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Did You Know?: The Story of the 1933 Double Eagle Coins


The week of August 14 I attended the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia. This is the largest coin show in the world and as usual there were amazing rarities on display.

One of the most interesting coins at the show were 3 examples of the 1933 St. Gaudens $20 gold coins. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, President Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1933 outlawing the possession of most U.S. gold coins. The recession brought about mass hoarding of gold coins and this action was thought to be hindering a recovery.

At the time the mint had produced over 445,000 1933 “Double Eagles”. The mint was ordered to destroy all of them but 2 specimens. An employee at the mint got word what was going on and walked out of the mint with a number of coins. They were fenced by local jeweler Israel Switt. In 1944 the government got word of this and confiscated 9 of them from him. These were subsequently destroyed. The tenth coin surfaced in 1996 from a private individual and was also confiscated. This coin was returned to the United States Mint and was sold at auction for $7,600,000. It is believed this coin came from the King Farouk of Egypt collection and was deemed legal to own when he acquired it.

Two years after the auction, the Switt estates’ heirs – the Langbord family, voluntarily surrendered the other ten 1933 Double Eagles to the U.S Government. They later sued the government for the return of the coins but lost the battle in 2011.

These pictures show me with three of the so called “remaining” coins. Are there more coins out there somewhere?

I hope what is left of the summer treats you well and that you tune in next month for another interesting column of “Did You Know….?

Stay tuned next month for more “Did You Know?” stories.

Kind regards,
Chris Seuntjens
Owner/President
Christopher’s Fine Jewelry and Rare Coins