Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Pinnacle of Coin Collecting: The 1933 Gold Double Eagle

The most sought-after coin in coin collecting history is probably the 1933 Gold Double Eagle. Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin sold in 2002 for the highest price in the world ever paid for a coin. How much? It was sold for a staggering $7.5 million.

But this coin has quite the history behind its hefty price tag. In 1933, 450,000 were minted, but none were actually put into circulation because of the currency law changes made when FDR took America off the Gold Standard to stabilize the economy. Since there would be no more gold currency, the U.S. melted down the 1933 lot of the Gold Double Eagles, and in turn, converted them into gold bullion bars by 1937.

There were a few that escaped the big melt down. A Philadelphia jeweler named Israel Switt somehow came into possession of 19 Gold Double Eagle coins in his coin collection. He ended up selling 9 of the coins to private collectors, including to King Farouk of Egypt. When the secret service found out about these rogue coins, they ordered them to be confiscated, as the coins were seen as stolen property of the U.S. Mint. The king ended up exporting his coin, (legally) before the theft was discovered and the secret service was never able to recover it. After the king was deposed in 1952, his coin appeared on the market and vanished again when someone caught wind that the Secret Service wanted to confiscate it. More than 40 years later, a British coin collector showed up with it in New York and it was recovered thanks to a sting operation.

And who says coin collecting isn’t exciting?


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