gold double eagle
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The 1933 St. Gaudens Gold Double Eagle
One of the most important years for gold coins in the United States was 1933. It was the year of the last production of the St. Gaudens gold double eagle coin, and the year that the domestic gold standard was discontinued. There were exactly 445,500 1933 St. Gaudens gold double eagle coins minted, but none were ever legally circulated into the currency markets, and almost all of them were melted down shortly after production. Thus, this coin is very rare, and it is no wonder that one was purchased for $7.59 million in July 2002 at auction, which is the highest price ever paid for a single U.S. or any other coin at auction.
The 1930s experienced a bank crisis unmatched until more recent years. Trying to overcome this proved quite difficult, and it is what prompted the executive order that nullified gold as legal tender and actually outlawed the possession and circulation of gold that were not collectible coins. People were forced to turn in all non-collectible gold for an exchange of other forms of currency.
The 1933 St. Gaudens double eagle gold coin was minted after this executive order took place, and since they weren’t legal tender they were melted down and some were destroyed via testing. Two of these coins were presented to the U.S. National Numismatic Collection by the U.S. Mint, and they should be the only ones left.
However, 20 coins have been recovered so far, which were presumed to have been stolen by a cashier at the U.S. Mint known as George McCann. Nine of the coins ended up making it to collectors through a jeweler in Philadelphia by the name of Israel Switt. These coins made their way around the collectible gold coins markets for nearly a decade before the Secret Service even got wind of their being around. A reporter that was harmlessly checking into the history of the coins stumbled upon this information, and contacted the Mint for research. At this point, an official investigation began in 1944, and seven of the coins were turned over or seized within the first year. One coin remained in public possession until 1952, when it was also confiscated.
This was a big deal, as it was purchased by a king in Egypt who refused to return the coin under various circumstances. The coin was then sold at auction with his estate, to a Stephen Fenton who eventually got caught for owning the coin. The case went to court, and it was decided that the coin would be monetized and returned to the U.S. government, who would then sell it at auction. Half of the $7.59 million went to the Treasury, while the other half went to Fenton, who had the coin at the time it was confiscated. In August of 2005, another 10 coins were found in the estate of Israel Switt again and confiscated.
These only know 1933 St Gaudens $20 gold coins now reside at Fort Knox while legal challenges to their ownership are being decided by the courts.
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gold double eagle