The Strange Case of the 1933 Double Eagles – Video
In March 1933, as one of the many measures designed to reverse the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a Proclamation prohibiting payment of gold coin. This resulted in the melting of 445,500 1933-dated, but never issued $20 Double Eagle gold coins previously struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The only specimens to leave the Mint lawfully were two 1933 Double Eagles given to the Smithsonian Institution in 1934 for preservation in the National Numismatics collection.
After a 1933 Double Eagle appeared at auction in 1944, a Secret Service investigation led to the recovery of nine stolen pieces that also were subsequently melted. A tenth piece was recovered in 1996, with that case ending in a unique settlement under which that single coin was monetized and issued by the United States Mint and sold at auction in 2002 for $7.6 million. Ten more specimens surfaced in 2004, this time in the possession of the family of the Philadelphia Jeweler who had facilitated the distribution of the stolen Double Eagles in the 1930s. Litigation ensued.
Mint Senior Legal Counsel Greg Weinman discussed and answered questions about the extraordinary and intriguing case of the 1933 Double Eagles, the history, the litigation, and the Mint plans for the preservation and display of these historic national treasures.
Mr. Weinman’s presentation occured on Friday morning at 10:30am in the PAN Show Lecture Area on May 11th, 2018. His 55 minute lecture will likely not be presented in the future at any other numismatic venue. PAN was fortunate to have it recorded through funding from the Newman Numismatic Portal.