thatcoinguy's Blog

26 Aug 2021

The St. Gaudens 1933 Double Eagle: Part One

Coins | thatcoinguy

Originally, the 1933 double eagle was supposed to be a common circulating coin in commerce. There were 445,500 originally made in 1932, and they were set to release in early 1933. But before they could be released, the current president at the time (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), signed Executive Order 9102, in an attempt to end the 1930s bank crisis, which was caused by hoarding of coins. It outlawed the possession of gold coins made for circulation, with an exception for pieces made for collectors. All of the 1933 double eagles were supposedly melted except for two, which went to the Smithsonian National Institute. Were they all melted? Unbeknownst to the general public, 20 more of the gold coins (probably stolen by the US Mint chassier) survived and ended up in the hands of coin dealer Israel Switt, who sold the coins off individually to collectors.

The coins were kept in private collections for a few years until the Secret Service learned of their existence. The Secret Service launched a mission related to these coins in 1944. Before the investigation began, a coin dealer in Texas sold off one of the coins to King Farouk of Egypt and, for the first time, a 1933 double eagle was overseas. King Farouk applied for a license to have the coin, and the licence was granted before they knew that the coins were stolen. By 1945, nine of the coins were seized or turned in, and they were melted. The Secret Service caught up with Switt, who admitted to distributing the coins, but could not recall how he had acquired them in the first place. Another specimen was recovered in 1952, and met the same fate as the previous nine.


It's Mokie

Level 6

There is a wonderful book on the subject of the 1933 Double Eagle and even covers all the interactions with Mr. Israel Switt. It's titled "Illegal Tender" by David Tripp. Thanks for your blog.


Level 6

Beautiful coin...sad fate indeed. That being said... I agree with Longstrider! ; )


Level 7

Longstrider has it wrapped up!

Long Beard

Level 5

There are several coins which fall under the same illegal status put forth by the government following their discovery. Funny how none of those are confiscated, not that I'm advocating just floating a thought. The 1913 Liberty nickel would be the most popular behind the Double-Eagle. Point being, never trust the government. And follow Longstrider's advice.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I agree with MR Longstrider


Level 5

Could not remember how he acquired them ! Must not have remembered much. Nice story. Thanks


Level 4

Such a sad fate for such beautiful coins... sigh.


Level 6

A lesson: Keep your mouth shut. My opinion. I could be wrong.


Level 5

I will if I find one in my attic, that’s for sure!

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