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The story behind the most valuable coin in the world

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The 1933 'Double Eagle' was dreamed up by President Roosevelt's distant cousin,Theodore, who had commissioned the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to re-design the $20 gold coin in the early 1900s.

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Although 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens double eagle were minted in 1933, none were ever officially circulated and all but two were ordered melted down.


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In 1933 and the Gold Reserve Act in 1934, which outlawed the circulation and private possession of United States gold coins for general circulation, with an exemption for collector coins.

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This act declared that gold coins were no longer legal tender in the United States, and people had to turn in their gold coins for other forms of currency.

the 1933 Double Eagles are
Ordered to be Destroyed:

Business slowed to a crawl and many people became homeless. People then began to doubt the banking system and many banks collapsed, leaving account holders with nothing.The 1933 gold double eagles were struck after this executive order, but because they were no longer legal tender, most of the 1933 gold coins were melted down in late 1934 and some were destroyed in tests.

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Several 1933 Double Eagle Gold
Coins Escaped Destruction:

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Two 1933 Double Eagles were provided to the Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institute. These are the only legal coins to be part of any coin collection. Nevertheless, by 1952 the U.S. Secret Service was able to confiscate eight additional 1933 Double Gold Eagles.

A King's Coin

srael Switt was able to sell nine of the 1933 Double Eagle coins to private collectors. One of the coins was purchased by Egypt's King Farouk. When the U.S. Secret Service found out about the coins, they were all confiscated, since they were property that was stolen from the U.S. mint. Nevertheless, King Farouk had exported his coin legally prior to the discovery of the theft by the Secret Service and they were unable to recover King Farouk's coin.

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Recovery Of King Farouk's Coin

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In 1952 the King was deposed. His coin appeared on the market briefly, but when it became known that the U.S. government was still interested in confiscating it, it disappeared once again. Over forty years subsequent to its disappearance a coin dealer from the U.K. brought it to New York where it was seized by Secret Service agents who had set up an undercover agent that claimed he was negotiating to buy it.

Terrorists almost destroy the 1933 Double Eagle

Fenton fought a several year-long legal battle in the U.S. courts over ownership of the coin, during time which it was stored in the Treasury Vaults at the World Trade Center.


A mere 2 months before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the lawsuit was settled and the Double Eagle was moved to Fort Knox. Fenton and the U.S. Mint had come to a compromise: the coin would be sold at auction, with the proceeds split between the Fenton and the Mint.

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Discovery of ten more coins

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In July 2005, the coins were authenticated by the United States Mint, working with the Smithsonian Institution, as being genuine 1933 double eagles.In August 2005, the United States Mint announced the recovery of ten additional stolen 1933 double eagle gold coins from the family of Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt, the illicit coin dealer identified by the Secret Service as a party to the theft who admitted selling the first nine double eagles recovered a half century earlier.

Coin experts in the numismatic world have advanced an argument that Switt could have legally obtained the 1933 coins when he was exchanging gold bullion for coins. Although the Mint records clearly show that no 1933 double eagles were issued, there were allegedly three weeks in March 1933 when new double eagles could possibly have been legally obtained.

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On October 28, 2010, United States District Court judge, Legrome D. Davis, released a 20-page decision, which led to a trial in July 2011. On July 20, 2011, after a 10-day trial, a jury ruled unanimously in favor of the United States government concerning ownership of the ten additional double eagles.

The decision was affirmed on August 29, 2012, and the
plaintiffs planned to appeal.

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In April 2015 a United States federal appeals court ordered the coins returned to the Langbord family because the original asset seizure was conducted improperly, as the government failed to file a judicial civil forfeiture complaint within 90 days of the family's seized asset claim

According to CoinWeek, the coins were listed as "John Does" 1-10 in court documents and considered individual parties for purposes of the Langbord family's successful legal challenge.

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