Paul is a senior editor and has been a member of the Coin World staff since 1988. Paul covers the U.S. Mint beat and has memorably reported for more than two decades on many of the hobby's most important stories, including the record sale of the Farouk/Fenton 1933 double eagle and the protracted legal proceedings of the Langbord 1933 double eagles. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and collects autographs and memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show.
Show us the assets!
Collectors and others who attended the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money August 1 to 5 in Denver had the opportunity to see a 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagle exhibited by the U.S. Mint. In fact two of them.
The venue also served as the stage to display of the lone known example of an aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent that Mint officials claim was never officially authorized to have been struck.
The numismatic items are among tens of thousands of items that constitute what the Mint calls its “heritage assets.”
The two 1933 double eagles are among 10 secured at the Fort Knox Gold Bullion Depository in Kentucky that the Mint “recovered” in 2005 after those in possession sent them to the Mint for authentication.
After years of litigation leading all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the government was awarded ownership of the 10 double eagles, all of which were put on display in 2006 by the U.S. Mint at the ANA convention in Denver.
Only three other examples are publicly known – two in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and the purported King Farouk I coin, sold for $7,590,020 in 2002 and the only example deemed legal to own.
The examples at the Smithsonian have been on public display off and on. The purported Farouk coin is on display at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The 1974-D aluminum cent was returned to the Mint in March 2016 after originally being given to a former Denver Mint deputy superintendent upon his retirement in 1980, a transfer U.S. Mint officials dispute.
The U.S. Mint holds thousands of examples of “heritage assets” across the country. Some are on public display on the self-guided public tour at the Philadelphia Mint and guided tour at the Denver Mint.
The San Francisco and West Point Mints as well as Fort Knox are off-limits to public access, but boast exhibits in their offices, hallways and common areas. Most items are hidden and haven’t seen the light of day since being placed into storage.
These "heritage assets” include experimental, test and trial strikes of U.S. and foreign coins, U.S. medals, plaster models, galvanoes, production tooling, design sketches, and other materials associated with coin and medal production.
The U.S. Mint sparingly has brought select materials out of the dark for display at ANA conventions, but those times have been few and far between.
Since 2008, U.S. Mint Curator Robert Goler has spearheaded the documenting of 50,000 to 70,000 items that constitute the heritage assets that are added to on an almost daily basis.
The goal, according to U.S. Mint officials, is to one day display some of the assets on a rotating basis to showcase the Mint's rich history.
Let’s hope that the Mint follows through — and soon.