denver in 2006.

The Mint also possesses another 1933 double eagle, turned in by a collector. The 10 gold pieces were the subject of protracted litigation that ended in 2017 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal from a 2011 jury trial. Possession of the gold pieces was awarded to the federal government. 

They were discovered in 2003 corrected from 2004 in a bank safe deposit box in Pennsylvania by Joan Switt Langbord, daughter of Philadelphia jeweler and professional numismatist Israel Switt.

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The 10 gold pieces were turned over to the Mint in 2004 through the Secret Service for authentication. The Mint announced in 2005 that the 10 gold pieces had been “recovered” and refused to return the 1933s to Langbord. The government argued in its litigation and the trial jury concurred that the 10 1933s were illegal to own because they had not been officially released into commerce channels by the Mint.

Switt was purported to have handled 25 1933 double eagles, 21 of which have been accounted for — nine of which were melted in the 1940s after being seized by or turned over to the Secret Service, the 10 Langbord pieces, the former King Farouk example that is the only 1933 legal to own, and the 21st piece having been turned over in recent years to the federal government by a collector who didn’t want to get caught with what government officials considered stolen property.

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Weinman had stated during his May 10 PAN presentation that the Mint knew of the whereabouts in the United States of another 1933 double eagle beyond the 10 already at Fort Knox but was not pursuing its recovery.

After Coin World published its coverage of Weinman’s presentation, Coin World was informed that the reason for not pursuing the 21st coin is that the Mint already has the piece in custody.

Mint officials have not disclosed who turned in the piece, nor when.

The surrendered piece, Coin World’s research determined, was sold privately nearly 40 years ago after having once been in the collection of noted numismatist Roy E. “Ted” Naftzger Jr.  

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