Joe O’Donnell, digital content producer, joined the Coin World editorial staff in 2014. Joe writes web content, manages Coin World’s social media accounts, compiles content for daily digital eNewsletters, and contributes on occasion to the print magazine. He has enjoyed interacting withCoin World readers while covering the sale of coins from the Saddle Ridge Hoard and the 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar releases.
1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle or 1913 Liberty nickel: Which is the 'holy grail'?
Facebook is great for hashing out great coin debates.
Earlier this week, Coin World Facebook fan Jack Kennedy posed the following question:
"What's the bigger holy grail: 1933 Saint-Gaudens or 1913 Liberty nickel?"
Kennedy is referring to the 1933 gold Saint-Gaudens double eagle—a coin that has been in the limelight recently with the recent news in the Langbord case—and the 1913 Liberty 5-cent coin with the "V" reverse, of which there are five known.
We put Kennedy's question to the entirety of our Facebook fandom, and here are a few of the responses we have received:
Sharon Campbell: "Saint-Gaudens"
Tony Turner: "1913 Liberty Nickel"
Jess Sutton: "1913 Liberty Nickel"
John Adams: "Of the choices, 1913 Liberty Nickel. We don't know how many 1933 Saint-Gaudens are out there, but we know there are only five 1913 Liberty Nickels. My actual answer would be 1964D Peace Dollar."
Lawrence St John: "1933 Saint-Gaudens."
Wiliam Kendig: "I would say they are the same. There are not many of these coins."
Jeremy Russell: "There are only 5 nickels and something like 12 Saint-Gaudens, so probably nickels."
Kathy Leaphart: "I would love to have either one technically the 1913 nickel isn't supposed to exist on the other hand the 1933 Saint was to be destroyed so neither should be in existence and anytime the government wants to they can step in and claim the coins!"
Billy Dellinger: "'33 for sure."
Bud Ward: "Saint"
Allen Knight: "The gold ones!"
Larry Thomas: "I've always been fascinated by the 1913 nickel"
Cody Iannelli: "Tough question. I've seen 2 of each yes 2. I would have to say the 1933 Saint-Gaudens. It is a coin I've heard about all of my life. But ultimately it's your opinion that's all you need to go by."
Alan Morgan: "The nickel should not have been made and took a coordinated effort within the mint to produce. The 33 Saint was produced in significant numbers with an unknown quantity being removed from the mint. Both examples could have undisclosed numbers hidden away, but in my opinion, the nickel takes the cup."
Jim VanderRoest: "A beautiful coin lawfully struck versus an ugly one surreptitiously struck 'at best'; no contest, the 1933 Saint!"
James Hyman: "1933 gold beauties"
Phil N. Molé: "Saint-Gaudens. It's gold, it's rare, and it's beautiful. The portrait of Liberty on a V nickel looks like that of an aging schoolteacher who had her side profile picture snapped at the very moment she was looking down to adjust her panty hose. Sorry, but you know that it's true."
Larry Edwards: "Saint-Gaudens"
Coin World Managing Editor Bill Gibbs then chimed in:
Coin World: "Lots of great comments on this post. Now I have a question of my own. The 1933 double eagles were struck legally, with authorization, yet the government maintains they are illegal to own, while the five 1913 Liberty Head nickels were struck without authorization and yet can be collected
Bill received even more responses:
Phil N. Molé: "In answer to that question, I cannot fully understand why the '13 Nickel is legal to own if the '33 double eagle is not. I guess the government may make a distinction that the '33 double eagle is legally government property since it was authorized to be struck and authorized for removal from circulation, so there is federal ownership implied in that case that wouldn't necessarily apply to a coin that was just struck on a whim without anyone's official sanction or involvement. But it's hard to shake the feeling that the fed's decision is at least a little capricious."
Alan Morgan: "I think they fall under the same legal ruling applied to pattern coins…"
James Hyman: "It probably has to do with the 1933 pieces being gold. But then the King Farouk piece should have also been deemed illegal."
Jim VanderRoest: "The government seems to have been more tolerant of private possession of "unauthorized" coins before the 1933 gold confiscation. Remember that under FDR, more than $100 face of gold was supposed to surrendered for FRNs. But the the nineteenth century restrikes, for example, never seemed to get the contraband treatment. I have to agree with whoever wrote in a coin book that melting all that US gold coinage was one of the greatest acts of official vandalism in history."
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